What does it mean to have a “career with no limits”? It means having control of your own future with the opportunity to progress in your role with the chance to move sectors and even countries.
In the first of our series of profiles highlighting how SThree can provide a career with no limits, we talked to Angela Ward, Regional Director of Permanent Sales, Asia.
Angela has spent 15 years at SThree, moving from her role as Regional Director in the Netherlands to running the permanent sales business in Asia. She is no stranger to being an expat – Canadian-born, she started her career in Benelux and is now based out of Hong Kong.
Why did she choose recruitment in the first place?
Like many of our employees, Angela joined SThree after stints in industries unrelated to recruitment, in Angela’s case, a stint as a hospital patient advocate and a role within United Nations Youth came prior to her joining the company. The lack of a background in recruitment is no barrier to success, rather, skills learned elsewhere are an advantage.
“I was captivated by the energy that I saw when I first visited the SThree offices,” says Angela on her decision to join SThree. “I was not convinced that I was a recruiter as I had never done anything like it before, but I wanted to find out.”
Angela found that she was a very good recruiter indeed, quickly making a success of her new career by turning the business unit she joined into one that was particularly profitable and based on “a proper client strategy of long-term relationships”.
Supporting you, every step of the way
Angela estimates that she has had a new challenge roughly every two years in her 15-year career, which has kept her working life varied, exciting and interesting. Some came as the result of her initiating the discussion, others as the result of her successes. But it hasn’t always been easy:
“I have also had dips and difficult moments in my career and those were probably the ones where I learned the most about myself. The best thing SThree ever did for me was to train me very well in the first few years of my career on how to sell, recruit, build a business, manage and inspire teams, build a long term strategy and so on. If I had not been trained so well in the early years I would never have been able to go on and do the same for others.”
There are other areas where Angela has felt fully supported, such as when she asked to relocate. Key to the idea of a career with no limits is that our employees get to make key decisions about their career through ongoing discussions with management as to where they want their career to go. For Angela, this meant relocating:
“I was really enjoying what I was doing but after 15 years, even though the market changes and people change, there was a bit of sameness. I was looking to challenge my brain with new challenges. I had discussed relocation previously, but the infrastructure for leaving my job wasn’t there at that time. In order to relocate you need to create back up in your current job.”
Why aren’t there more women in the recruitment industry?
Women and men choose recruitment at about a 50/50 rate so there are plenty of women in recruitment at the start of their careers. Yet when we start to look across the industry as a whole and at senior management and director level positions, that ratio changes dramatically:
“Years ago the percentage of women moving into senior management was low. I was the only female Sales Director within our part of the business,” says Angela, by way of explanation.
“This trend is changing however, with SThree providing a working environment that is much more suited to a diverse workforce. We need to allow the current generation of talent to come through into those top positions,” she says.
Valuable employee programmes such as Mentoring, “Velocity”, a career development programme, behavioural based programmes for managers, the Maternity Buddy Scheme and exceptional training at all career stages have positioned SThree as the employer of choice for people who would like a career within recruitment from a diverse range of backgrounds.
What about work/life balance?
Key to having a motivated and diverse workforce is of course offering support and flexibility in terms of the different challenges different employees face. Angela is a mother to three young children and says that the extensive time she spends away from home travelling would be impossible without support both at work and at home:
“In my case that home support comes from my husband who, although he also works full time, is his own boss, so can be the stable factor for our girls when I have to travel. SThree are very supportive and have given me the tools to be able to work remotely and plan my time as I see fit.
“As long as I get the results in and deliver on what needs to be done there has never been any question. I do think professionals, whether men or women, do need to understand that you do need to get your job done and if you do that between nine-to-five or the odd evening to make up time it doesn’t matter. But this flexibility needs to be a shared responsibility from both the employer and employee.”
What’s Angela’s advice to other women who want to build a successful career in recruitment?
Angela would give the same advice regardless of gender: work hard and persevere. “You are the best in your league. We are a meritocracy so strive to be the best and be recognised as that.”
If you’re interested in finding out more about where a career with SThree can take you, watch the following video.