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EP 9: Laura Holcombe, Talent Acquisition Manager - Streetbees

Podcast Transcript

James Mackey  0:00  

Hi, everyone. Welcome to episode nine of Talent Acquisition Trends and Strategy. Today we're joined by Laura Holcombe.  Laura, welcome!


Laura Holcombe  0:18  

Hi. Nice to see. Thank you so much.


James Mackey  0:22  

Thanks for being here. I'm really excited to speak with you today. And before we jump into it, would you mind telling everybody a little bit about your background and what you're working on now?


Laura Holcombe  0:31  

Absolutely. I started off as a recruiter in 2019. I was working for a small agency in a town that I lived in called Norwich, probably you haven't heard of it, but it is a lovely place. So, I cut my teeth in recruitment during the pandemic. And then I've been very, very lucky to move into in-house talent acquisition roles, starting off as an IC. 


Now I've just joined a company called Streetbees where I'm heading up the entire talent acquisition function. So a bit of a step up for me, but I'm very much enjoying it. It's exactly the type of role that I really wanted to get my teeth into. So, delighted to be here, and can't wait to chat about all things, talent.


James Mackey  1:18  

Sure. And Laura just wanted to let you know that I'm really impressed with your progression and how quickly you've moved up. Becoming a leader in growth stage tech, it's not easy. And you've done it very fast, despite, I would assume probably several obstacles, really getting your foundation started in the middle of the pandemic, must have been very challenging.                                                                            So just kudos to you just shout out real quick for how much you've accomplished in a relatively short period of time. It's just really impressive. And I just don't see that type of growth very often.


Laura Holcombe  1:48  

Thank you. Yeah, I appreciate that. I mean, I'm gonna be honest, I've been very aggressive in trying to move my career forward. But I think it comes from this place of passion, like, this is absolutely my calling in life. And, yeah, all I want to do is just try and progress and add value where I can. And I've been very lucky with the opportunities that I've been given. So thank you for saying that. Really appreciate it.


James Mackey  2:11  

Well, I think one of the things that sets you aside is one of the topics I wanted to discuss with you. Is about focusing on not only just candidate experience but really making sure the human element of town acquisition is front and center for recruiters. 


I know that's a topic that's really important to you, would you mind just telling us a little bit about that, and how you don't really just like from a strategic, big picture perspective, but how you go about implementing that on a day-to-day basis?


Laura Holcombe  2:38  

Yes, I think at the end of the day recruitment is humans helping humans, right?  It's a wonderful thing. I think it is such a fun job. And, I think that sometimes people can forget about the fact that we're all just trying to try and kind of help each other. 


I mean, the reason I think it's so important is really, because of the feedback I've had, throughout my time, as a recruiter, I've always approached people in a way that I would want to be approached, I've always been very chill, and just ultimately trying to have a chat. 


When I first started in recruitment, I didn't really have any formal training, I was just thrown into the deep end. And so I just thought, Well, how would I prefer to be contacted? How would I want it done? And then I've had a lot of success with this method. And I think that's one of the reasons I have progressed quickly, because I do things, quote-unquote, differently. But I think it is the way that it should always be done. 


We're dealing with people's careers, it's a really, really important part of people's lives, and you can't take that for granted. And you can't in any way treat people in a way that making the hire is more important than their career and their livelihood. So I think that coming from that angle has really helped me.  I've built really strong connections off the back of it. And like I said, I think that has been one of the things that have driven my career. And the thing is, that's what makes recruitment joyful.


I think meeting other people, building strong connections. And really, if you get to know someone on a personal level, you will be better at your job, because you will know what environments they will suit, you will know what kind of roles are going to, you know, be appealing to them. And then you're better able to place people, you know, in an environment where they're going to thrive. 


And I think again, that's probably one of my biggest skills, in recruitment, so, not sure if that answered your question entirely. But, it's always how I've done it. I've imagined that it probably isn't in line with most Traditional Recruitment Training like I could not be more grateful for the fact that I never had that traditional training.


