Career profile: Ruth Penfold, director, talent acquisition, Shazam

Written by
Sarah Clark

09 Dec 2016

09 Dec 2016 • by Sarah Clark

CV in brief

  • 2013-present: Shazam, director, talent acquisition
  • 2013: Colas Rail, HR project adviser
  • 2011-2013: Tucker Stone, managing consultant
  • 2008-2011: Bullet Search, senior consultant
  • 2001-2007: Anna Gillett Recruitment, director

Why I love what I do

Shazam (the app known for its music identification capabilities) is an amazing place to work and one of the best-loved apps, which makes my job incredibly rewarding. I love having a tangible, positive impact on the people I interact with, helping them to find their next best role, – and sometimes helping them to realise that might not be with us.

I want people to go away feeling good about their interaction with Shazam, whatever the outcome. The most challenging part of my role is its pace and the agility needed. We operate in an agile environment and that methodology permeates everything we do. You have to think and act fast and engage the right people.

My typical day

I wake at 5am and arrive at work between 7:30-8am. I use my time in the early hours for self-development – for mind, body and soul. Days are a mix of planning, meetings and interviews. I ensure I have a lot of face time with the business, so we’re ahead of the curve when it comes to people planning. I aim to leave the office by 6pm. 

Perks and downsides to my role

I have a tremendous amount of freedom and autonomy, but also responsibility. You have to be great at self-management and learn when to say yes – and when to say no. 

Essential skills for my role

You have to love people. Some argue that’s not a skill, but to work with people in such a direct way, I think it’s essential. The ability to form trusted, valued relationships across the board comes next. 

I landed my role at Shazam

By networking – and owning the role as soon as I got here. Before that, I had a reached a professional plateau, so I made it my mission to meet as many interesting people as I could, ranging from artists/musicians and creatives to corporate folk.

I had no agenda beyond connecting and finding out about their world. One of those people called me when they started at Shazam and everything happened from there. 

I havent followed a set career path

But that’s a wonderful thing. I find myself working in a space where my favourite thing is at the heart of what I do: people. 

How to overcome obstacles

Love is a great foundation – for ourselves and others. We can enrich our daily interactions simply by being more loving. Connection to self is also important. Be honest with yourself, and with everyone else. From that place of truth, connection and love (with a slice of positivity), we can overcome just about anything. 

My career advice would be

Work hard and jump for every opportunity. Be brave, reach out to people who interest you and make them part of your network. People will be your biggest asset as your career unfolds. Always be yourself. For a long time, I made the mistake of trying to fit myself into boxes. Now I am abundantly and unapologetically me.


  • App: Shazam of course
  • Band: Currently, Anderson Paak
  • Song: Rush Of You – Oyinda
  • Thing to do on a Friday night: Psycle spin class, a smoothie and a stroll from the West End with a friend
  • Place to eat: Redemption, Notting Hill
  • Career moment: Being named one of the 11 most influential recruiters by Recruiter Magazine in 2016
  • Holiday spot: Ibiza, New York or Los Angeles

Changeboard digital magazine

This article was featured in the November 2016-January 2017 issue of Changeboard magazine.

To read this article plus many more inspiring stories around the career, talent and leadership agenda; click here and open our digital edition straight on your desktop.