This Wednesday 8th March is International Women’s Day. The United Nations’ theme this year is “DigitALL: Innovation and technology for gender equality.” As part of the STR Group, a leader in STEM recruitment, urban wanted to take this opportunity to celebrate the achievements of Charlotte Kingsbury, VP of US Operations for urban whose focus lies within the architecture and interior design industry.
I worked within the fitness industry for 5 years and always enjoyed a challenge as well as having an active lifestyle. However, I knew the fitness industry was not a long-term career for me due to the low wage and lack of career progression opportunities. I trained clients who taught me about recruitment, how challenging the job is and how sweet the rewards are not only financially but for a long-term career. At this stage, I totally bought into the idea of being a recruitment consultant and began my search for a local recruitment company that would give me a chance. Here started my career at urban (formerly part of Stride) at the STR Group.
During my search for a role in recruitment, I noticed that 90% of the managers interviewing me were men. At this stage, I did not know how much I would love becoming a recruitment consultant, let alone becoming a manager growing a successful team.
The STR promotional criteria create a career path for professionals to progress through each level to achieve promotions based on individual and team performance. There is no reason why a woman cannot achieve this. As much as it was disheartening to see a limited amount of women leaders within recruitment, this did not stop me from pursuing my own career aspirations to prove women can become Directors in recruitment, and I’m hopeful women who attend interviews within the STR Group can visualise their own career path through my experience.
I believe as a firm we encourage anyone to interview or try recruitment if they feel they have the right skills to work within a sales role. I believe the ratio of women who are in trainee or mid-level positions is almost equal to men, however, the industry still seems to have a high ratio of men within leadership positions.
I am aware changes cannot be achieved overnight, however as a member of STR’s EDI Board, we are making changes ourselves to be a more diverse and inclusive organisation through positive action, which can only add value to employees at our firm.
During my first 2 years at the company, I progressed through 4 promotions to gain the title of Lead Consultant. At this point in my career, I had the opportunity to start managing and growing my own team. From 2018 to 2020, I started our US division with my first hire Kevin Bailey and I continued to grow a successful New York team. To become an Operations Manager, I was required to have a reasonably sized team and take on management responsibilities as well as my team billing $500,000 within 1 year. I’m pleased to confirm we achieved this together by the end of 2019.
In January 2020, I began my new role as an Operations Manager and prepared to follow the career path to become urban’s first female Operations Director. March 2020 hit and the pandemic not only paused recruitment but saw a high turnover of staff, leaving both myself and Kevin the only 2 members of the New York team again.
2021 was the year of rebuilding, future-proofing and succession planning for our US team. We hired a number of new graduate trainees including Piotr and Tom as well as an experienced hire and expert within the interior design industry, Naomi. We were highly equipped to make a success of the market and the path to Operations Director became more achievable.
I was required to have a certain amount of direct reports and for my team to achieve $1million within 12 rolling months. We achieved this in June 2021 and I am proudly now the first female Operations Director for urban and VP of Operations for urban USA.
The main skills that have helped me during my career as a recruitment consultant are resilience, determination and persistence to achieve financial targets.
The skills I have gained that I believe have helped me achieve my recent promotion include patience, which has been fundamental when training our graduate recruitment consultants. I take the time to understand each team member’s learning style and make sure I am an approachable and supportive manager to everybody.
In 2019, STR Group also enrolled me in a 2-year CMI Chartered Management course, which allowed me to gain a huge amount of knowledge and skills to complement my role as an Operations Manager. The course also prepared me for understanding more about the day-to-day running of our business including finance, project management, internal recruitment, personal development and information-based decision-making. This helped me develop and mature in my management role and prepared me for my next step up to Operations Director.
I believe the STR Group is already taking positive action through the EDI Board and supporting women into management roles such as myself. The organisation has also hired Helen Harvey, an exceptional mentor and consultant, to work with all current and future leaders within the business and create individual personal development plans. Helen has been extremely helpful in assisting me in my own development as a woman in leadership.
Are you motivated or inspired by Charlotte’s story? Come and work for a company that values equally what everyone brings to the table, encourages ambition and will support you all the way! Contact our Talent team today to find out more about the opportunities available.