Tell us something people might not know about you?
Too many to record here! Apart from wearing bear costumes when walking the recent 15-mile Marsden march and for a 10k run, I have also trekked the Hemkund Sahib located in the Himalayas, which is at an altitude above 15,000 feet – really high – I didn’t wear the bear costume for this! I also worked as a special educational needs (SEN) counsellor for a summer at Camp America after my teaching degree. It was hard work but fun and I was very fortunate to spend time with so many amazing kids.
What is your background?
I started my career in teaching. My degree was in Business Studies and my MSc in International Business Management. After taking my PGCE I taught post-16 Business Studies for 8 years, progressing to Head of Department.
What did you want to be when you were growing up?
I wanted to be a policeman (my Year 9 work experience was with the police) or a vet. I wasn’t allowed to have a pet when I was growing up and I love animals. So as soon as I left home, I got an indoor rabbit and, yes, he was well trained! Now I have a rescue dog called Tommy.
How did you get into recruiting?
After teaching I wanted to do something different and decided I needed a change of career. Talking with friends I decided recruitment was something I would be good at. I focused on finance recruitment as finance was part of my degree(s), which meant I had a good idea of what I was recruiting, a plus for my clients, candidates and me.
Many people want to change careers but find it difficult. How did you make the transfer?
It wasn’t easy and I met with a lot of push back from recruitment companies because they said I was too old to change careers (I was 30!). Because of my educational background I was also faced with a lot of stereotyping – teachers are boring and not commercial enough. This is not true.
I kept going with my quest and Hays gave me my first break. The interview was scenario based and they liked my grown up and commercial answers, which has also been welcomed here at Totum. My advice for anyone changing careers is don’t give up and focus on what you can bring into your new career – for example, the softer skills and not what you don’t have.
Some of my favourite clients are Pinsent Masons and CMS. I enjoy their inclusive approach and we work together – the line manager, HR and ourselves. They trust my opinion on candidates and it means I know the business, the departments and the personalities so I can place the best candidate for the role. The result? Happy clients. For one client I placed their entire analyst team – happy days!
What’s your top tip for candidates?
Have a plan. Think through your skills, what you will be good at and decide the best role for those. Don’t just take any role. Don’t be short sighted, have a long-term view. For example, whilst I was a teacher, I progressed to Head of Team and Head of Department. Even though the salary didn’t match due to wage freezes it did mean when I left I could easily move into another Head of Department role.
Plus, invest in a good CV and list your achievements to distinguish yourself including facts and figures. Finally, follow up your CV with a call! We don’t bite!
If you would like to find out more about Totum’s finance function or chat through recruitment opportunities with Dee, he can be contacted at [email protected]