James Mackey  5:08  

I think so in the early days when I started off in recruiting, I actually started off on the agency side as well.  I think you can be a great recruiter coming from several different backgrounds, whether in-house or agency side.


I do think one of the advantages of coming from the agency side is that it does create this sales-bent attitude when it comes to metrics and holding yourself accountable and driving results in the short term. And really just push, push, push, push, push, which I think is good. But I think a lot of the time what's lost in those environments is the human element. And most of the training that I received, starting out, was more so on negotiating salaries. Totally honest, negotiating salaries down. 


Laura Holcombe  5:52  

Honestly, the same. It was not so much training, but just like, being pushed to do that. Or, you know, that being the main concern bums on seats,  like, getting people in quickly, you know, it was also money motivated. And don't get me wrong, I was money motivated, I wanted to make my commission, but I care much more about the people. And that's why I transitioned in-house, to be honest with you. 


Because, I think that if I had worked for an agency, where really the focus was the people, and you're seeing so much more of that nowadays, especially with the RPO companies that are popping up a lot as well, I probably would have stayed in the agency a lot longer. But I didn't have that experience. And so I wanted to focus on the people and focus on impacting people's lives positively on helping businesses grow, especially, during such a difficult time, during the pandemic.


That was my focus. I didn't really care about the money. I just wanted to make a decent living doing what I loved, basically.


James Mackey  7:03  

Sure, I mean, obviously, like, money is an important motivator.  But when you get to a certain point of stability in your life, where the essentials are taken care of, we have the luxury of starting to think about, "okay, but what now, right? Like, what does my career mean? What's the impact I'm making? And, what types of relationships are we going to build? 


I think, for a lot of people, the pandemic really was a course correction on values. People started to really slow down and think about, "Okay,  what about the relationships I'm building? And, even coming out of the pandemic, I mean, just with the understanding of " okay, obviously, I want to make more money and that so to some extent, can operate as a yardstick for my progress, but people are not looking at that as like the sole indicator of success anymore. It's no longer like I'm successful if I make this much money. This is my title. Right? And this is like, the brand name that I worked for whatever, right? I'm not saying that they don't matter at all, I think there are some people that might argue. 


On the other hand, I still think , believe it's okay to want those things. But also, I believe people are looking at success as being something a lot more holistic, and, and deeper. And when it comes to our health, and our relationships and our impact, those seem to be for a lot of candidates that we're speaking with, those seem to matter a lot more. 


They're still looking at salary, obviously. I mean, assuming they're making a fair amount of money already. Obviously, if somebody's making 30 grand, and they have an opportunity to make 100 grand, they're probably going to say, " I'll do it regardless of if it aligns with some of my other values. But if somebody's making, let's say 70 grand, and they have the opportunity to make 80,85K, right, they might say, "well, you know, what? I'll leave the money, this is where I feel like I can make the best impact in the strongest relationships and have the best experience. And that's what I'm going to do.


Laura Holcombe  9:04  

Yeah. And then, if you really hit it lucky, you'll find all of that in one place. And I think that in order to be the most successful that you can be,  you're an individual or a company, putting your people at the heart of everything and treating people incredibly well. And, being human, and everything you do is actually really going to help you probably be more successful. 


And nowadays, when you think about the rise of the personal brand on LinkedIn, I mean, I just can't get away from it. It's a good thing. I love that people have been educated on the power of building a really authentic personal brand, and how that can drive success for yourself. I mean, for your organization as well. I don't want to go off on a tangent around personal branding, but the unbelievable power of like people in your team. If you recruit for a business, posting about their positive experiences on LinkedIn and creating a buzz like that it's unbelievable.


So if you do, humanize everything you do, from a personal perspective, you know, if a company does that as well, okay, you got I'm not gonna say you're not gonna fail. But you know, you're setting yourself up for success. And I think that one company that does that incredibly well is my old company Reachdesk, which attracts incredible people because they are an incredible company to work for, and has a great culture. And that's enabling them to grow incredibly quickly because they are putting people at the heart of everything they do.


