Lifting the Lid on RTS – Jo Lindsay, Graduating to success…
Joining Reed as part of the Graduate scheme back in 1997, Jo Lindsay’s career has served up more variety than most. Now, as Managing Director of Consulting and Client Engagement with Reed Talent Solutions, Jo shares her experience of how the scheme has launched and further shaped her career over the last 25+ years.
Jo, you’ve worked across a variety of teams within Reed and now as a Managing Director within Reed Talent Solutions, can you tell us a bit more about that?
As Managing Director with responsibility for the Consulting and Client Engagement activity within Reed Talent Solutions, I have overall responsibility for our consultancy offering delivered via our dedicated Consultancy+ brand and through specialist practitioners within our wider Reed Talent Solutions business.
In addition to this, I lead Reed’s corporate sales teams securing opportunities across the full spectrum of contingent labour and permanent recruitment solutions. Consultancy+ is a relatively new addition to our service offering and has seen terrific growth over the last 5 years.
We are constantly innovating and refining our services, making it a demanding and exciting place to work and most definitely somewhere that the initial qualities that attracted me to Reed (like responsibility and accountability) continue to flourish. Likewise, our Solutions and Sales teams are always looking to what is next and the ethos running through Reed Talent Solutions of “Better Never Stops” is embraced in all that we do.
The clients we work with to develop our solutions are really diverse too – from large centralised government departments and investment banks to NHS trusts and local authorities.
2023 must feel like a different era from joining Reed back in 1997 as part of the Graduate Scheme, what attracted you to apply?
I completed an Economics degree at university and applied for a range of graduate opportunities. Many asked you to choose a specific line of work such as Accounting or Human Resources at the outset of the programme. I was 21 with limited exposure to the world of work and really didn’t know what I wanted to do. The Reed scheme stood out as it offered much more flexibility with placements across a range of functional areas. It was slightly different from the scheme offered now, in that the scheme was made up of 6 placements each lasting 6 months rather than the 3 yearly placements we currently offer. I also valued the professional qualifications offered and completed a Post Graduate Diploma in Personnel Management which also allowed me to achieve MCIPD status. as well as a PRINCE2 certification.
“I am part of a collaborative team and work in an environment where every day I am inspired by the exceptional people I work with”
I believe a good graduate scheme offers the opportunity for graduates to continue their learning journey and actually have responsibility and accountability for delivering outcomes. Some of the schemes I looked at felt like they encouraged graduates to participate in roles that were highly administrative in nature rather than actually business focused. Both of the first placements I had in terms of a training role and a Temporaries Consultant role involved me having to manage my own workload and time independently. I was clearly accountable for my success and this was acknowledged.
In my current role as a Graduate Mentor, I try to encourage my mentees to make the best of the scheme in several ways. Reed is a diverse organisation with several different operating companies; I always encourage them to think about roles in other parts of the business and not become wedded to one particular area, especially if they are looking to build a career in HR or Finance of which there are multiple teams. I also encourage them to consider networking with other graduates and managers to understand and seek out opportunities for the next graduate rotation. Perhaps controversially, I encourage them to take a risk and try something new on their second year placement. By this point they have some solid operational experience and it can be all too easy to take another very similar role. The beauty of the scheme is its variety and trying something new in a safe environment where you still have time to shape your career in new directions you may never have considered.
Jo with the Consultancy + team!
Having worked in this industry now for over 25 years, what are the most notable improvements and innovations that have helped the industry?
The relentless march of technology has definitely shaped the industry and notably how we engage and identify talent. In 1997, few had mobile phones and email addresses, let alone the power of the internet in your hand with a smart phone. Sometimes to get in contact with a candidate, you had to write them a letter and post it to get them to call the office about an opportunity!
Our job board was in an embryotic phase, to attract candidates you were more likely to write out a window card with the basic details of your role. A physical presence in a location was necessary to source and verify candidates. Moving much of our attraction and selection to online and virtual formats has undoubtedly improved productivity, streamlined the candidate experience in a world which is ever more orientated towards on-demand consumption of content and information. Also what is notable is how many more services and products our recruitment business offers. Where once there had been simply temps and perms, there is now a full suite of services including statement of work, recruitment process outsourcing, resource augmentation, services procurement and managed service programmes.
What do you think has enabled you to build such a long and successful career with RTS?
I have had lots of different roles in Reed and it is the constant evolution of opportunity that has kept me here (25 years and counting). I was lucky for my second year placement to take a role as a Project Consultant within our implementation team. As a project consultant, I worked with a range of client stakeholders on a variety of different projects from process design to assessment centre delivery.
This varied role saw me move into a placement in my third year as a Project Manager, specifically looking at setting up and embedding continuous improvement (not sure it was called that back then!) into our fledgling shared services model. I think the variety of experiences I obtained through my project work is really what set me up for success in terms of my ability to take on more senior roles. The graduate scheme itself offered variety and my second and third year rotations just further enhanced the experiences and skills I developed.
Reed is a very entrepreneurial business, good at running with new ideas and therefore being equipped to demonstrate knowledge and ideas that could enhance the business put me in a strong position to advance my career. I was also blessed with a very pragmatic mentor, Martin Fallon, who was instrumental in helping me evaluate and take advantage of opportunities.
What does the future hold for RTS?
Reed Talent Solutions is well positioned to achieve its growth plans. The market for RPO services is buoyant and the range of innovative products we have developed leave us well placed to secure market share in new emerging service lines. People have always been the cornerstone of our business and I am pleased to say that the commitment to learning and development to support our teams achieve success is still as embedded within the culture of our organisation as it was when I joined. Technology advancements will continue to drive change within our sector and that pace of change is only set to quicken in my opinion as the business finds new applications for AI, automation and the Metaverse in our everyday services.
Finally Jo, any advice you would give your past self, starting out in your career today?
Believe in your abilities and don’t be held back by what you think you can’t do, concentrate on what you can do. I know there are some opportunities that I could have pursued that I held back on because I suffered from the much talked about “imposter syndrome”.
By Claire Bacon