We took a little time out recently to have a chat with Armstrong Lloyd’s Director Karen Lloyd to find out what makes her tick…
When did you start in recruitment?
It feels like a lifetime ago! After university, I started working for a company called David Chorley Associates in 1996, specialising in Accountancy Recruitment.
How did you get to where you are now?
In 1999, I identified a gap in the accountancy recruitment market in the Sussex area, so set up an independent company with a business partner. As the business grew, I led the marketing strategy, including the development of an e-commerce project. This focused my interest in marketing which had started at uni.
After 14 years I started working in partnership with HR Directors, looking at their talent acquisition strategies and working on streamlining them. Through this, it seemed to me that many companies in the outer London areas didn’t have a marketing recruitment go to and as marketing is changing so fast, they were struggling to do it themselves. So, with my background, 3 years ago I set up Armstrong Lloyd to develop the market and I’m delighted to say that we’ve been growing ever since.
Tell us something surprising about you.
I ran the London marathon in 2010, for Sense. I don’t look like a runner but I’m quite fast! (I did it in 3 hours 34 minutes). I’m planning on running again in 2020.
Tell us about a typical day for you?
I get up early and run before work. I start my day in the office around 8.15am and go through correspondence. I then have a quick meeting with the team to ensure they have all the support they need for the day.
Later I get hands on, review live opportunities and liaise with candidates and clients. I often have a call at lunchtime with our marketing consultant to discuss ongoing campaigns, social media and content strategies for the business. The afternoon sees me getting on with headhunting activities or often I’ll attend a networking event or conference to keep up to date.
In the evening – I love cooking and it’s a big part of my life. After I’ve prepared the meal, I’ll sit down with the family to talk about our day.
What are the biggest challenges you face in recruiting marketing people today?
There are several challenges really, but the biggest now is to do with talent pooling new skills. Marketing roles are currently becoming more niche, it could be technical SEO, Analytics, or Marketing Automation for example. Some of these skill sets are developing fast and companies want the latest cutting-edge people. However, because they are new, they are scarce. Then when you add on additional “must have” criteria such as matching industry background, or specific software experience or tight budgets meaning salaries are pinched, it becomes a real challenge to meet expectations.
What are the highlights of running Armstrong Lloyd for you?
Oh, that’s easy! The biggest highlight is seeing my team grow and develop. I get such a kick out of witnessing them flourish. Personally, I really enjoy the constant learning curve we’re on. I love finding out about each new company and how they operate and approach their marketing strategy. Building that relationship so that they become repeat customers, and seeing candidates come back to us or recommend us because we’ve given them a good service, is really rewarding.
Do you think the traditional negative perceptions of recruiters are justified today?
I think it really depends on the recruiter. As with any industry, there are small pockets of people that bring the industry down. I saw an example on LinkedIn the other day when a candidate had been submitted for the same role twice; once with their permission and once without.
It’s the minority who exploit the process for their own gain that drag the rest of us down. But we all know that negative publicity reaches so much further than good, and with the advance of social media, that reach is all the greater, so I think sometimes the perception is worse than the reality.
Having specialised in marketing, what do you see for the future skills base?
Marketing is growing up and will continue to do so. I see more qualifications on the horizon to formalise the emerging skills. I think there will be more acceptance of marketing as a route for the future to a higher platform. Traditionally, a CEO would be a sales or finance director but it is very feasible that we will see marketing come more and more into the mix.
The recognition of the commercial and analytical elements and a more complex skill set is adding to the gravitas of the industry, which will help to grow its prestige over the next 10 years.
What do you see as the biggest challenges facing marketers in the job market in the future?
Keeping up with the brace of changes! I would say to beware of siloing yourself however, particularly at entry level. Many new marketers with 5 years or so experience will have little, if any offline experience. Yet some companies are going back to a more traditional marketing mix.
It is great to specialise, but be aware of the broader context. Keep a commercial awareness and be open to blending skills such as those traditionally focused across finance and commercial to meet the demands of the future.
Either / Or
Tea or Coffee? Coffee, but it has to be black!
Beach or mountains? Beach
Savoury or sweet? Savoury every time
Talking or texting? Talking
Good movie or a good book? Movie
Time of day? Morning; when I go for a run and see the world waking up
Meal to have out? A good steak in a gastro pub
Way to stay fit? Running
Band to see live? Coldplay – I’m even off to Germany soon to see them!
Thing to do on a Friday night? Relaxing with family and a good glass of wine