Career advice, insights & tips for HR professionals
Nicola Grimshaw, chief executive officer, Oakleaf Partnership 17/10/2012
Career interview by Nicola Grimshaw, chief executive officer at Oakleaf Partnership.
Click to jump to section
Brief CV history
List your last four jobs:
1. CEO, Oakleaf Partnership, August 2011-Present
2. Executive director, Digby Morgan, 2005-2011
3. Director, Michael Page, London and Sydney, 1996-2005
4. Senior manager, Arthur Andersen, London and Sydney, 1984-1996
Q&A interview questions
When you were a kid, what was your career dream?
I had no idea, and I still didn’t when I left university. That’s why I went to train at Andersen’s, so I could get an insight into a lot of different industries for the 3 years traineeship and see where I wanted to go. I certainly didn’t plan on staying as an accountant for 12 years!
Q. How did you get to where you are now?
A. I've always believed that good things happen to good people and I have not overtly sought to climb the career ladder. When managing people I've always aimed to get the best out of the individual and believed that by doing this, I would be supported by great teams and together we could do the best for the business. Along the way, I seemed to get the promotions!
Q. Who inspired you along your career journey, and why?
A. My parents have always been an inspiration by teaching me that hard work, integrity and resilience will help to get you places.
John Maxted, the founding CEO of Digby Morgan, was an inspiration of how to lead a business with passion, humour and total professionalism. He kept the value of the individual at the very heart of an organisation.
Q. Why did you join your current organisation?
A. Oakleaf was on a springboard of growth when I joined them last year. Richard Colgan recognised that I could help support and grow the business through building strong infrastructure and further developing the brand and employee engagement across the business. We had worked together at Michael Page and so know how our strengths could complement each other to enhance the business.
Q. Describe your typical day
A. There isn’t really one, but on a work day when I come to London, the alarm generally goes at 5:15 AM and I am up checking emails and doing a little bit of work in the quiet of the day. Quick read of The Guardian online on the train and probably an 8 AM breakfast meeting. Then in the office, it’s a mix of in-house meetings, coffees with a couple of clients, candidates or consultants, emails, more emails, and a catch up with the head of finance on the numbers. I’m a morning person rather than a night owl, so I look forward to getting home about 7:30 and sharing the end of the day with my partner over a candlelit dinner and glass of wine.
Q. What’s your greatest achievement?
A. Being able to wake up each day feeling 100%. I have a wonderful home life, great friends to look out for me, good health and, importantly I work with teams of talented individuals who I respect and believe that together we can achieve even better things for the business.
Q. What are your biggest challenges?
A. We are in an exciting growth mode at Oakleaf, with clarity of where we want to get to. In the short term that will be to keep achieving record quarters, growing and retaining the teams to ensure we are able to achieve our desire to be the most admired HR recruitment business in the UK. The volatile economic environment adds a challenging dimension to all this.
Q. What career advice would you give someone aspiring to your role?
A. Follow your instinct. Do the right thing by yourself and for others. Work out what your strengths are and what you really enjoy doing. Apply those traits in your career and you can end up doing well in your chosen career. Take control of what you want to do, take a risk occasionally and believe in yourself.
- Business book(s): The Tao of Motivation, Max Landsberg
- Website(s): Google... the answer to everything
- Music: Anything from the 1980’s. I'm just happy humming along to Heart FM
- TV programme/film: Masterchef or Gardeners' World.
Nicola Grimshaw, chief executive officer at Oakleaf Partnership.
Nicola Grimshaw is chief executive officer at Oakleaf Partnership.