Every week we will feature the adventures of one amazing woman. We aim to celebrate the varied and colourful roleswomen pl...
If I’m honest, the biggest career obstacle for me has been me. My lack of planning has meant that at times I have simplyal...
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Catherine Schlieben Head of Recruitment and Talent ITV


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I never intended to have a career in recruitment. When I left university at the height of the recession in the early 1990’s it became apparent that I was not going to be able to walk into a job in the City, as had been my dream, or onto a graduate programme in another industry.

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Catherine Schlieben Head of Recruitment and Talent ITV

  1. 1. Every week we will feature the adventures of one amazing woman. We aim to celebrate the varied and colourful roleswomen play within industry and business. Experience inspirational, real stories by real women; Interested in beingfeatured? Please send your adventures to info@zarsmedia.com For previous adventures please click hereI never intended to have a career in recruitment. When I left university at the height of the recession in the early 1990’sit became apparent that I was not going to be able to walk into a job in the City, as had been my dream, or onto agraduate programme in another industry. So, I found myself working in the local hotel for some money to go travelling.I found then that I appeared to have a talent for managing people and process so was promoted quickly. The hours weretorture though! I loved the industry and realised that there were other options open to me, such as training, research andeventually recruitment in the sector. I stayed in the recruitment consultancy business for over 10 years when the callcame about my current role. I openly admit to loving television, so the opportunity to work for the UK’s largestcommercial broadcaster was one I could not pass up. Ironically as a child I was never allowed to watch ITV! Theopportunity was to set up their first in-house recruitment function; I could build and shape the process and team.My role has gone through different phases here at ITV. Initially I was shaping and scoping the function, what ouroffering was going to be, what technology we were going to use and how we were going to communicate to ourcandidate market. This involved building a new website, learning all about social media and developing a robuststrategy, building the team and most importantly establishing relationships across the entire business. Once we had ourprocess and team, my role was to manage and lead the team, help take the business through a period of change and heavyreliance on recruitment agencies to trusting and using us. I have now grown the team to around 16 people that cover allour permanent hires as well as our freelance talent for Productions across the UK. I now spend my time leading theteam, building relationships with senior stakeholders and working on our strategy for the years to come; how we cancontinually build the brand and access those hard to find candidates, how we can improve each element of our processand how we can help build those vital talent pipelines across the business.I have a young-ish family and work long hours, which can be very hard. My daily routine involves catching a trainrelatively early and arriving in the office at around 8am. I will have a coffee, some breakfast, check emails, and sayhello to everyone as they arrive and then crack on with the day – often filled with meetings. I try and work from homewhen I can but this is not easy when you manage a large team. Some of my team are located in Manchester and Leeds soI do try and do a trip up north once a month to see them. No two days are ever the same, however. We have given allour colleagues much more flexibility around working practices so with MacBook Air in hand we can move from floor tofloor, building to building and work wherever is most appropriate for what we are doing. I am writing this on the 5.12from Waterloo - a lot earlier than usual so I can take my son to athletics practice for example.When I look back on my career I would say that the common theme is the dedication and drive I have put into each role.None of the moves have been particularly planned so perhaps my career would have turned out differently if they hadbeen. One regret would be that I didn’t work hard enough at my A levels so didn’t get to the university I wanted to. Buthas it meant that I have not been successful in my career? I don’t believe so. I made one expensive mistake just beforethe current recession hit, but I learnt such a lot from the experience and I think that the actions I had to take to get backon my feet have made me more resilient and more creative and commercially savvy.I certainly never had any clear ambitions or vocations when I was young. The more I am exposed to these talentedindividuals who make and commission the programmes that end up on our screens I wonder if that would have been acareer that would have played to my strengths and I would have enjoyed, but I was naïve when I was young and illinformed so never really explored any career options fully. We are certainly making sure that our children know the fullrange of careers open to them at an early age so they can make informed choices as they move through their educationand be inspired early on in their lives.Catherine Schlieben,Head of Recruitment and Talent, ITV