James Mackey  10:30  

Yes, for sure and I agree with you on the LinkedIn side, because we post a lot of content on LinkedIn. And we've made several hires this year, from the relationships that we've built on LinkedIn. And it has been one of the many drivers that we have to attract recruiters to come to our team. And, it's been pretty, pretty helpful for us. And also, for just awareness, client acquisition across the board, it just seems to be really, really good in multiple ways. So we're definitely in alignment, they're definitely in alignment when it comes to putting people first and creating great experiences. 


Just to kind of circle back to say one more thing in regards to the training that recruiters are receiving, I think that when they're starting out, there definitely should be a bigger emphasis on that human element. Because it's not just about it being a core value of maybe people similar to us. But the reality is that it does drive better hiring outcomes.

Laura Holcombe  11:31  

Oh, my God, yeah. I mean, if you don't spend more than 50% of your initial screen call with a candidate, like I don't like to say selling the company or like, but really working through the elements of the company in the role that align well with that person you're speaking to, and really making it a personalized human experience for them. You are shooting yourself in the foot. 


That kind of excitement that you can build in that first call, it's just so important. And I think that gone are the days where you get on a recruiter call, and they're just,  buffeting questions at you, and just treating you like another number because it's just not gonna work. People are too wise to do it now.


James Mackey  12:20  

And I think he probably in the early days, I remember, sometimes I would even catch myself. To be completely honest, if I was back to back eight calls in a row. Probably were, some of the times I started to sound a little robotic, and then I kind of had to do a pulse check of like, "Okay, let's get back on track here, we need to be more engaged. Basically talking to myself saying, Okay, you kind of slow down a little bit, don't talk quite so fast, really slow down, learn, pay attention and add reengage on those human elements. 


Because I think partially, some of the reason that happens is that a lot of recruiters are working quite honestly, well above the capacity that they should be. Right? Short-staffed, they don't have enough resources, right? 


A lot of companies, particularly in tech, really see recruiting as a transactional motion and don't want to make the investment that they really have to, to get the best possible results. And so usually have a very small team of recruiters that are on the verge of essential burnout. And so I think that's one of those elements to creating great human experiences starts with creating them for your employees.


Laura Holcombe  13:25  

Yeah, absolutely. I could talk till the cows come home, about the structure that what I consider to be the proper structure of a talent team, because, I think that if you're not giving your people the time to be able to build these connections, which are ultimately going to lead to your talent department being very, very effective, then, you know..


This is one thing that I'm trying to do in my new role at Streetbees, it's about making sure that before we're running away, trying to hire people and run processes, that we're actually doing things right from the get-go. And, treating people really well from the get-go and making sure people have enough time. 


I mean, in an ideal world, I think that talent departments should be divided into three sections, you have a nurturing team, you have an attraction team, and an acquisition team. And two of those teams, they are entire in my ideal talent acquisition department, if I was running that department, and had all of these resources, I would have two teams dedicated to building relationships, to nurturing, to saying like, look, you know, I want to have a conversation with you purely in order to make this connection. And there may be a role that will come up, and I'm sure that a lot bigger companies do it like that. I'm not saying that I've reinvented the wheel. 


But I think that smaller companies should try and invest in a setup similar to that if they can because it's an investment for the future. If you're a company that wants to scale and you want to be 1000 heads or more, if you do that, from day one, if you have talented talent at the leadership table, and if you have a department that's built in order to foster real human connection from day one, as soon as you need your 1000 people, it should be just so easy.  You've built so many connections, and you can bring people in, in a very quick and effective way into roles that are gonna really, really excite people. 


And going even further than that, you might even be able to start building out roles based on these incredible people, you've had conversations with knowing their skill sets. It's ultimately a sales job, isn't it recruitment? In the sense, if you're not hiring, I call it hiring like a BDR. You know, if you're not nurturing, and you're not, keeping these relationships going, even if nothing has happened right now, you're shooting yourself in the foot? 


James Mackey  15:58  

I agree with you. And what we're thinking about right now, is basically having a separate position. At SecureVision, we don't know exactly what it's gonna be called yet. It could be recruiting ops manager, it could be a recruitment marketing manager, we're not really sure. Because it's kind of a combination of several things. And so we're still trying to define it. 


