Get to know your peers in the global HR community through our career profile series. This week, we talk to Juliette Tew, senior talent acquisition consultant at AECOM. She talks through a career path that’s taken in Dubai, Qatar and Malaysia, the importance of being open to new opportunities and why her addiction to crisps eventually persuaded her to come home.
Name: Juliette Tew
Job: Senior talent acquisition consultant
Current employer: AECOM
CV in brief:
- November 2013-present, senior talent acquisition consultant, AECOM
- July 2012-July 2013, talent resourcing and HR services manager, InterContinental Hotel, Kuala Lumpur (I did a 4 month contract in between for the Hays / Honey RPO in South East Asia)
- March 2011-December 2011, talent resourcing manager, InterContinental Hotels Group, Dubai
- October 2009-October 2010, recruitment coordinator, Aspetar Sports Medicine Hospital, Doha
A day in your life
Tell us about your job and organisation
AECOM is a global provider of professional technical and management support services to a broad range of markets, including transportation, facilities, environmental, energy, water and government. With approximately 45,000 employees around the world, AECOM is a leader in all of the key markets that it serves and provides a blend of global reach, local knowledge, innovation and technical excellence in delivering solutions that create, enhance and sustain the world’s built, natural, and social environments.
I am a senior talent acquisition consultant and work for the Consulting service line within the Program, Cost, Consultancy business unit. They cover a multitude of roles from Facilities Management to Procurement Advisory.
Who do you report into?
Head of talent acquisition, Europe.
Tell us about your team
The team is a mixture of experienced and junior recruiters, from different backgrounds, bringing together their knowledge of various sectors. We also have a separate graduate recruitment and projects team.
What is the most rewarding part of your role?
Filling the tough roles through direct sourcing methods.
What is the most challenging part of the role?
Finding those candidates in a buoyant and market driven industry where we are fighting against our competitors for the same candidates and making ourselves the viable option.
What does a typical day look like for you?
I check my emails on my Blackberry on the train into work and answer anything straightforward – it means I have less to do once my working day really starts! I would say I receive c. 100 emails a day and I review and prescreen more than 100 CVs a week. I don’t have a typical day really. Every day is different, but I would usually meet with at least two or three of my hiring managers to discuss new roles, progress of existing vacancies, interviews, feedback following interviews and offer management.
Why did you choose your current organisation to work for?
I saw the role advertised and it sounded exactly like the role I was looking for, challenging and with a global organisation. I previously worked for one of our biggest competitors in a similar role (although that was in Dubai), so knew the industry and the personalities it attracted. AECOM really encourages work/life balance too which is something I strongly believe in.
What are the perks and downsides of your role?
Working with the talent acquisition guys and the wider HR team including my hiring managers is a definite perk. I have really good relationships with many of them, but it can be challenging, so I have to adapt my approach and personality to fit who I am dealing with.
What skills are essential for the role you’re in?
Relationship building and communication skills are two of the most important attributes in this role, as you have to be able to deal with so many different personalities. Also, resourcing and recruitment obviously.
How did you get to where you are now?
I was a credit analyst 11 years ago! Then I got made redundant which was a good thing as I needed a career change. I saw a role advertised for a researcher at a headhunting company in the construction industry and thought: “I can do that!” I moved to Dubai in 2006, at the height of the construction boom, after receiving a call out of the blue as an ex-colleague had recommended me. You couldn’t get me on that plane quick enough! A year later I moved into my first in-house role with EC Harris, and loved it.
The recession in Dubai took me on a different path. My first role outside of the construction industry took me to a sports medicine hospital in Qatar, which was extremely challenging. Then, in 2011 I returned to Dubai and joined InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) as a talent resourcing manager on what was initially a three month contract in their corporate office.
After that contract came to an end I moved into the same role for the cluster properties of IHG Dubai Festival City to cover maternity leave. That was a great experience as we employed 60 nationalities and I learned so much. I had no idea how seriously sites like TripAdvisor were taken and I will always write a review now if somewhere is exceptionally good or bad.