  2. 2. If I’m honest, the biggest career obstacle for me has been me. My lack of planning has meant that at times I have simplyallowed things to happen to me rather than orchestrate them. More luck than judgement has been a common theme. Nota bad one as it happens when I reflect now, but I could have done better! Self-doubt is another obstacle and I can highlyrecommend the coaching process to help you see your potential and skills and talents.I have had to work really hard on my perception of what success looks like for me. I had an Executive Coach last year,which was the most enlightening experience I think I’ve ever had and when she asked me what my skills and talents are,I couldn’t answer her. By the end of the year, I could list them. They were there all the time but I never felt they werereally good enough and if they were, I was too self-deprecating to voice them. So, in my current role, I know I am asuccess. How do I know? Because people tell me, I rate highly in PDRs; I score well on our Manager index for ourEngagement Survey. But most importantly, I have delivered tangible results for the business, my team is empoweredand highly thought of and we are motivated and happy most of the time.There is no magic formula for success except hard work of course; and doing the right things and not being a busy fool. Ilisten to my team and to the business and what they want and need. I deliver it if I can but am realistic if I can’t. I ampassionate and have a strong belief that the strategy I am delivering will work. Someone said to me recently that hethought the reason why I am successful in my role is because I take a problem and wrestle it to the floor to get it sorted.I also make decisions. Sometimes I make them too quickly and get it wrong but at least you learn from that rather thansuffering from a paralysis and achieving nothing.Getting the right balance between home and work life is extremely difficult and something that I feel guilty aboutconstantly. Years ago, my husband made the decision to leave his job in retail in order to provide the childcare for ourtwo children and look after the running of the household. Without his sacrifice I couldn’t do what I do. I sing in a choirand that’s very important to me as I get an immense amount of enjoyment from it and it helps me leave any stresses ofthe job behind. My family come to my concerts and by seeing how much I love it, I have their approval. My otherinterest is cycling. My husband took up road cycling a little while ago and I decided to as well. We can do it togetherand with the children as they get older, but for now, just 2 hours at the weekend is enough for me to clear my head.There is much talked about how women should behave in the workplace to get ahead. I have a problem with the attitudethat we should be more like men. I think there is an opportunity for us to be women with all the different attributes thatbrings and still be successful. I also think that we should think more as individuals. All women are different. There aresome traits that we have of course that make us different from men, but it’s very dangerous to suggest that we should allbehave in a particular way – many of us may not be comfortable with that. We should display the qualities ofdecisiveness, empathy, an ability to listen but also remember to be clear at all times with those decisions.I love the buzz of the company but more than anything it’s the fact that there is a real purpose and a tangible result. Webring talented people in who deliver results. I also enjoy seeing my team grow and develop and nothing is moreinspiring than seeing them motivated and doing the job to the best of their ability.If you’ve decided that recruitment is the field for you then; be really careful where you start. Beginning by working foran agency is fine and gives some key skills that you can take with you in-house or into other roles. However, I stronglybelieve that the best recruitment firms are those that offer new entrants the chance to start in non-fee earning roles asresearchers or in a pure resourcing role. It teaches those much-needed skills to hunt out new talent, not be afraid ofpicking up the telephone and a sense of curiosity. You do need to understand what it is that motivates you. If its money,that’s fine, but have some ethics too, they will get you further.Have a clear plan and strategy. Don’t be afraid to speak up, put your view forward and as is the same with everyone,show your worth through the delivery of tangible results. Listen, learn and don’t be too fixated on the desire to have it alland progress. Be excellent at the job you are currently doing and you will get noticed as well as be thinking about whereyou want to get to.At ITV I hope that I will leave a legacy of a quality recruitment process that delivers the best talent, people who canwork effectively with the business and a selection of tools and practices that enable us to continue to attract high qualitytalent. If we’re talking about a legacy in a wider context, I hope that my children will see how hard work; commitmentand loyalty will go far. Their Mother may not be written about, famous or massively well off, but they’ll have inherited astrong set of values and know that they were loved and matter more than any job or career.Thank you for taking the time to read my career adventures and to end it one of my favourite quotes; it’s my Mother’squote, who died 10 years ago and it’s Socrates – “an unexamined life is a life not worth living”. I may not have quoted itexactly and it may not be regarded as particularly motivational, but I believe that one of my strengths is the ability toreflect, then make or change a decision and move forward.Catherine SchliebenHead of Recruitment and TalentITV