The HR director at Nortel Networks and a core of staff have left to set up an Internet-based recruitment business.
Maurice Duffy and eight of his colleagues have split from Nortel to set up on-line operation called mksearch.com.
Duffy led Nortel to win the Personnel Today Recruiter of the Year award last year.
He is already planning office openings in other European countries and intending to take the company to public flotation.
As an in-house service, the Nortel unit already operated on the principles of a headhunting agency for technical staff. It developed aggressive practices, such as tracing the authors of personal Web pages as individuals likely to have sought-after programming skills. In its new guise it will also offer human resources and IT consultancy.
"We have a couple of unique selling points because we come from being an in-house service," said Duffy.
"We can talk about resourcing strategies; we can talk about retention, not just attraction."