Meet the MD: Michelle Davies of Candidate Source Ltd

July 12, 2016

Michelle Davies didn’t have a career plan when she left school, and fell in to a job in recruitment. Now the MD of Candidate Source, she spoke to BQ about her career so far and her plans for the future of the company.

Describe your role in no more than 100 words.

I am responsible for managing the strategic direction of Candidate Source, a specialist online advertising agency for the recruitment sector.

This involves medium to long-term business planning, overseeing finances, developing relationships with new suppliers and, ultimately, being the face of the company at client meetings, presentations and exhibitions.

It is also my job to review changes in the market place and online job board arena, ensuring our advertising services reflect this.


What is it the company does?

Recruiters use Candidate Source for their Recruitment Process Outsourcing (RPO) because we get results.

We do this by offering them access to a range of ad hoc digital advertising services, from negotiating contracts on behalf of recruiters, training consultants on how to improve their Return On Investment (ROI) and supporting them in developing the content.

The latter involves writing the advert, selecting the best medium for it and then filtering the response.

Since we started in 2010, we have received applications from more than 1.5 million candidates, not bad for an agency that employs six people.


Give us a brief timeline of your career so far – where did you start, how did you move on?

There was no plan! At college I worked in a bar and if my Mum hadn’t made me apply for ‘a proper job’, I’d probably still be there!

My first full-time role was working on the counter for Halifax, covering a 6-month maternity leave that turned into a decade and adding the job title of  ‘experienced Call Centre Manager’ to my CV.

After a short stint working for an auto parts company (where I learnt that all jobs aren’t the same and some sectors certainly aren’t for me) I ended up moving to Pertemps to run a team who handled all the applications we received online.

Job Boards were also just coming into their own and I was best placed to manage Pertemps’ growing requirements for online candidate attraction.  I spent 10 years learning about recruitment, how to run a business and everything there is to know about making the internet work for recruiters.


What do you believe makes a great leader?

To value and reward the people who make your business a success.  Without my team, Candidate Source wouldn’t be where it is today and I’ve never taken them for granted.

It’s the team who delivers the service our clients receive and, without excellent staff we wouldn’t retain and grow our customer base that features the likes of Mynt Recruitment, Midas, Wote Street, Pertemps and Probe.

Other useful traits include being able to admit when you are wrong, know which battles to fight and which to walk away from and take time to step back, watch and understand.

Observe what’s going on and try to see what the cause is rather than the outcome – by addressing the cause you can identify why things have been a success or what action to take to put things right and make sure they don’t happen again.


What has been your biggest challenge in your current position?

Starting a new enterprise in a sector dominated by a lot of big players is fairly daunting at the time and you need to make sure you have people you can talk to and guide you when your decision making might waver.


How do you alleviate the stress that comes with your job?

I’ve just asked the team how I alleviate stress and they said I bring the stress to them!  I suppose in a nice way, I hope that means we deal with it together as a business.

To be honest I don’t stress a huge amount, I don’t see the point – if there is something bothering me I try to resolve it rather than worry about it.

Humour is also important.  It’s true when they say ‘if you don’t laugh you’d cry’.  Besides, I have two children who don’t give me enough time to dwell on things, they give me far too much to do!


When you were little, what did you want to be when you grew up?

A vet. I did a week’s work experience at Dudley Zoo, but after cleaning out cages I decided that perhaps looking after animals wasn’t for me.


Any pet hates in the workplace? What do you do about then?

People who don’t do what they say, it drives me insane. I try to make sure that any interaction is finished with an agreed plan and people know I will check!  I’d rather someone say ‘no that’s not possible’ than say ‘yes of course’ and then let me down.


Where do you see the company in five years time?

We have no plans to take over the world, but will look to grow the business to £4m from its current £2.5m turnover.

This will be achieved by continuing to deliver excellent levels of customer service and innovating the way recruiters look at candidate sourcing.

I’m also a big fan of work/life balance and making sure we all enjoy what we do.


What advice would you give to an aspiring business leader?

Surround yourself with good people, who are as interested in you being a success as you are in making their working lives enjoyable.

Whoever it is – client, employee or supplier – you have to work together, rather than someone working for you, or you working for someone!

It sounds a cliché, but learn from everything, good or bad… even when things go wrong you can take something away that will help next time.

Finally, don’t take yourself too seriously, if you don’t enjoy what you do you won’t build the valuable relationships you need to make your business a success.

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