Taking inspiration from recruitment leaders: a focus on solutions and hitting problems head on

11th January 2022

Those of you who follow our social media channels will know that our very own Michelle Reilly was recently interviewed by The Recruitment Network (TRN) for its Inspirational Women in Recruitment podcast series. During the episode, she shared the pivotal career moments which made her the successful business founder and CEO she is today and revealed how she overcomes obstacles with solutions and a positive mindset.

Here is a summary of the key takeaways from the inspiring TRN interview.

Michelle’s Journey

“Back in 1997 I joined a company called the Albany Group as their receptionist. They specialised in international contractor management. I was answering the phone to lots of recruitment agencies and decided I kind of liked the vibe of the business and the recruitment side of things – so I decided that I was going to learn as much as possible.

“I worked my way through the business, through credit control, contractor care, everything possible, and then started to work on compliance. In 2006 I left the Albany Group and joined a company called Lemcon and moved to Singapore. I was their Global Compliance Manager for about four or five years – and while I was living in Singapore, I met the owner of CXC Global. They approached me for them to manage our contractors for the company. I was made redundant from the company I was working for (they built mobile telecoms networks and when Huawei came into the market they quickly went out of business) and CXC approached me again to say, ‘we’d like you to join us. We’re not sure in which capacity – come to Australia, and we’ll decide’. Within 12 hours of having that conversation I was on a flight to Australia, then came back to the UK and set up, what was then, CXC Global Europe. We quickly expanded and had a management buyout in 2016, after which we became 6CATS.”

Career highlights

“I was 22 years’ old when I joined the Albany Group. I had no idea what I wanted to do or what my future was going to be. Like a lot of people, it happened organically. I picked it up, I liked the industry, I just got into it.

After eight years, to be headhunted by an end client who said, ‘we want you to work for us, and you can choose anywhere in the world you want to work’, really changed how I felt about myself. I became much more confident in my ability and that I was actually somebody that people relied on. Being made redundant was a bit of a knock. I was single, living on my own and thought, ‘what am I going to do? How am I going to pay the bills?’ And then to get that headhunting call, it just showed that people believed in me. I decided, when we set up CXC Europe, that we were going to do something completely different. We wanted to add value to the recruitment industry and really show recruiters what true compliance was. The business grew really quickly, and people wanted to work with us because of our compliance guarantee – and that stayed with us following the MBO that lead to the creation of 6CATS International. “

Recruitment leaders supporting others

“We grow lots of people through the business. Amy Dunn is now our operations director. She joined us at 16 on work experience during the summer holidays. I knew she had something and decided that I wasn’t going to let her go. We give people chances and invest a lot in developing our own team.

“If I could change one thing about the business world it would be the fixation that people need to be experienced and educated. It’s all about attitude and energy – if people have that, you should invest in their development.

“At 6CATS our core principles include honesty and transparency. I work out on the floor with the rest of the team. There are no secrets, we all know why we do what we’re doing. Clear communication, training and development are also a key for us. It’s a colourful environment. Our staff are happy people. We only want to hire happy people. We don’t have ‘mood hoovers’.”

When things don’t go to plan

“Covid could have been a low for us. I thought it was going to be. When things could be lows, I often stay up late thinking over in my mind until I find a solution. Our business is about solutions, and I suppose I’m a really solutions-orientated person. If there is a problem, I want to hit it head on, adapt, and find a solution. This is one of the most important things I have learnt in my career: you may have to adapt your business to suit the environment you are in at the time.”

The changing face of recruitment

“When I came into this industry 23 years’ ago, it was a very different environment. Even in the last five years, we have seen people’s priorities change. It used to be pretty much ‘bums on seats’, ‘get business going’. People are now thinking much more strategically about how they can grow their business sustainably and considering all the things they need to do before jumping into a new market.

“During Covid, rather than making a knee-jerk decision, it felt like recruiters wanted to speak to us to understand the best thing to do for their contractors and keep themselves compliant. I think the recruitment industry was remarkable when the pandemic began: the way they kept contractors on site was just amazing.

“We are seeing a lot more remote workers, and a greater acceptance of remote workers, since Covid. We are now managing, more than ever, local nationals in their home country working from home but delivering a service overseas. “

The future for 6CATS

For 6CATS the future is certainly looking positive at the moment and we want to carry on growing. We have two new very young female directors: Stef Cook is our new Sales Director and Amy is Operations Director. They are very hungry and ambitious. We have lots of growth plans for the sales team, and for 6CATS development-wise. We also now have 6CATSPRO, our consultancy arm, and we’re going to put more product offerings under that banner that are really needed in the marketplace.

You can listen to the full interview on TRN’s Spotify here.

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