As it was coming to the end I was offered a three month contract by Hays to go to South East Asia as a consultant for an RPO and again thought “why not?” as I had visited SE Asia many times and always enjoyed it. I was based in Kuala Lumpur and really liked the city, so as my role was only short term I got in touch with an ex-colleague and ended up returning to IHG and joining InterContinental Hotel , Kuala Lumpur.
When the end of my year’s contract was in sight I decided that deven and a half years of expat life was enough for me, Dorothy (from the Wizard of Oz) was right – there is no place like home. I came back to the UK in August 2013, had a bit of a break and then started with AECOM in November.
What was your first job? How did you get it and why did you choose to work there?
NatWest Bank. It was so long ago I really can’t remember how or why but I think I applied directly to them, by letter. It really was that long ago!
Have you followed the career path you set out to?
I never really had one, although I did always want to live and work overseas.
What challenges have you faced along the way?
A lot of them have been cultural as I have worked in the Middle East and Asia. This is where my relationship building skills help, in and outside of work.
What’s the craziest thing you’ve done to land a job?
It wasn’t how I landed the job but after my contract with the Hays RPO ended I took a month’s break to see some of Asia. I was all packed up and ready to leave Malaysia, but five days before flying out I landed the role with InterContinental Kuala Lumpur.
What has been the proudest moment of your career so far?
I have two. The first one is in my first in-house role. I grew the region from 190 to 500 in 18 months and was publicly thanked at a conference that all employees attended for all of my hard work. The second is when I presented the monthly town hall at InterContinental Hotel Kuala Lumpur around the time of Chinese New Year, and managed to learn a few words of Mandarin to kick off the meeting. It went down really well with the employees.
Do you have any career regrets?
Not really although I used to wish I had moved abroad earlier. But I had always assumed it was something that other people did. Now I know the difficult part is making the decision – once you have your mind made up the rest will follow.
What advice would you offer to others who are looking to get to where you are now?
Be prepared to learn the resourcing part of recruitment, you learn so much about the industry by talking to your sector candidates. Also, get some international experience! It opens so many doors and is a great learning curve. It is always a talking point during interviews.
What advice would you give to your 22-year-old self?
Learn the basics of recruitment – resourcing and sector knowledge. And move abroad!
- Coffee or tea? Both. I can’t function until I have had a cup of tea in the morning but come 3pm I want a coffee
- Jam or marmalade? Jam. Preferably apricot or black cherry
- The Beatles or The Rolling Stones? My parents are huge fans of both so I grew up listening to them but wouldn’t have a preference
- Mac or PC? PC
- The Guardian or The Times? I read The Times online
- BBC or ITV? BBC as I can’t stand adverts!
- M&S or Waitrose? Now that is tough. But I walk past a Waitrose on my way to the station so do go in there a lot more often
- Morning or night? Night, without a doubt
- Rain on snow? Snow. Until it turns to slush that is
- Sweet or savoury? Savoury. I am addicted to crisps. One of the main reasons I moved home was because you couldn’t get a decent packet of crisps in Malaysia!
- App: Whatsapp – great to keep in touch with my friend overseas
- TV show: Friends. I have seen every episode at least 10 times and never get sick of it
- Song: Don’t Speak by No Doubt. I really don’t know why, just because
- Book: Little Women. I once missed my stop on the train because I was so engrossed
- Sports team: I really don’t have one
- Thing to do on a Friday night: Drink wine. No explanation needed
- Place to eat: So many! But some of my favourites are Little Bay in Farringdon and Eat 17 and Orford Saloon in Walthamstow Village. Also my Mum’s house as she is a great cook. The best meal I’ve ever had was probably a crab curry in a place called Coco Rock in Koh Samui.
- Holiday spot: Again so many. But Fisherman’s Village in Koh Samui, and Ao Nang in Krabi (both Thailand) are really special to me. As is San Francisco.
- Piece of advice you’ve been given: Be positive, be cheerful and don’t be afraid of the word no.
By Karam Filfilan
Karam is Changeboard Middle East's editor and UK deputy editor.
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