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 seventh interview in the series is with Tara Ricks.

Tara was appointed Managing Director, Randstad Financial & Professional and Interim Executives UK in 2009. She started her career in recruitment as Managing Director of Joslin Rowe Associates in 1990, having first cut her teeth in investment banking working at Morgan Stanley. Under Ricks’ leadership, Joslin Rowe grew to become one of the largest privately-owned financial services recruitment firm in the UK by the time of its acquisition by Randstad in 2008. Tara remained Managing Director of Ranstad UK until 2016. In 2010 Ricks was appointed chair of the Association of Professional Staffing Companies (APSCo), a role she fulfilled until 2011.

She is a highly experienced recruitment professional with over 20 years experience across the professionals sectors. She has a proven track record in leading and growing successful Sales teams, developing strategy and driving new business lines and markets. She’s developed and managed, as Managing Director, award winning finance recruiter Joslin Rowe Associates; was instrumental in growing the business to become, at the time of sale to Randstad in 2008, the largest privately owned recruiter in the field of financial services.; and is skilled in the recruitment markets covering Professionals, Financial Services, Interim, Legal, Finance. And in 2015 was included in the 2015 Global Power 100 Women in Staffing list – http://si100women.staffingindustry.com/.

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

Q: What inspires or drives you as a leader?

A: For me, the most inspirational thing about leadership is being a custodian of your team and their development – seeing them grow and achieve their goals and their own leadership aspirations are some of the biggest drivers.

Q: What would you attribute your success to?

A: Lots of hard work – perhaps sounds trite, but it really is the essence. Be prepared to spend time in the trenches, it will pay off!
There is always an element of being in the right place/company at the right time/point of the economic cycle too!

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

A:  I joined a recruitment business that was tiny but had great potential to grow. The sector we specialised in (financial services) was experiencing exponential growth and our approach to customer service enabled us to harness many fantastic and long-term client relationships – and their significant business volumes – which in turn enabled us to consistently increase headcount and geographic footprint. I very much grew with the business, I had the opportunity to invest which was transformational to my approach and long-term dedication.

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

A: There will (and probably should) always be the next challenge – I think current challenges for recruitment businesses include talent, technology, innovation in delivery models and business mix.

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

A: I am not, personally, a believer in work life balance, in fact I don’t think it exists. I am more an advocate of a work and life synchronisation. The very word “balance” indicates a sense or precariousness which is not conducive to life! We all make compromises and decisions that allow us to operate work and non-work effectively – at the same time, hence synchronisation.

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

A:You can NEVER over communicate!

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

A: They are both high risk, demanding, all about managing change and innovating to take advantage of opportunities, having the ability to inspire others to achieve the common goal.

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

A: Absolutely, the value of having a mentor within your own organisation can be invaluable in terms of understanding and navigating your way around and understanding all the informal rules and culture. A good mentor will also help you to recognise your strengths and your areas for development – and assist you in determining your career goals.

Q: What words of advice or tips would you give to other mentors?

A: Be thoughtful about who you mentor and how solid the match is – be genuine about your skill set and how that could support your mentee.

Q: What is the best and worst decision you have ever made?

A: Certainly, one of my best career decisions was to enter the world of recruitment.

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

A: Unfortunately, I do believe that within some environments and cultures there are definitely still barriers in place (for women seeking career advancement). These barriers are not necessarily a willful desire to keep out women, but unconscious bias does play a key part.

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

A: Understand your ‘why’, have a clear plan (and be prepared to change it along the way), define your timescales, network, self-promote, don’t wait for perfection (I follow the 65% rule – don’t judge yourself at 100%), be assertive, build allies.

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

A: Make sure you adopt and cultivate the traits that are deemed to be more “masculine” – assertiveness, confidence, self-promotion. It is certainly possible to do this without sacrificing your values or radically altering your personality!
Speak up! Network. Don’t make the coffee. Seek an internal sponsor.

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

A: Your ability to move up the ladder will be determined by your success in developing your own personal career strategy.

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

A: Create awareness of the commensurate commercial success your business will achieve if you effectively reflect the market you serve!
Create an understanding of diversity – this can take many forms, it’s not just gender, it’s also culture, nationality, race, sexuality, educational background etc.

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

A: Female talent will seek to join a business that reflects their values – inclusivity will shine through (if its genuine) via career progression opportunities, a level playing field, transparency of equitable pay, progressive working flexibility – and how all these questions are answered at interview stage.

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: Leaders need to create and drive a high-performance culture that embraces all of the above – success in these areas will ensure the diversity at all levels, including the senior team.

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