International Women’s Day originated in the 1900’s and was a day in which women across the globe could celebrate movements campaigning for better pay, voting rights, overall success and achievements whilst hopefully inspiring others. 2018’s campaign theme is #pressforprogress – more than ever this year there is a need to press forward and progress gender parity.
As we celebrate this day here at Better Placed, we asked two of our Board Directors, Rachel O’Sullivan and Liz Hopkins to reflect on their time here. Three years ago we took the decision to restructure our board, including adding Rachel and Liz, which had a huge impact on our organisation. Whilst Leeds has always been the Head Office, our two other offices in Manchester and London are thriving due to the amazing teams we have there, but also thanks to the leadership that Liz and Rachel have implemented. They make it a happy, driven and exciting place to work, both inspiring and motivating their teams to meet individual goals.
They are different characters, who have followed different routes to their current roles – Rachel having risen right through the ranks at Better Placed and given us a market leading presence in the North West and Liz who has bought huge expertise and energy of growing teams from her old role at Page Group to our high growth Business in London. As individuals they have bought into the culture at Better Placed but bring their own unique styles to running a business and most importantly they have each stamped their mark on the future direction of our company by holding us accountable for the strategic decisions we make.
Liz kicks off part 1 of our International Women’s Day 2018 series ….here’s what she had to say about life at Better Placed Recruitment.
What attracted you to Better Placed Recruitment?
The recruitment industry can get such bad press because of individuals and companies who just see their clients and candidates as ‘one off transactions’. They are a means to an end of making commission. Just a number. These people also tend to think of recruitment as a numbers game. The more CV’s you send out, the easier it is to hit your internal KPI’s and tick a box.
That vision is everything I hate about recruitment and would never want to be a part of and I was starting to feel like I was being asked to hire and manage people who fit that mould in my previous company.
I had heard good things about Better Placed, but only from The North and also in their bpesearch business where one of my old colleagues was working. After having more of a chat with him and meeting the MD’s, I felt really bought into ‘The Real Network’ belief of the business and wanting to stand out from the crowd in terms of being real ‘consultants’ and partners with our clients for the long term, rather than worrying too much about the KPI’s that go behind the work.
The opportunity to be able to help them really establish a London/Southern business with this kind of backdrop and beliefs and the freedom to hire the kind of people I wanted to work with and run the team in the way that I wanted to do it, was too appealing a chance to turn down. 3 years on, an established team, lots of repeat clients and a place on the board for me later, I think it was a pretty good decision to join!
Tell us about your teams and your leadership style:
I have 2 key beliefs as a manager – that you have two way honesty with your team and that you always give 100% commitment and effort. If you have commitment, effort and honesty from someone then you have the best possible foundation for success. I don’t believe in a one size fits all mentality, either with my consultants or with our clients. Different people work in different ways, need different things to motivate them, different styles of approach etc. It’s all about understanding what those are and then putting together the right balance of autonomy v support to help them thrive. All of my team are very different – we’re an eclectic bunch to say the least – but the thread that runs through everyone is a shared belief in working supportively together as a team and delivering the best possible experience we can for our candidates and clients. Getting a new job is one of the most important things a person does. We never lose sight of the respect that decision deserves.
What it means to now be part of the board and how this enables you to drive and influence/ strengthen the overall business strategy and decisions?
Over the last 3-4 years, our business has doubled in size and with that comes the necessity to be positive and open about the changes we need to make as a board and management team in how best to support our business and staff through this kind of step. Since I have been part of the board I have had the chance to really influence and lead many areas of change within the organisation.
What I love the most about our 3 MD’s is that despite owning the business for 17 years, they are in no way stuck in their ways about always just doing things the same way because that’s what has always worked before. They are always hugely open and supportive to any changes that are suggested to them and as long as you can give a clear commercial (or softer more personal) rationale about why we should make that change, they are always supportive of it and open to trying it.
A few things we have changed in the last couple of years have been new structured training programmes for staff, new employee benefits, new international travel incentive schemes, more charity work etc. Feeling empowered and that your voice matters is a huge draw to working for Better Placed.
Better Placed recently came 4th in the Sunday Times Best 100 Small Companies to work for. What does it mean to be part of a business in the Top 100?
It feels amazing! If I could bottle the emotion and reaction of the 12 of us who attended the awards ceremony when our name was read out in 4th place, I would do it and live off it every day!
More than anything, it’s a feeling of huge pride that all of the hard work that we do as a leadership team in Better Placed to make our staff feel motivated and happy to come to work everyday is noticed and appreciated. We are very clear about the underlying beliefs and traits of the people who we hire to work for us and staying true to that rationale makes it a fantastic group of people to work with. When you have a great team, it’s easy to be a great manager.
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