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Earlier this year, In honour of ‘International Women’s Day’, we interviewed one of the inspirational female leaders at Meet, Whitney Hood. Whitney is the Division Director for Medical Devices in San Francisco. She joined the team back in November 2017, having worked in in the west coast medical device and diagnostics market since 2011. She tells us about her career so far and gives us an insight into where the Medical Device team will be developing...
What was your first role in recruitment and what made you choose this career?
My first role in recruitment was at 22, I joined an office which had been open for around 12 months and had a head count of 18. To be honest, I knew nothing about recruitment before this. I’d originally wanted to work in wine distribution and got a job in the Bay Area but before starting realised it wasn’t for me. I went to one of my older friends who worked for a boutique recruitment firm for advice - she asked if I’d ever considered recruitment.
The company I joined was a global firm but because of the size of the San Fran office it was like joining a start up, I grew up there. We had no reputation in San Fran and no database, so we were building from the ground up. I was a resourcer for just 3 months before I became a 360 consultant, it was very much sink or swim, but I built out a market I’m now very passionate about.
By the time I left, I’d mentored a team of 5 and was running business development for the whole office across Medical Devices and Pharmaceuticals.
What is the greatest achievement of your career so far?
There are two! At my first company I was doing well, but I was finding it difficult to break the threshold of doing really well. I was doing everything by the book, then I had a sort of ‘ah moment’ - I wasn’t thinking creatively. So, I started focusing on my personal strengths and pitching my services in a more creative way, finally it all clicked. I billed $700,000 of retained business in 1 year, very lucrative for the business but also life changing for me.
More personally was a short time after I left my most recent position. I wasn’t sure about staying in recruitment because I thought I was burnt out and over it. However, I took some time to reflect and realised it wasn’t recruitment I disliked it was the environment I had been working in. This realisation reinvigorated me, I felt passionate again. Passionate about growing a business and passionate about the personal growth I knew the industry provides. I’m happy meet was there at that time.
What are the best parts about the job?
It’s a space where you can easily play to your strengths. If a company is a good company they will give you the foundation of skills you need to do well, but to be really successful you need to take control. Meet are the kind of company that let you do things in the way you think they should be done and that’s important for me.
Another factor is the market I work in, the Medical Device space is so cool. My favourite thing is going on client meetings, seeing bionic exoskeletons and artificial hearts. I’ve even been in the ER and watched surgery on a pig!
Do you find any aspects of the job frustrating? How do you overcome these?
There are aspects that are frustrating, not so much within the Medical Device space, but recruitment in general. A placement is a two-way fit, this is very specific to our industry. You may have the perfect candidate, who a client loves, but they don’t feel the same. On the flip side this is something that keeps it exciting!
Another thing is balance. How do we fit everything in? As a 360 consultant that’s organising your time to spend an even amount on candidate sourcing and business development. But even when I was focusing on business development and mentoring my team, it was challenging to find the balance.
Why did you choose to join meet?
There are a few reasons. Firstly, it was serendipitous. Graham (our Senior Manager of Global Talent Acquisition) reached out to me when I left my most recent role. At first, I wasn’t interested, but Graham kept reaching out, checking in and 8-9 months later it was the right time for me. My story is a story of good timing, I think that will resonate with people. It’s a great recruitment lesson too, Graham was persistent; he kept in touch and eventually it paid off.
I also didn’t want to leave the Medical Device space, I really love it. Meet gave me the opportunity to grow this market and I was only the sixth hire into the San Fran office so it provided the opportunity to build something from scratch again. Fundamentally, the role Hannah and Paul envisioned was exactly what I was looking for.
I’ve had a lot of bosses, all of them men. When I met Hannah it clicked for me, she’s an incredible mentor. What Hannah and Paul have built is a business with a unique culture. A good culture is challenging to find in a recruitment firm and the importance placed on culture at Meet is really refreshing.
Where do you see the medical devices business developing in the next 2 years?
We have started our headcount growth and obviously that will continue. My goal this year is to be the most profitable start up team in Meet history! The Medical Device space is great from a recruitment standpoint, so in two years I hope the team is significantly larger and that we have started expanding from the West Coast across the US.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years’ time?
I’ve been in a hands-on role my whole career, and I love that. But I would like to develop into a more strategic role within the business. Running a large division and having an impact on the macro decision. You have to grow from the ground up.
And on a personal level?
I grew up in the Bay Area, my family is here. But I’ve got a lot of travelling to do, my number one destination is Tokyo and then I’d love to see Africa.