I found my dream job when I started my career as a headhunter with Aquent in 2007. But the dream didn’t last long.The global financial crisis came along and in 2009 my new boss sat me down and told me: “Make two placements in the next two months, or your role will be made redundant”.
It was like being served with a divorce paper. This was not just a job, I loved my work. I started looking out and spoke to other recruitment agencies. One day, I had a startling aha moment.
People jump ship for an extra $100. Companies hire and fire. And I’m supposed to facilitate the transaction. It’s good for business.
Hmm, what industry am I really in?
• the unworthy or corrupt use of one’s talents for personal or financial gain
I was conflicted – do I really want to stay in this industry? At the same time, a quiet voice kept whispering to me, “Do your own thing”. I pushed that voice aside, impossible. I knew nothing about running a business. And so not interested….
Within two months, things changed completely. The economy swung upwards, and I started making placements again. I got to keep my job. Things are back to normal. The easiest, financially lucrative thing would have been to stay put. But it felt wrong. I couldn’t make myself stay. What else can I do?
I took the leap of faith. I decided to “start my own thing” with another colleague.
I remember our first day of work. We were sitting in our new office: Starbucks. We didn’t want to be defined by how the industry worked. We wanted to define my own way of working – how do we do things better?
I looked at my open notebook and two blank pages stared back at me. Gosh, I don’t know…
We didn’t have the answers, but something resonated really strongly with us: Integrity.
My day-to-day activities quickly went back to the same routine as before. Except for one small change: I started adopting a deeper, more consultative approach with my customers. When taking the job brief, we talked about the business impact the organisation wants, followed by the type of person it would take to make it happen. When interviewing candidates, we talked about their dreams and aspirations, followed by the type of jobs and organisations where they can make the biggest impact. I supported hundreds of senior business leaders to define and pitch their ideas to organisations like Apple and Grab. These business leaders went on to open new markets and launch new products for these organisations.
The conversations were more creative, full of ideas and so much more empowering. “Why don’t you offer this as a paid service?”, some of our clients asked.
We started prototyping new service offerings. Our customers taught us what worked and what didn’t. We built, tested and learnt from 12 prototypes across 3 years.
Today, PERSONNA is on a mission to help people create magical breakthroughs at work. We have coached and facilitated breakthrough thinking for senior business leaders in organisations like Adidas, HP and L’Oreal.
On hindsight, I realise that I didn’t need to leave Aquent. I just needed to change my own behaviour. To see things in a different perspective. I wasn’t fighting against the industry. The fight was within. We all have an inner voice leading us towards what’s right and truthful for ourselves. How you respond determines your success. It’s a choice.
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About Sophia Chin, Performance Coach & Co-founder of PERSONNA
Sophia helps people unleash their full potential and create magical breakthroughs at work.
Over the last 10 years, Sophia has interviewed thousands of senior business leaders who have led transformational change in large organisations.