But basically, what I want to do is figure out what are the top 10 positions that SecureVision fills for our clients, company-wide, product roles, engineering, sales, and marketing. Whatever the top roles are, and to proactively develop those candidate pools, to basically produce tailored, relevant, valuable content for them on an ongoing basis.


Laura Holcombe  16:41  

Yeah, absolutely. Brilliant. I mean, that is the kind of thing that I think if every company has the budget to do something like that, they should. Think of it like, you know, in businesses who are selling, especially in tech, selling a product, they will be churning out so much content that is aligned to the verticals of the people that they're trying to reach. Why would you not do that for talent? Why would you not apply the same techniques for adding value? And, you know, you probably want your content to be more focused on the company and the kind of value you can add to someone's life. 


But it's the same thing.  And it just blows my mind. I mean, don't get me wrong, I get it budgets, you know, we would all love to have someone dedicated to building talent pools for us purely like that, you know, budgets often prevent it. But if you can recruit leaders out there, if you do have the ability to do that, and your team, do it. It's only going to serve you well. And it's only the reputation of your business that will just shoot through the roof if you are providing value without expecting anything back apart from maybe having a conversation if a role comes up.


James Mackey  17:55  

And one of the other things that we're thinking about doing too, is in addition to Okay, so like this curated content that I was talking about developing for all the top positions. I mean, it's not even content in relation to what SecureVisione can offer, what our clients can offer,  but really just focused on okay, what do engineers care about? Like, what questions do they have? Like, what do they like talking about, you know, what kind of content do they consume? 


I mean, we could throw like a curated event, for instance, a virtual or in person, probably virtual, I would assume, because everybody's remote, but, having these little curated events where there might be like a panel of speakers, from  VPs, of engineering of growth, stage tech companies talking about something that, engineers care about, or the same thing with sales leaders. And just obviously, the whole of it would be hosted by SecureVision. 


And just thinking, how valuable and cool would that be? And how interesting of a differentiator would that be, for us to do something like that? But again, it really is a full-time job. 


Laura Holcombe  18:58  

Yes, and I think there's a possibility of even kind of taking it one step further. And, not selling that as a service. But if you can collect real data points around what genuinely interests and motivates people in different fields,  I think that if you can understand people in those fields and know what they're looking for, when it comes to a new role or a new company, and you want to attract the top minds in that field, you know, you want to be thinking about that kind of thing. 


So that sounds like an absolutely incredible kind of role that you're thinking about. And I think you know, it's guaranteed to set you apart from other businesses who aren't putting the time into doing that and really understanding the industries that are recruiting in and the people who are in those industries.


James Mackey  19:52  

Sure, well, I think,  just because you mentioned doing something similar, I think more people are starting to think about this. Hopefully, I think we're gonna start to see. I mean, it's never going to be widely adopted, I don't think it'd be, I think it's going to be like, the 90th percentile organizations are going to do this.


Like the companies that are committed to doing talent acquisition, you know, the best way, they're gonna adapt to this, but everybody else, I still think it's going to be kind of a struggle, and we're not, you know, probably gonna get a bite, you're gonna see it a little bit more than we're seeing it now. But I still think that for whatever reason, there are just a lot of organizations out there that see recruiting as kind of this transactional light switch, right? 


They can just flip on and off as they want and they're not necessarily playing the long game, right? They're thinking of hiring serves, or they're thinking in terms of one quarter from now, or, you know, they're just not being as strategic as they probably should be. You know, from our opinion, right, in terms of the acquisition department.


Laura Holcombe  20:50  

I don't understand why people don't. Can you imagine if you had a revenue target, and you just deployed your sales team for a quarter, and then hit the revenue target and stopped? And that was just it, because, oh, we've hit that now. We'll stop. 


No, it's an ongoing strategic initiative and your business talent acquisition, the people in your business are the ones that do the thing to make you grow. So why would you not be constantly investing in ways to identify, and attract? And actually, going further, bringing and retaining the best minds? It always blows my mind when you see tech companies, specifically, when the sales teams, or like the revenue-generating org, are the Messiah, they are the most important thing. 


