At Computer Futures, Emily Bray is the ambassador for diversity and is driving the initiative internally and also externally with clients.
Emily graduated from St Marys University in 2005 with a degree in English. When Emily graduated her criteria of dream a job was simple: wear a suit, work in London and stand out and be seen as successful. She sent her CV to as many recruitment agents as she wanted to pay off her student loan as an immediate goal.
Emily was called by a number of recruitment agents that were looking for graduate recruitment consultants. Her degree coupled with her work experience (ranging from retail to running small enterprises) made a very good candidate to interview at recruitment agencies.
Emily's journey began with SThree at a group interview. She was petrified. It was the first time she had had to do a group interview and the first time she had to present to a panel. She knew that she didn't have any commercial experience, but she had a goal and was determined to get the job and prove to herself she could overcome this fear.
During the lunch break, she decided, no matter how hard the challenge was - she was going to stay. A number of candidates left, & said the job was not for them, but Emily persevered. Even though Emily had scored the lowest in her first few group tasks, in her task after lunch, she was able to play to her strengths and sell on the telephone. Richard Manso and Max Mackin later interviewed her & said she had the 'Xfactor' before offering her the job.
Emily began as a trainee recruitment consultant in October 2005 for Computer Futures London. Her first surprise was that in an office of nearly 70 people, she was one of three girls. She hadn't realized that IT recruitment was so male dominant and it was a new culture for her. She didn't feel shy, she could hold her own, but to look across the sales floor and see a team of nearly 40 male contract consultants was daunting. Also - the two female consultants that Emily was working with - were also leaving. This was even more daunting for Emily. She would be the only female working for Computer Futures London, the only female in sales until other females were hired later in the year.
Emily wanted to prove that she could do this job regardless of her surroundings and where she had no corporate experience and a very average degree. She was in the office at 8am and left past 8pm. Not only was she trying to learn recruitment, the CRM systems, but also overcoming her fears, her fears of public speaking, fear of failure and growing debt/financial troubles. This role at Computer Futures was also about Emily developing herself as a person.
Emily went from being a trainee to a consultant in one year. Six months later she had proved herself and was promoted to a senior consultant. In 18 months she saw herself grow in confidence, established herself in a male orientated sales business, earned considerable commission and a role model for aspiring females joining the sales team.
Within two and a half years Emily had been made a team leader. She had 5 people in her team. She was doing well and her team was billing.
In 2008, the recession hit the UK. Emily saw recruitment take a hit. Clients were not hiring, budgets were frozen - It was the hardest time in Emily's career. However, Emily knew things would get better. She had received the best training in the recruitment industry. She knew that Computer Futures was a robust business and had survived the previous recession. She was loyal and so she persevered through the recession. She saw many managers leave and consultants move on, but Emily was loyal and preserved with Computer Futures.
In 2011 Emily was promoted to an Associate Business Manager managing 14 people.
In 2012 Emily was promoted to Business Manager for London managing 21 people.
Emily made a conscious decision as a Business Manager to recruit more women for her team as she believes a more balanced team makes a stronger team. Emily has observed that over the 10 years of recruitment that generally speaking (not as a rule) female recruitment consultants have naturally strong client development skills, whereas male consultants are less risk adverse and can be more comfortable negotiating.
What are the challenges for women in recruitment?
Emily believes that it is particularly challenging attracting women to work within the industry of I.T recruitment (sector) . I.T recruitment can also be perceived externally as being male dominated and not female friendly. Emily wanted to change this and didn't know where to start. She was advised to read a book by Cheryl Sandberg, CEO of Facebook. Having read the book Emily created a Twitter account and began to tweet about women in I.T recruitment and Women in I.T
She was invited to a number of Women in Recruitment events and was able to learn from the experiences how to empower women in her team and how to start spreading the word.
As part of a steering committee she helped organize an event for the females working for Computer Futures (London and Southern region). The event was centered around on "Personal Branding" with an external speaker that would empower women. The event was a massive success and has allowed Emily to go on to be the ambassador for Women in IT for Computer Futures UK.
The events didn't stop there. Emily was then involved in organizing an event in partnership with "Dress for Success" a charity group that support women who have gone through domestic violence but are looking for help in turning their lives around. This charity provide clothing and advise on best to get a job. Not only did the female consultants provide advise, but the male consultants also understood and helped.
Biggest Challenges in Recruitment as a female recruiter
The biggest challenge for Emily was stepping in to a managerial role at Computer Futures where she was the one of three female business managers in CF UK. There was naturally less of a female peer group to communicate with.
In order to get the best from her diverse team and manage upward on her development she had to adapt her communication style to be understood by her male peers and team.
Emily has been actively involved in helping the business understand the value of diversity and filter down the messages to create a more collaborative environment and promote a more inclusive work environment. This has been done through training in her own team and working with the management team in London.
Biggest Highlight in Recruitment
The biggest highlight for Emily was when she won the Business Manager of the year award (South & West) 2013.
Currently Emily has the most number of female employees on her team ever, including the top biller.
Advice you can give
"Don't go into a company with a chip on your shoulder, you have the same opportunity as everyone else.
Proactively invest in your own development.
Understand and play your strengths."
Emily had the support of Vicki Maloney, now operations director. She was able to support Emily through her career and help her find a mentor.
Emily is now a mentor to another female manager and is helping her through her career
Emily is now on the steering committee for diversity for SThree, parent company for Computer Futures