Pioneer Series: Operating efficiently – an interview with Charlotte West, Head of Global Operations, Meet Recruitment

Mar 4, 2019

Charlotte West Pioneer Series

Could you give us some background on Meet Recruitment?

Meet is recognised as a market leader in the life sciences and pharmaceutical recruitment industry. Having grown considerably since incorporating in 2009, we are lucky to have a wealth of experienced and passionate people in every area of the business, I count myself lucky to be part of a business in which people truly love what they do.


What does ‘operating efficiently’ mean to you?

Good time management is everything. I have a team of three reporting to me, so I really push this. You have to be on top of your workload so you can be flexible enough for ad hoc requests and make sure the fundamental tasks get achieved on time.

Because we’re always working on several projects at any one time, there’s always some crossover. When you’re supporting a fast-moving agency you have to make sure you commit to regularly sharing your knowledge.


How do you balance your ongoing work with the requests from consultants?

What I always say to my team is – prioritise. The main focus is ensuring the business can run and making sure the consultants can do their jobs.

It can be a challenge as my team work incredibly broadly, looking at anything from IT support to travel and event management. Working like this means you have to be very dynamic and a sense of humour is a must!


What advice would you give advice to someone in your role wanting to maximise support from their board?

Transparency is so important. Meet’s board pride themselves on being very open and give everyone a lot of support.


Do Meet’s clients benefit from how you run your team, or is simply about maximizing efficiency behind the scenes?

The team I sit in covers such huge areas of the business that we call ourselves ‘The Hub’. Clients may not realise the effort that’s gone into making their experience go smoothly, but there are tangible benefits to the integrated way we run things. For instance, part of my role involves reviewing client terms, which has an enormous impact on a deal.


What other areas do you cover?

I’m a lot busier now that I work with a global team! The Hub manage all of our marketing in-house, both to keep costs down and so they can be reactive to the pace of the business. I then cover compliance (both internally and for contractors) and I make sure the business is audit-ready. I’m also responsible for evaluating the technology we use and whether it’s fit for purpose.


How do you keep on top of tech-based opportunities?

I’m signed up to a lot of different sources! APSCO has a technology forum which is really helpful. I also talk to a lot of people and find out what they recommend and use. I talk to a lot of people too to get their actual experiences, rather than relying on what a product claims to do.

I monitor what’s new on the market, what our competitors are using and take time to analyse companies that are actively embracing new platforms.


How do you evaluate and make best use of your chosen technology?

Technology is constantly evolving in the recruitment space and it’s important to make sure that we use ticks all the boxes.

When we come to the end of a user agreement with a supplier, I’ll always take the opportunity to see what else is out in the marketplace. I take us back to the drawing board and look at the main objectives: what do we need this technology to do?

Mind-mapping is a useful tool when I’m thinking about what works and what doesn’t. With technology, it might have all the bells and whistles but it’s my job to say, do we really need it to do that?

We also run a mix of in-house and external training to help keep engagement up. Our internal trainer is a technology specialist and they do a lot of work introducing our team to features with particular value. Growth analyst trainers from cube19 also visit us, to answer questions and provide real-life business scenarios.


How does Engage’s Agency Back Office help Meet Recruitment operate efficiently?

We use Engage to automate our back-office processes; linking our CRM system with the Pay & Bill. Through this we have achieved a far more streamlined experience, gaining us time and saving us money. The Engage platform has also enabled us to operate more efficiently regarding contract side compliance as this is all managed, stored and facilitated automatically on the platform.


When making new hires to your team, how do you select candidates with the right kind of flexibility?

We work really broadly so we don’t necessarily require a hard skill like a qualification. I look for someone that can maintain their own work schedule and can adapt to the changing needs of the business. Every day brings something new and the business is growing so quickly, you have to adapt.


Speaking of adaptation, work modalities are constantly changing. If a colleague chooses to work remotely or is based overseas, what’s the key to making it work?

It can be a challenge, as face-to-face time is so important. I try and organise trips to make this possible. Video calls are also a useful tool. The key is understanding your colleagues as individuals and giving them what they need to put in that autonomous time.


Do you see your role changing over the next 12 months?

We’ve got a roadmap to launch in Germany, which is an exciting step forward but involves a lot of legislation and operational barriers such as data protection. We’ll be constantly learning and adapting to delivering services in different countries.

We’ve also got to navigate the aforementioned face-to-face barrier as we work with an increasing number of remote workers. A lot of interesting challenges lie ahead!


Read more interviews with top recruitment professionals here, or learn more about how Engage’s Agency Back Office software can help your agency operate efficienctly.