Inspiring Business Women: Clare Dallas-Ross

Clare is the Senior Manager for the Business Transformation & Technology teams in Hydrogen's Edinburgh office, and has been supporting top tier clients in Financial Services, Industry and Commerce, as well as the start-up community, for more than 8 years. In the transformation space, she has expertise in Business Change Programmes, IT & Infrastructure Programmes, Agile Transformation, Data Transformation, Cloud Transformation, Operational Improvement and Process Improvement, and has recruited for almost every role there is across the varied Technology space.

Can you tell us about your career progression to date and any key moments that have helped you get where you are?

I've had some kind of job for as long as I can remember. My parents were really good at teaching me the value of money and of hard work and were good at rewarding me for it. For example, I had an awful job when I was 14 that paid way below minimum wage, so my mum doubled what I earned to make it worthwhile. I was really glad of that job later because it gave me the experience that I needed to get my next few jobs as a teenager, and then in turn those gave me a packed CV when it came time to get a real job. After university, I totally fell into recruitment. I thought I'd only do it for a few months, but it turned out to be a great job for me because I thrived on the fast pace and the customer interaction. Working in a target driven environment, what you put into it directly affects what you get out of it, and I love that because it means I'm in control. It turns out that I'm a total workaholic, obsessed with providing a good service to my clients and candidates and that has helped me progress my career quite quickly. In terms of key moments, it’s been when I’ve made the most of the opportunities I’ve fortunately been given. For example, I remember really clearly when my team leader and my director both handed in their notice on the same day. Ian our CEO flew up to Scotland and asked me if I'd be up for taking on their jobs in a combined capacity, under the guidance of a director in London. I was completely terrified, had no idea how to fill their shoes or cope without them, but of course, I was extremely grateful for the opportunity and took it!

Do you think that your gender has ever hindered or blocked any personal progression?

This is a difficult one because my gender definitely makes me stand out a bit, but I wouldn't say that it's blocked any progression. That's possibly because I was brought up to not let that get in my way. I was encouraged to be the first girl on the football team at primary school and I'm better at DIY than most of the men I know, for example! However, there have also been times when I've suspected that it might have had an impact. I recruit in the Technology space, which is a really male-dominated area, and a big part of our job is building strong relationships with our clients. When most of those clients are male, there have definitely been a few times when I've stuck out as the only female recruiter at a client briefing, or the only one that doesn't get the football chat that's going on. It's the same with my management team peers now, I'm the only female in quite a large group of managers and I'm definitely different. I'm undeniably the most emotional and I totally overthink things as well, but it's not a blocker for me because my peers are really respectful of my different qualities.

Can you pinpoint when you first noticed an emphasis on diversity and inclusion around you?

It was probably as a young child because my mum was a single parent and worked 50+ hours a week. I grew up in the Caribbean where diversity and inclusion then were definitely not taken as seriously as they are now. There's a huge divide between ethnic groups and the rich and poor, and in many ways, they were very old-fashioned about gender roles, where women traditionally stay at home and men go out to work. My mum was a single, female, white senior manager and some people treated her terribly, purely because she was different. I also stood out at school for the same reason, but thankfully, my mum educated me well in the importance of inclusion on every level, whether that was race, gender or ability and she gave me the tools to deal with being different. At Hydrogen, Ian, our CEO, takes it really seriously too, one of our MDs is female now, and we're really taking strides forward to have a senior female leadership team with initiatives like "I Own My Time", which definitely helps everyone, including working mums. That kind of support around us is a great thing.

In your experience, what are the benefits of diverse teams and diverse organisations?

I don't have much experience with diverse organisations outside of Hydrogen, but I definitely would say that the benefits include difference in life experience and difference of opinion. I would hate working somewhere where everyone was the same and where there was an intolerance of different opinions. I love having a balance in my own team. You want everyone to get on as a team, but, and this is the challenge, if everyone got on because they were all exactly the same, we'd never be put out of our comfort zone. I find it often works best when a team is similar, but the valuable growth happens when you're put out of that comfort zone and you have to work with people who see things differently. That's when I've observed the most growth in employees I've worked with and the most growth in myself is when I've worked with people that are different from me.

What advice do you have for young women looking to make a career in the recruitment industry?

You’ll want to do it if you trust the people around you and you trust the organisation that you're with. That goes for every job, not just recruitment, though. I won't lie, I often work long hours out of choice because I choose to take on so much, but I don’t have to and I also have colleagues that work very flexible working schedules and they do really well. You will definitely get out of it what you put into it. If you want to work super hard and progress quickly, making a good amount of money at the same time, then it's very possible to do that in a career like this and still be supported when you take a step back to focus on family. It's also important to find a company where you can influence change, and where you can speak up and get listened to. But I would advise people to be aware that recruitment can be very up and down. On the down days, you've always got your favourite clients and candidates to fall back on and speak to, and for me that makes it more than worth it!

Posted almost 3 years ago
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Denise Dima

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