When you forget that talent brought all those people most of the time and talent is the ones that bring in these amazing people who do amazing things. So, I hope that more companies do kind of come around and focus on this as early as possible in their growth journey, and continue to do so for the long term because it'll only help them scale.


James Mackey  22:12  

I agree. And there are two other actually two topics that I wanted to dive into with you today. So I want to make sure we have time for that. One thing that I found very interesting about your background is that you became a recruiter, at least from what I could tell on LinkedIn, shortly before the pandemic started. 


Getting into town acquisition, it's hard work your first year or two into I mean, it's always hard, but particularly your first year or two in talent acquisition is usually pretty hard. Working on the agency side is pretty hard as well, right? Being an agency can be pretty hard. So the fact that you were an agency recruiter, for the first time, in the middle of a pandemic, must have been, I would assume, a pretty challenging, pretty challenging time. 


I'm curious to learn how that could have possibly shaped your foundation or your perspective on things and what you learned from that, and, again, how it kind of shaped your foundation and how it impacts the work that you do today.


Laura Holcombe  23:16  

I've pretty much never known recruiting outside of the pandemic. When I first started, I think it was about three months. And the thing is the first three months, I worked for a really small agency, and we didn't have a LinkedIn recruiter.  And in my first three months of being a recruiter, before, in the good old days before LinkedIn, capped the number of connection requests you could send, was me sending connection requests after connection requests after connection requests, and just saying to people, are you open to new opportunities? And that was my entire recruitment process? So yeah, I mean, it was weird. I think I've never known any different. 


So it's difficult for me to say how different I am as a recruiter now, compared to if I had started pre-pandemic. What I think I was exposed to a lot of was, first of all, a lot of redundancies, that were rife in my first year of recruitment. So I spoke to a lot of people who, you know, had had their world completely upended. And actually, you know, they were feeling really negatively about their careers and really kind of struggling and I think that definitely made me realize probably much sooner than I would have done. Just how impactful you know, a career at someone's job is on their life.  That sounds really stupid, but you know, genuinely,


James Mackey  24:40  

It makes a lot of sense, I think, you answered this question in the first topic we discussed today. So maybe that's it. Maybe what you learned is the fact that to be truly impactful in what you do is to recognize the influence and how much of what you do really matters to the people that you engage with. And to always keep that human element, that people element front and center, and every conversation that you're having. 


And maybe that foundation is what has probably propelled you forward to the position that you're in now, right? Because you learned that very early on,


Laura Holcombe  25:23  

I also developed an absolute abhorrence for companies that treat people like, excuse my language crap. I absolutely hate it. And I was exposed to so much of it over the pandemic. We in the UK, we're very lucky, we had a furlough scheme, which was great in terms of keeping people going. But the way people used to treat their team. I mean, I posted a LinkedIn post about it the other day, you know, that was one thing, I was just like, I'm never, ever going to put someone in a position where they're in a company that treats them like rubbish. 


And I'm going to use my position as a recruiter to get people, hopefully out of bad jobs, and integrate new ones, or just educate people as to how they should be treated in a role. Honestly, it's one of the things that, again, I don't necessarily think I would have been as passionate about or aware of, had it not been for the pandemic and for hearing people's stories. That was one thing that definitely affected it. And also actually another thing, I realized just how, how lucky I was to be in the tech industry, to be honest.                


I think the tech industry is just an incredible industry to be in. Quite a few companies and tech companies continued to grow, just of the nature of what they do throughout the pandemic, the opportunities in this industry are incredible. And so another thing that recruiting through the pandemic has kind of taught me is that this industry is incredibly special, and I want to open as many doors as I possibly can through what I do. And I have, you know, very, it's been brilliant. I've managed to help so many people transition into tech. And it's been life-changing. And I think that, again, the pandemic, in some ways, is kind of informed that. 


