I was asked a very simple question last week and rather than reply without hesitation I stumbled. “Why do you do what you do?” was the question from my boss to not only myself, but also the other members of Optimum’s management team. My mind was racing for a great answer to share with the group but I had nothing. Why do I do what I do?
Having been working in the recruitment and consulting services industry for the past 15 years and working in the same company for 11 of those, I hadn’t actually stopped in the recent past to think about why I continue to do this job. The world of recruitment is extremely fast paced and quite often reactive, so making time to reflect on why I chose this career path had not been on on my radar. I could do loads of jobs and have a very different career but I’ve chosen this one.
Starting with the What
What do I do? My role is General Manager of Optimum’s recruitment business.
The Monday morning job meeting and chasing contractor time-sheets is followed by weekly staff one-on-one’s, client site visits to develop relationships or source new opportunities, candidate headhunting, interviews, running training sessions, reviewing KPI’s and financial reports and usually some internal or external “fire-fighting”. Before I blink it is Friday afternoon. I wrap up my working week with a team drink and some shared stories of the “highs of the week” then head home to enjoy the weekend with my family. Wow… another week gone.
Back to the Why
Working in consulting specialising in the employment sector is not what I planned when I chose my grade 11 and 12 subjects at school, nor when I embarked on my Commerce degree. To be perfectly honest I didn’t really know what I wanted to do when I started university. Even when I finished I still didn’t have a career plan mapped out in front of me.
I certainly enjoyed subjects like sociology at school and I had a keen interest in the human resources, management and industrial relations units I studied at uni. My early work experience was largely hospitality related as the hours complemented my study and sporting commitments and I was fortunate to be trained well in customer service.
The Answer: People
I’m fascinated by people. Everyone has a story and if you scratch the surface you uncover the uniqueness and individuality in everyone. I interview people everyday. Whether they be candidates looking for work or managers wanting to hire talent, each person has more to them than their resume or their job title. And finding this out is what I love. I’m extremely fortunate to work in a job that has such a high content of people contact and is focussed on delivering solutions to them. I’ve learned that not everyone can handle this level of interaction nor do they want to. But for me it is the best part.
The Answer: Teams
I genuinely believe a team of people can do much, much more than an individual. I loved playing team sport before my body started to fail me and for the same reasons I love working in a team. Cohesive, communicative and high performing teams achieve great outcomes. My role not only gives me the daily opportunity and challenge to run our recruitment teams, but I’m also part of a talented management group at Optimum. I also have the ability to impact my clients teams by sourcing new talent for them. A great hire can have a really positive effect on a team and I love seeing a candidate I’ve recruited make a good team even better.
The Answer: Leadership
My interest in leadership was largely fostered by my dad. I enjoyed hearing about the challenges he faced at work and he’d often share stories whilst sitting around the kitchen table years ago when I was studying. Dad was a Dealer Principal in the motor industry and led a diverse group of people across various departments including Sales, Service, Spare Parts and the Body-Shop. Each division had a different focus and dad was tasked with pulling it all together for a great outcome for the business. Invariable most frustrations he experienced involved dealing with people. Likewise the most enjoyable aspects of his job seemed to be the people aspects too.
The same goes for me in my job. It is not always great dealing with people all day, everyday. People get cranky, they can be rude, they can lie, they can be lazy and they can let you down. But the opposite is also true… and generally it’s fantastic.
I do what I do because I love it. I love dealing with people everyday. I love working internally and externally to improve teams and I love leadership. People make business happen and I’m in the people business. There’s no place I’d rather be. So, what about you? Why do you do what you do?
Ben Walsh – General Manager; Recruitment