Following our last ‘Women in Recruitment’ roundtable event we wanted to shine a spotlight on women in business, so we have conducted a series of interviews with successful women in our industry, to hear from them about the challenges they face and what inspires them. The fifth interview in the series is with Angela Peart from Utility People.

Angela has spent the past 30 years building a career in business over multiple utility industries which has helped her to build a deep knowledge of the retail Utility sector. She quickly realised there was a gap in the market for a good recruiter within the Utilities sector and so joined forces with her business partner Linda Mason who has spent her career in blue chip recruitment. Utility People was created in 2006 and Angela and Linda haven’t looked back since.

Angela is passionate about bringing the utility industries into the 21st century, looking at how the industry needs to revaluate it methods when trying to recruit talent which has elevated Utility People from being just a recruiter to a business partner and trusted advisor to their clients.

Now we have some background information on Angela, let’s dive into the interview to find out more:

Q: What inspires or drives you as a leader?

A: I am very driven and when it comes to business I am passionate about changing opinions on how the industry recruit’s talent. The industry has a long way to go and if they are going to recruit and retain talent with their business they need to understand what it is candidate’s really want from their employer, and make it happen. I am determined to lead the way with this, continuously talking about the skills shortage utilities has and how we rectify the situation.

Q: Do you have a female role model, if so who and why?

A: My inspirational woman is Alison lapper, I read her autobiography ‘My life in my hands’ in 2006, and she is a true inspiration. She has proven that if you believe in something, you can make it happen and it’s been my thought process ever since. Anything is possible if you want it enough.

Q: What would you attribute your success to?

A: Some luck and some judgement, but mostly determination. I never give up and failure is never an option. One thing that has been a major factor in my success is building a good team around me. The saying is true ‘you are only as good as your team’.

Q: How did you get to where you are today and who helped you along the way?

A: I have worked all my life in a very male dominated environment and I have been lucky enough to work with great men that have supported me and really pushed me to succeed in my career. That in turn has given me great self-belief and determination. I work very hard and stay positive all the time knowing my hard work will create a positive outcome.

Q: After all your success, what challenges do you continue to face?

A: Keeping ahead of the game! The industry changes fast and I need to have the vision to know what to do next and encourage my team to join me on an ever-changing journey.

Q: Have you ever struggled to achieve work life balance, or achieved it?

A:Yes, I’m well known in my industry, so people often think about recruitment after their work has finished for the day, and that’s when they contact me. I work hard in the week and in all honesty, I don’t switch off. But come 5pm of a Friday, its family time, it’s very important to me and I ensure I organise dinners, weekends together and holidays as much as possible, that’s my down time and that’s what makes me work harder. I want to be a role model for my children and grandchildren and prove that you can have both a successful career and a happy family.

Q: What is one leadership lesson that you have learned in your career?

A: That your staff know more than you do, they are the soldiers on the ground and they need to be listened to and they always come up with the best ideas for the business.
You don’t know everything, so always listen to others and learn more.

Q: What have you learned about leadership and entrepreneurial-ship?

A:I’m not scared to try anything in business, and when trialling many new ideas, it increases the chances of failure. I’m not afraid of failure as I think it makes you stronger, but sometimes it’s not easy for your team to take the failures and you can be left to pick up the pieces. I’ve learnt not be as impulsive and know I need to think about the impact on the team before I try a new idea.

Q: Do you or have you ever mentored others, is there value in this in your opinion?

A: Yes, I have, and it provides great value. Your advice is helping someone to grow in their career and in turn you are learning so much as well. Everyone is so different, and you learn to adapt to that. There’s no greater pride than watching someone grow and develop and knowing along the way you have been a part of that.

Q: What is the best and worst decision you have ever made?
A:Best decision – Taking on a head of marketing for our business. I knew we needed to do something and it is a big investment, but it has completely changed the way we think about presenting ourselves to the outside world. It’s so important to get it right and has transformed the way we do business.

Worst Decision – Keeping people in the business that deep down I knew were not right. Think with your head not your heart if its having a detrimental impact on your business.

Q: Do you think there are barriers for women looking to climb the ladder?

A: We can be our own worst enemy, as women we are always looking for reasons for why we can’t do something, rather than why we can.

Q: What advice would you give to women who are looking to become leaders in a business?

A: Face your fears! Read more books by entrepreneurial women, they all started somewhere, and they have all overcome barriers you too are facing. Don’t give up! Attend women’s network events, they are there to build your confidence and inspire you to be better.

Q: Are there any strategies that can help a woman achieve a more prominent role in a male dominated organisation?

A: Don’t think you have to behave like a man, and don’t try and blend in. In fact, do the opposite wear a bright colour and stand out. You’re there because you’re equally amazing! Be yourself!

Q: What do you think will be the biggest challenge for the next generation of women looking to move up the hierarchical ladder?

A: Confidence. Men see a job description and can only do 40% of a role and think ‘I will learn the rest’. Women see a job description and can only do 60% of the role and think, ‘I can’t do that job’.

Q: In your experience what do you think a business can do to encourage diversity?

A:Create a diversity company policy.

For example: Provide flexible working hours, childcare vouchers, allow employees to take time off for a variety of religious holidays, this may help you attract a more religiously diverse workforce. Make your office usable by people with a range of disabilities as it can help attract more talented people.

Q: In your experience, what can a business do to attract and retain female talent?

A:Flexibility, flexibility and more flexibility.

Organisations must recognise that women are spinning many plates and to make their lives successful, providing a flexible working environment helps them to achieve their goals. In turn they will work harder for your business.

Q: What advice would you give to leaders to encourage diversity and a more equal split of male and females in more senior positions?

A: Remember, it’s all about fairness, transparency, valuing difference, encouraging contribution from everybody and challenging your promotion process and making sure it’s fair and consistent.

Q: What advice would you give to leaders to encourage diversity and a more equal split of male and females in more senior positions?

A: Ensure you provide consistent and fair support to both sexes. Flexibility and home working are key in ensuring a happy workforce. Family life is important to both sexes and everyone needs to be treated fairly.

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