I feel very lucky to have started recruiting when I did.  I mean, on my LinkedIn, it looks like I'm 21 because I didn't really have any of my jobs before recruitment because I was really in and out of really crap jobs. And I didn't have a great time in my 20s. I like to say they were a dumpster fire. So yeah, I don't I don't think I'd be the recruiter I am today. And this I had started during the pandemic. So you know, everything happens for a reason. 


James Mackey  27:46  

It's a really cool story. I think this one is the last topic that we're gonna have time for today, and I know we're coming up on time here in about six minutes. I wanted to talk to you about listening in, we get a fair amount of executives, people, leaders, CHROs, and business founders, executives.  We also get a fair amount of people that are in staffing, recruiting, or internal recruiters. And I think there's at least a rather large segment of the listeners that maybe are aspiring to get into talent leadership. 


So I was hoping you could share what foundational skill sets you feel recruiters need to develop in order to take that next step into talent, and leadership. What's most important? And maybe also just a little bit about what you're learning, right over the last couple of months, like maybe there are some things where you thought they're important, but they're not having as big of an impact. And you realize that, okay, the job is really about this thing, right? Maybe you weren't anticipating it.


I'm just kind of curious to get your thoughts on what people need to do to get there, and what you need to do to be successful. And in that type of role.


Laura Holcombe  28:53  

In order to get there, there are a couple of things I think really helped me. I've always been a quite self-assured person and always been quite confident in my convictions, and sharing them. And so I think that one way that you can mark yourself out as a potential future leader is by rectifying problems that you see, and also providing really honest feedback to your more senior stakeholders around where you see improvements can be made, even if that's not your role. 


I mean, at Reachdesk a couple of things I did. I redesigned one of our recruitment processes because I noticed it wasn't working. So if you see something that could be improved, don't wait for permission to do it. Just, you know, I say, ask for forgiveness, not permission. Now, it's not always possible. You're not always going to be able to, you know, change processes, always going to be someone whose permission you need in some situations. 


But showing that willingness to get involved in other areas outside of your traditional remit, I think is another thing that kind of marks you out as a potential leader and I genuinely believe that, because of how human I am, I get so much positive, or I've got so much positive feedback from stakeholders and candidates alike, that people then want you to be that representative. Because you are the first impression of the company at the end of the day.


Coming into the role is a never-ending to-do list. First of all, it's so exciting being able to build from the ground up. I think things that I haven't ever had to consider before like costs and, you know, money. And that's all brand new and exciting. I think that one of the things that I guess I'm kind of echoing what I've just said, because one of the things that I really leaned on is my stakeholder management skills, and really being able to build strong relationships very quickly, that's really helped me, not asking for permission. I've just come in, and I've changed a lot within my first month, but it needed to be changed. And just being really real. And being very honest, I think honesty is really important as well. 


So that's quite a few things, I guess,  to boil it down. Be authentic, be willing to get involved in things, and be willing to go outside of your comfort zone, trust me, I've never managed anyone before, this role is a big step up for me, but I dived in. Because that way you grow. 


Anyone's welcome to message me, by the way, about how to take this next step more than willing to kind of coach people through it. But like I said, if I was to boil it down, I'd say, Be human, be authentic, take on things outside of your comfort zone, and always be willing to take on more things. And if you see something broken, fix it.


James Mackey  31:37  

Right. All very valid points. And I echo that because as we're promoting leaders within my organization, as well as we're helping our clients, hire leaders within their organizations, I think everything that you just said is spot on. And there are some other things that I think I could even just share on what I'm seeing for people that want to move up into talent, and leadership roles, and I have a feeling that a lot of these align with who you are as a person and how you operate too. 


But getting back to the first thing, I mean, what you said, people skills, right? Not only in terms of how you engage with candidates on a human level but how you can engage with your team on a human level. In my opinion, one of the traits of a great manager and a great leader is that they know how to operate from a place of high empathy and high standards at the same time. And they can communicate both of those things at the same time. And that can be very difficult to do. 


