Time flies when you’re creating futures. The brilliant Lesley Ashwell has been with Salt for 16 years since Salt New Zealand was first established. To celebrate this milestone, we caught up with Lesley to share some insights on her journey and experience in the recruitment industry.
What is your current role, and the most exciting part of working at Salt?
As a Relationship Manager for 15 years, it was my responsibility to drive our client engagement at Salt from day one. I am proud of the part I have played in growing the Salt business in New Zealand to where it is today. Now part-time, I am in a training/mentoring role working with our consulting teams to deliver continued growth through excellent customer experiences that see Salt as the number one ‘go to recruitment company’ across all of our specialisations.
It is exciting for me to be part of an organisation that is always evolving. When I look back to our early days, I never imagined that Salt would be the size it is today with eight offices around the globe. Thank you Jacqui and Shaun Barratt for your vision, and the decisions you have made for Salt to be where it is today.
Why did you choose a career in recruitment?
I didn’t choose recruitment as a career, it chose me! Moving to Sydney in my 20s with the intention of heading on to Europe, as many Kiwis do, I went to a recruitment company for help in finding a job. They asked me to work for them and so my recruitment career began, and I am still here today. I just loved it, no day was the same, I met so many interesting people — candidates, clients and colleagues, and I enjoyed being exposed to so many different companies and industries. I found recruitment incredibly rewarding and while challenging at times, I learnt a lot about myself and grew up very quickly! I guess you could say I caught the recruitment bug and I still love what I do today — too many years on to mention.
What is the greatest reward of being a recruiter?
In my role now, I don’t recruit, but I will never forget that wonderful feeling of placing a candidate in a role that they absolutely love and having a very happy client. It has been very rewarding for me over the years to have clients become candidates and candidates become clients, many of whom we are still engaged with today. At Salt, our philosophy has always been that everyone who engages Salt has to have a great experience (integrity) and I know this behaviour has contributed to our success.
What is the biggest trend you are seeing in recruiting talent at the moment?
We are working in a candidate-driven market. Companies need to have a strong employment brand to attract the best talent for their environment and future growth. We don’t pick talent any more, it picks us.
What is the one big difference you see in recruitment today compared to 16 years ago?
Simply reaching out to a candidate and offering an open position is not the way to attract talent any more. In this candidate-driven market, social media channels allow us to proactively search for potential candidates both active and passive who we can then build relationships with.
Technology has really changed the role of recruiters, gone are the days of advertising in newspapers! We always need to remember that we are in a people business!
Who has been your biggest advocate/mentor in the workplace and why?
I have had two major influencers in my career. When I returned from Australia, I joined a recruitment company called ‘The Lampen Group’ established by Roger Lampen. Roger taught me so much, and I have so much respect for him and what he achieved. Although he retired a number of years ago, his name is so often mentioned as an inspiration to many recruiters in the New Zealand market — at least six of the Salt team in New Zealand worked with Roger at some stage in their careers. Roger gave me the confidence to back myself. If I wasn’t always successful in my approach, he taught me to learn from my mistakes and move on (you knew to never do it again), he was always available to talk through different scenarios, and was open to new ideas.
Jacqui Barratt also has had a big influence in my career. When Jacqui was thinking about setting up her own business (Salt) and asked me to join her, I had absolutely no hesitation in saying yes. Jacqui has always had the most amazing work ethic, and I have never met anyone who can achieve what Jacqui achieves in one day.
Is there one piece of advice you wish somebody gave you at the beginning of your career?
Back yourself, listen and learn. If you are starting a new role, realise you have been chosen as the best candidate for the role, so be confident in your ability to deliver. Embrace this new role as an opportunity to develop your skills and knowledge, and be open to learn from the new team around you.
What is the best piece of advice you would give to a person looking for a new role?
Engage with a Salt Consultant. Ask yourself, ‘Why are you leaving your current role?’. Ensure you are moving on for the right reasons and if so, consider your next move to ensure the new role is the right fit for you. Do your research — ‘Is it a learning and growing environment?’, ‘Is it culturally a good fit for you?’. It is important to ask yourself what do I want and need at this stage in my career.
What is your biggest stress reliever?
Gardening is a great stress reliever for me. I love planting new garden beds and then seeing the results — it is very rewarding and great for the soul. If there is nothing to do in the garden, the next best stress reliever is a good walk along Tamaki Drive in Auckland (where we live). I am always amazed by the beauty of our waterfront, and feel so lucky to live in such a beautiful part of the world.
What does Creating Futures mean to you?
I am proud of being part of the Salt business where our vision is to create futures for our customers globally that will positively impact the digital economy.
Can you share a fun fact about you?
My friends and family tell me I should be an interior and garden designer. I have fun being creative with different plants, spaces, fabrics, textures, and colours, and will often be asked to help with creating a new look.
Thank you, Lesley!