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Female Leader, Nikki Beaumont, CEO Beaumont People

Nikki Beaumont, CEO & Founder Beaumont People has dedicated her 30 year career to helping people find their next career step. With the tagline, Placing People First, Nikki has embedded this philosophy within her business. Her response to the Global Financial Crisis downturn was to introduce a low cost recruitment service line for Charities, so that she could retain her team, and support the Charity sector. This service has collectively saved 320 Charities more than $20 million in recruitment fees over the last decade.

Nikki’s passion for the industry, thought leadership and dedicated service to clients culminated in a 2018 RSCA Lifetime Achievement Award.

You’ve spent a 30 year career in recruitment, and started your own firm Beaumont People in 2001. Share with us some of the highlights of your career journey, and how you have strategically grown your business.

If we go way back, one of the highs of my personal career journey would certainly be to moving to Australia to take up the role for the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games as General Manager of The Olympic Recruitment Centre. It was a huge job which I was totally unprepared for, and to be fair more than a little unskilled for. The Director of Olympics Di Pass thought differently though. It was her support and belief in me that got me through. That has been a massive lesson for me. If you give your people the support, direction and trust – they can and will thrive, even if they themselves don’t believe it sometimes.

There were lots of tears in the lead up to games times. The pressure was huge. The jobs were rolling in daily, as were the candidate applications. It was a logistical nightmare at times. We also had never done anything like this before. So, it was just one problem solving challenge after another, which looking forward has stood me in good stead.

There were amazing highs too. We had such a wonderful team spirit in the office. We worked ridiculously long hours but we had a purpose and a common goal. I made it my mission to make work fun, ensure people felt appreciated and celebrated all the wins. It got us through and even today it is how I lead my team.

After the Olympic Games, it was a pretty obvious choice, time to create my own recruitment business! It had always been an intention, it was just a case of timing, and after running the Olympic Recruitment Project, I was game for anything. I started Beaumont People in 2001, a recruitment agency in Sydney, and 18 years later here we are. I still love the recruitment industry and I’m passionate about employee experience.

We’ve grown very consistently over the 18 years to currently 2 offices, Sydney and Byron Bay, and a team of 40 and around 200 casuals. We’ve grown organically along the way, growing where and when the opportunities presented and thankfully for the most part we’ve been on the positive side of good choices versus learning opportunities.

Although I have had an annual business plan every year since the very beginning, it has been something I have developed myself or in consultation with my management team. Only in the last 2 years have we worked with specialised strategy consultants to develop a stronger, more detailed strategic plan. Involving a much wider group of people in the business has made an even greater impact. It’s been worth investing in.

I’m very much a “let’s give it a go and see what happens” kind of person. My risk profile is pretty high. I know I can make people feel uneasy with my “lets just do it” attitude, with a preference to giving it a go and winging it, over an awful lot of research and procrastination. I’m also an ideas girl. They whirl around my head and fly out like sparks… 24 hours a day…I drive the team crazy sometimes, and myself to be honest.

I’m not great at saying no. My team are though. And my management team particularly have a whole host of ways that they have learnt to say no to me: not now, not until next week, which do you want us to tackle first, not my expertise, try speaking to …I’m on to them though!

Over the last decade, you have saved your charity clients a collective $20 million in recruitment fees! Tell us about the impact this has had, and why you started this service.

We are so proud to have saved charities $20 million in recruitment fees. It’s a simple model that any business could adopt. All we are doing is providing the same service we do for other businesses, but just as the very basic cost of delivery, i.e. we reduce our fees to a point where costs are mostly covered, but we don’t profit from providing this service.

It’s clearly had a huge impact on the charities we have worked with. Not just in the $20 million that they have retained to do the wonderful work they do, but also the impact of having the very best people in the roles when they need them. Additionally, we are now so well connected, so well networked and knowledgeable that we can make a real impact. We act as trusted advisors to the charities industry. Helping them define job roles, advising on market salaries and conditions, being their cheerleader out in the market to attract the highest calibre of candidates, and much more.

We also provide other services in-kind, such as complimentary access to events and leading industry speakers, complimentary usage of our boardroom and meeting facilities; as well as corporate volunteering and fundraising. We funded and facilitated two leadership mentoring programmes for the charity sector, which has been very well regarded.

Beaumont People as a business has also benefitted so much from what I guess could be described as a social enterprise. It’s had such a positive impact for everyone within Beaumont People, not just the team who directly work with the charities. The “feel good” across the business has such a beneficial impact. It’s grounding to learn about so many charities and what they do. It makes you appreciate and understand some of the challenges out there, and the amazing people who work in the sector.

One of our values is collaboration, so we all contribute to making a difference. We share jobs and share candidates so that all clients get the widest choice of people, from industry and from out of industry. Of course the same applies to our candidates. At the end of the day, we work to get the best people in the right roles.

What we have done with the charity sector is quite unique. It’s also helped us stand out, and stand for something that’s different, and for the greater good.

What does Beaumont People’s tagline “Placing People First” mean for your culture and your clients?

We took our time to discover the tagline Placing People First, even though ironically it’s what we have always done. Interestingly, I think we are even better at Placing People First now more than ever since we’ve articulated it. It just shows you the power of your purpose.

As a recruitment business, it’s important for us to lead by example. We really do put people at the centre of strategy and our decision making.

We get to know candidates really well, which enables us to match them more closely to opportunities and organisations that align. Clients get a higher calibre of candidate, better job match and overall better result, as well as much higher rates of retention. Candidates get a job with a good business, that values people, and that really aligns with their personal preferences, motivations and needs.

What are the most important considerations for employers of any size in the recruitment process?

Place People First! Hiring the very best people that fit your values and culture, and have the capability to do the job is one of the most important things you can do. Get serious about recruiting great people, but don’t be too serious. Take the time to think really carefully about who you want to hire, to do what, why, when, how? So many clients knee jerk hire and get it wrong. Or even worse, get someone who fits most of the job requirements or experience, but is completely misaligned on behaviour and values.

I believe in really getting to know people throughout the recruitment process. Allow people to shine their own light. Don’t make the selection process stressful – you won’t see the real person and you won’t be able to make an accurate decision.

Once you’ve hired, give people the tools and support to succeed. Don’t just expect people to know. Guide them, be honest with them, give them feedback, ask for their feedback and be human.

What’s one piece of advice for future female leaders?

Hire the absolute best people you can find, and that doesn’t necessarily mean on skill. Hire those who share your values and are passionate about your purpose and your beliefs. Get to know your people: listen, encourage, trust them, offer your unconditional support. Respect and appreciate them and be prepared to give honest feedback in the kindest way possible. Nurture your people, encourage them to develop themselves, give them room to take the reins and learn from their mistakes. Allow them to be themselves and be yourself too. Be authentic and vulnerable, but most of all lead by example and with courage.

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Posted by Jade Collins - Femeconomy Director

Jade Collins has 20 years’ global experience in corporate executive Human Resources and management consulting roles in the Mining, Energy and Aerospace industries, leading large scale, complex multi-million-dollar change management programs. Jade finds the combination of her HR, Psychology and MBA qualifications and her leadership experience is invaluable for increasing gender equality in leadership across industries. Jade was a member of the Queensland Government's Strategic Advisory Group for the Toward Gender Parity: Women on Boards Initiative and the 2019 CQU Alumni of the Year for Social Impact for her work with Femeconomy.