For all the career advice out there on ways to quickly amplify your leadership profile, Amy Sparling is of the opinion that becoming a good leader isn’t something that happens overnight.
“Being a good people leader is not something that comes through formalized training,” Sparling, herself a leader and Senior Talent Acquisition Manager at West Monroe Partners, said. “It's something that takes time and experience.”
In her past seven years at West Monroe, she’s had ample opportunity to absorb lessons on leadership and more from her own manager, someone she calls a “role model and personal mentor.”
“I would not be where I am today without the support of my manager,” she said. “I’ve been given countless stretch opportunities, which are the best way to learn and grow.”
One such stretch opportunity? Having the chance to build a “highly motivated” team of recruiters from the ground up. Recently, Sparling shared with us how she approached creating and leading a team, as well as her No. 1 piece of advice to job seekers.
Tell us a bit about your job. What are your priorities at work?
I lead our Experienced Recruiting team within West Monroe’s Central Region offices, which includes our Minneapolis and Dallas offices and our corporate headquarters in Chicago. This is a team of 13 recruiters, recruiting managers and coordinators. In my role, I am responsible for ensuring the team is meeting our annual hiring goals, as well as consistently improving our process, our candidate experience and our level of client service.
What has your overall career path looked like?
Prior to West Monroe, where I have been for the past seven years, I was a technical recruiter and account manager for Apex Systems, a national IT staffing firm. I fell into recruiting after graduating from Michigan State with a degree in Human Biology and Nutrition. I love the people aspect of my job and find it extremely rewarding to guide individuals in their career journey.
While at this company, you’ve built a team that you’re now leading. How did you approach this?
I’ve seen tremendous growth while at West Monroe. Over the past seven years, the firm has grown from 250 to nearly 1,400 employees and our recruiting team has gone from three to over 30 team members. Our people are the firm’s biggest asset, so hiring recruiters that share a passion for hiring the best and brightest is crucial. Our team is diverse, but they each share a few key traits: they’re highly motivated, they thrive in a fast-paced environment and they’re focused on superior client service.
What do you believe is the No. 1 thing managers must do when onboarding new employees?
I think it’s crucial as a leader to build trust early on, thus creating a safe space for a new team member to ask questions. Give plenty of opportunities to shadow other team members and then empower them to fly solo.
How did your own manager support you during this process?
I would not be where I am today without the support of my manager. I’ve been extremely lucky to have a manager who is also a role model and personal mentor to me. I’ve been given countless stretch opportunities, which are the best way to learn and grow.
How did your company provide additional support?
West Monroe has a wonderful approach to career equity — teaching the importance of capitalizing on your strengths while supporting growth in areas of opportunity. I’ve been empowered to seek out numerous training opportunities both internally and externally through career milestone courses and elective trainings. I’ve been supported in my journey to establish my executive presence and grow my leadership skills and have been encouraged to build out a network of mentors both inside and outside the firm.
While building this team, what did you learn that surprised you most?
Being a good people leader is not something that comes only through formalized training; it's something that takes time and experience. I’ve learned a tremendous amount from those I mentor, who continue to make me into a better leader every day.
What do you love most about your job?
Definitely the people! I’m so proud of the recruiting team we’ve built and am proud of the amazing talent we bring into the organization every day.
What’s your No. 1 tip for job seekers?
Truly take the time to determine your key criteria in a job and an organization and don’t lose sight of these things. Do your research and ask tough questions!
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