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Always keep the end in mind when reaching for the top
Page Personnel’s Director Clare Johnson proves that knowing where you want to end up and keeping your eyes open for opportunities, is half the battle to reaching your career goals.
Provide some background to how you’ve got to your current position
I joined PageGroup in London in 2008 – I had 12 months experience with another global recruitment company after I graduated from university, recruiting Finance and HR. It was a great grounding and I knew I loved recruitment but I was always chasing Michael Pages adverts and leads from candidates who were getting interviews through MP and spoke very highly of the brand. Michael Page HR was a true market leader in London and I wanted the training and development on offer and a career with the best player in the industry, where I could see a progression and a global career. I sent my CV to their PRC coordinator and the rest is history. I recruited Contracting roles in the HR space in London for three years before transferring to Sydney in 2012. I had an opportunity to rebuild HR in Sydney and was later promoted to Manager. In 2016, I was promoted to Associate Director and looked after HR and Legal. In August of this year, I was given the amazing opportunity to take over the leadership of Page Personnel in NSW as Director.
Did you have any reservations about taking on a higher role given your commitments already?
No, I jumped at the opportunity. I am very excited about the future of Page Personnel in terms of growth, our brand within the market and the career paths for those within the business.
Did you start out having a vision of where you wanted to be or has the journey been somewhat fluid for you?
I always wanted to be a Director within PageGroup – I didn’t know exactly what that would look like in regards to discipline but I knew I wanted to achieve this eventually and this has been something which over the course of nine years, I have gradually worked towards with each new step and opportunity.
What are your top five tips for maintaining a work/family balance?
I don’t have family commitments at this stage in my life but I do recognise the importance of work/life balance. I think it all comes down to managing time well and ensuring you prioritise your general workload as you would your job pipeline. I tend to take an 80/50/20 approach (80% importance, 50% and then 20%) to my time and make sure I give the time needed to the critical elements and write a to-do list at the end of every day, so I come in the next morning and I can crack on with what needs to be done. I ask myself the question: “Is this task going to have a direct impact on my business making money or empowering my team to do so?” – If not, it can probably wait. I get a lot of satisfaction from seeing how much I have completed when you can see what you set out to do that morning. To be successful in recruitment, time management is crucial so I am quite strict with my time and definitely still follow the ‘core hours ‘mentality [10am-12pm and 2-5pm] that was instilled in me early on. If I do this, I know I am making the best use of the time I am in the office and get everything done. We have so many tools now with technology to be able to make the most of the time in each day even if you aren’t at your desk.
What has been the most challenging aspect of your career and why? How have you overcome this?
Recruitment is full of ups and downs and you have to learn early on to be quite resilient and not let it affect you from remaining positive and continuing to move forward. It can be champagne and razor blades and if you are having a tough day, week or month, it will get better with the right attitude!
If you hadn’t chosen to go down the recruitment path, what would you have chosen to pursue as a career? Why?
I wanted to be a journalist when I went to university and studied an English Literature degree. I had done work experience on a local newspaper and loved the excitement when they got a lead for a story. I am very inquisitive and love a gritty story!
What do you feel stops some women from managing a successful career and private life? Can this be overcome?
Probably seeing roadblocks that aren’t really there and lacking confidence in their ability to do both well. It can definitely be overcome; finding balance but still getting results is key to giving people the confidence that they can do both.
What message of a working woman do you want others coming up the ranks to model?
Let your results speak loudest; it isn’t about politics, it is about doing a great job and focussing on running your own race. As Baz Luhrmann once said: “Sometimes you’re ahead, sometimes you’re behind, the race is long and in the end, it is only with yourself.” There is no substitute for hard work!
What’s your favourite way to relax and unwind?
I would be lying if I came up with something other than a nice glass of Sauvignon Blanc!
What attributes do you feel have allowed you to be successful as a top recruiter?
I pride myself on a strong work ethic and if I say I am going to do something, I make sure I do it. My first Managing Director when I was in London used to say that candidates had better memories than elephants (which apparently are very good)! Every candidate is a client of the future and a stellar candidate service goes miles.
What sets you apart from other recruiters when building key accounts?
We have all the tools provided to us by the business to make a success with key accounts. What really counts is ensuring we deliver and provide the service we promise. You need a proven track record to do this and that comes from doing a great job in the first place.
How do you intend to ensure your voice gets heard at the Director’s table?
Hopefully by bringing ideas and working with the team to truly drive initiatives that will help us to achieve our BHAG [Big, Hairy, Audacious Goal], vision and mission.
Where do you intend to go from here? Do you feel this is the furthest you can go along this path?
I would love to be a Regional Director one day – for now, I can’t wait to take Page Personnel NSW to the next level.
Do you have a mentor? How has this helped you to achieve your goals? Are you a mentor to others? Is this something you see yourself doing?
Yes! I believe it gives you an opportunity to step away and look at what is going to help you reach your goals and sense check things if you aren’t sure about something outside of your Manager. I also have a couple of mentees and hope I add value!
Keen to learn more about setting audacious career goals? Talk to one of our consultants today.