We are an IT and resourcing partner for the biggest multinationals in the world. We can’t do that without excellent staff; we can’t hire excellent staff without excellent recruiters.
Melanie Kensley is Head of RoW recruitment at NSC, based in South Africa. Having joined us in 2013 as a Talent Acquisition Specialist, she was promoted to her current role just over a year ago in 2017. So what does a senior recruitment role at an international company entail?
Can you briefly describe your role?
I oversee a multinational Recruitment Team and their operational recruitment activities across Europe, Asia and South Africa (known as Rest of World – RoW – at NSC). That’s 13 people in total.
What does a typical day entail for you?
There is no typical day in my world: The key is always to be willing to embrace challenges and be flexible (to deal with whatever comes my way).
If I had to quantify my typical day it would involve: ensuring all recruitment issues and tasks are attended to timeously; supporting recruiters with concerns or queries that will delay their efficiency; liaising with the Head of Global Recruitment to ensure we address all major obstacles presented to the team; supporting the recruiters with sourcing CVs; distributing incoming requirements, based on the Recruiters’ capacity; and last but not least, I try to ensure that I have a few requirements that I am responsible for, as I still enjoy getting my hands dirty with hands-on recruitment.
How did you find your career working in recruitment? And what brought you to NSC?
I fell into recruitment after being retrenched from a Client Service role at an e-commerce Media company early in the 2000s. My then boss recognised my ability to effectively liaise with people and my broad understanding of IT and referred me for a vacancy as an Account Manager at one of SA’s biggest IT labour brokers at that time. I spent the next three years being mentored by the Cape Town-based Director and looking after a team of IT professionals based at various client sites and growing my portfolio of contractors by filling the vacancies that crossed my desk. In the years to follow, I worked at various Recruitment Agencies in South Africa and the Middle East (I lived in Kuwait for a few years) and fulfilled various roles within the recruitment sector such as IT Recruiter, Recruitment Team Leader, Recruitment Manager.
I believe it is this combination of local and international experience across various roles that led me to NSC. I joined NSC in 2013 as one of the first recruiters at our then new CPT operations. After little more than one year, the ZA team grew and I assumed the role of Team Leader, supporting the global NSC business and projects as needed. I was fortunate enough to have this role formalised as the business and my responsibilities grew across APAC and Europe and am now Head of RoW Recruitment (thank you Michael!).
What skills are useful to be successful in this role?
Multitasking, organisation, flexibility, focus, tenacity, intuition, effective communication and confidence.
You are not the only NSC recruiter with a background in psychology - what is it about the subject that is useful for the role, or is it a coincidence?
I think that understanding the psychology of people is vital in what we do as we deal with people who are candidates and our internal customers. While it may not be a pre-requisite, in my opinion it undeniably enhances your ability to be empathetic about the pressures that the people we deal with, on both sides of the recruitment spectre, are faced with, and allows us to be more empathetic when dealing with the key players.
How do you assess an applicant? What do you look for in candidates for roles at NSC?
The skills mentioned in the question two above are key to success at NSC and it is almost always good for candidates to demonstrate scenarios that evidence these capabilities and skills.
As a recruiter, you need to understand the requirement, before you can try to assess the suitability of the candidate. Any additional competencies that are identified as preferred are then assessed. In essence, it is therefore important to realise that you cannot look for the same skills and competencies: this will vary per role.
What changes have you seen in the IT industry since you started your career?
For me, the most important changes in the industry (not specific to IT), that I have witnessed, is the move to remote working opportunities, the economic growth in countries that were previously struggling and specifically in the IT industry (and IT as an enabler) the market place is more competitive and the world has become a whole lot smaller.
How is technology affecting your role as a recruiter?
When I started at NSC, we scheduled our interviews via Outlook. We have subsequently enhanced our systems and are now able to schedule interviews directly from our ATS (Applicant Tracking System). The team that I work with are located in five countries across eight different locations and we are able to join one meeting to share our knowledge and experience regularly, so as to ensure that individuals feel less isolated and ultimately supported as if they were working in the same office. By the same token, this sentiment is carried forward to the candidates that we engage with.
Technology has allowed candidates to be accessible (across various online platforms) and video-technology allows remote candidates to have the face to face experience. Technology is undeniably a positive enabler in my world.
How has your role changed with promotion to be a global lead?
I have become slightly more involved in projects from their inception and am able to play more of a strategic role when needed. My main area of responsibility remains on the operational and coordinating side which allows me to balance my project and people management recruitment skills while continuing to resource and recruit as needed.
View of Table Mountain taken by Engela Mathee on her way to work at NSC
What do you enjoy most about your job?
Knowing that I work with a team of equally committed and responsible individuals with an impeccable work ethic, who share the need and drive to succeed (as a team), regardless of the challenges that we face and I work for an amazing boss who is always ready to provide recruitment support, advice and mentorship as needed.
What are the biggest challenges/stresses?
An increasingly competitive market and the fact that we work with people, so while we can do everything in our power to ensure that the right candidate is targeted for the right role, we do not have the final say and have sometimes been left having to scramble for new candidates at short notice.
What advice do you wish you’d received before starting your career?
I think I’d prefer to give advice to those young school leavers who do not know what they ‘want to be’ – start somewhere, study something. You will find your place in this world if you persevere, take calculated risks and work hard.
But above all, believe in yourself and your worth and who knows… maybe you too can work with a great team like NSC one day.
Getting a job with NSC isn't the only way to start a career in IT. However, it is a good way: learn while you earn, work with multinational clients, work alongside senior IT engineers and work in a growing company with many international opportunities. Take a look at our open positions on our jobs page.