The Source General Manager Tony Megally speaks with Hugo Britt about how to get yourself noticed by a top recruitment firm.
As with most 21st-century offices, we have an open-plan layout here at The Faculty. The team is spread across the first floor of a sun-filled, goldrush-era building in the heart of Melbourne. We have minimal partitions and senior management sits right in amongst their teams. One notable exception to this layout, however, is The Faculty’s sister organisation – The Source.
The Source is a boutique recruitment firm specialising in procurement and, due to the intriguingly confidential nature of their work, sits in a corner of the building separated from the rest of us by a glass partition. The small team beyond the wall always look incredibly busy, and when they do emerge, it’s usually with a phone glued to the ear, carrying out intense-sounding conversations in hushed tones as they pass my desk.
What goes on behind that mysterious portal? What are the particular challenges involved with recruiting for procurement? I interviewed three members of The Source team to find out, beginning with its new General Manager, Tony Megally.
So, Tony, tell me about yourself. How long have you been in recruitment?
My career in recruitment kicked off in 1999, and let me tell you, things were very different back then. We didn’t have smartphones, barely had email, no voicemail to reach people, and you were very lucky if you had any kind of database to work with. I remember the majority of my time being spent faxing resumes through to clients.
I’m going to assume you’re joking. Recruitment back then was nowhere near as proactive or strategic as it is nowadays – it was highly reactive and transactional. I initially worked in a volume market with the focus on recruiting for short-term, temporary assignments. I’d get a call from a client on a Friday night, for example, asking for 10 temps by the following Monday. Not easy.
What exactly has changed in recruitment over the past 15 years?
Recruitment has become a more sophisticated industry. It’s no longer so transactional and is now highly relationship-focused. We support clients to build their businesses through great talent and increasingly act as guides to candidates throughout their entire careers. That’s the beauty of recruitment – you get to follow people’s careers and watch them grow. I placed graduates back in 1999 that have now become senior and executive leaders, and in the best cases they’ve become clients themselves.
What about changes in the procurement space?
Just like recruitment itself, the procurement profession has moved away from its traditionally transactional function and is increasingly commercial-focused and strategically positioned. Things are evolving fast – the challenge for us at The Source is to keep ahead of the ever-changing expectations that organisations have in regard to the role of their procurement functions.
What levels of seniority do you recruit for at The Source?
We recruit from CPO down to the specialist level, but personally I look after the senior to executive space. This involves a broad salary range: about $150k to $350k (AUD). Clients work with us typically when it’s a hard-to-fill role, or when there’s a confidential restructuring going on and they can’t advertise. We’re in the mix – we’re searching for and networking with procurement talent all the time. Basically, clients want to partner with us to gain access to our talent pool.
How can candidates get the best out of their relationship with a recruiter?
It’s important for both sides to be as transparent and upfront about their expectations. We’ll share all the details about the client’s brief to help you secure the perfect role, but we need candidates to share as much as possible to help us promote them. It’s good to be aware that recruitment takes time. While an analyst-level could be placed within one to two months, executive placements can take six to twelve months.
Do you work mainly with advertised roles, or “headhunting” top talent?
Most of our time is dedicated to nurturing what we call “passive talent”. That means we get in touch with professionals who may not necessarily be active in the job search but are open to considering opportunities in the near future. It’s all about developing and maintaining relationships – we take a very long term view.
What makes a stand-out candidate in your view?
I look for evidence of commercial acumen, strategic agility, a relationship focus and of course a strong people focus. These soft skills make people stand out. Candidates need to be good networkers (through organisations such as The Faculty) and be able to demonstrate strong business partnering both internally and externally.
Stability is important, for example in Category Management you’ll need to prove you’ve been through an end-to-end strategic procurement lifecycle or in the case of Senior Leaders, you’ll talk to your strengths in change management and business transformation. Both of which usually take about two to three years.
So two to three years is the minimum period you should stay in an organisation?
In my view, yes. But the flipside of that is when we see someone who has sat in a role for ten years and hasn’t progressed their career, that doesn’t usually suggest drive and ambition.
Got any tips for preparing a CV and attending an interview?
The best CVs are kept simple and list stand-out quantifiable achievements. Keep track of the things you’ve accomplished.
You can never do enough research before an interview. Read everything on the company website, search for key individuals on LinkedIn, review company financial statements (easy to access for publicly listed organisations), reach out to networks. There’s no excuse for not being prepared for the “what do you know about us” question. Interview preparedness is an indication of how organised you will be on the job.
Thanks Tony. It sounds like you’re a key person to know in the Australian procurement profession.
I’d encourage anyone who’s interested in a confidential career discussion to get in touch with The Source, whether you’re actively seeking a new role or would just like to start the conversation about your career future.
The Source is a boutique mid to senior and executive recruitment and search consultancy with national reach specialising in the procurement market. For more details, visit The Source.