And so can you be the type of leader where you can have very firm conversations in regards to setting expectations, but ensure that the people that you're doing that with, really, truly feel cared for and that you're going to deliver on your end of the bargain as a leader to help pull them along with the overall objectives that the company needs to reach. 


I think leading with high empathy and high standards at the same time, it's something that everybody who is interested in getting into leadership should be thinking about and studying. And I think if people have the budget for it, they should consider executive coaching because a good executive coach can help them fine-tune those messages in the position of how to broach certain topics in a way that you can communicate high empathy and high, high standards at the same time. 


The other thing that I see is,  to some extent, business acumen, which is kind of like a buzzy term, but, you know, having the ability to see beyond the situation right in front of you, right? Like, okay, the blocking and tackling like these, this is kind of the battle or whatever the situation that's happening right here. But being able to understand the greater implication of the decision right in front of you. If we take this course of action, then, you know, two, three fours that step down the road XYZ is gonna happen.  


And I think it's not like, people say, Oh, some people naturally have it or not, I don't know if I necessarily agree with that. I think just exposure and experience can, people can develop it, maybe I guess some people started a little ahead of others, but just being able to see how, okay, how did decisions impact the individual but also impact the organization at scale? If you can kind of mentally toggle between the two and see how, see the differences and the nuance there and try to find the best of both worlds, which is not always perfect, but you know, that's a really important skill set.


Laura Holcombe  34:31  

Yeah, I'm writing it down because I'm such a newbie. Am I still very much learning every single day is a learning curve. So this is all great advice.


James Mackey  34:41  

Oh, good. I'm glad you like it, I mean, this is just stuff that I talk about with my team. And we're also talking about the safety ratio. If you are working with the executive team, your safety ratio needs to be on point, right? 


Meaning that if an executive says, Okay,  can you get this done? Your follow-up is like, yep, I already added it to This is the date it's going to be done. And the leader can expect that if you said you're going to do it, it's going to get done with the caveat of also having the skill set to say no, if you're at full capacity, understanding capacity is important too. Because if you don't have the capacity, then you have to go to the leader proactively and say, Look, if you want me to do this, now, I'm already at a full plate. So what do you want me to remove from my capacity? And so I can get this done, or I can get started on this in three weeks. 


And I think a lot of people challenge themselves by saying no to executives, or to their leadership team because they want to prove themselves they want to do right, and they want to accomplish what is expected of them. But they don't understand that somebody who can say no to a leader, that's actually one of the most valuable things an executive can have, has a team that's comfortable enough to really speak up. And part of that is the culture that the leaders develop. But I would say it depends on the culture. Right?


Laura Holcombe  35:59  

Yeah. And, the best leaders will have that culture of openness and feedback. I mean, as I said, I've got one direct report at the moment. And I think I'm asking him for feedback every single time I speak to him, and I'm making sure that I'm looking after him because that's ultimately your role as a leader is to empower and set your team up for success. You are, in some ways, irrelevant, right? 


So yes, that is all absolutely stellar advice. And it's definitely something I'm going to be thinking about as I continue in my leadership journey, and just trying to be the best I can be.


I think, another major thing for a leader, correct me if I'm wrong if you disagree, but I think being able to be very open about where they've made mistakes, and they are still learning and where they're not perfect, you know, that is crucial as well, because there's just nothing worse than a leader who thinks they know everything because nobody knows everything. And in fact, hiring your team, you should be hiring people who are better at you, than everything that you aren't very good at. And that's how you build a very, very robust team that's going to help drive significant growth, you know, so, yeah, fab great advice.


James Mackey  37:19  

Yes, to kind of echo what you just said, it's like, getting to the point where you can help your team avoid falling in the holes that you fell on, right? It's like, how do you, you know, through onboarding, learning, and development process playbooks? How can you develop a kind of knowledge infrastructure to help them avoid some of the mistakes, right? 


I see that as one of the core value ads that I can bring to my team, is that I pretty much made every massive mistake you can possibly make, starting off as a recruiter and a recruiting manager and leader, just because we did build the company from the ground up, right, and didn't have those processor experiences previously. So, it helps hopefully, accelerate the learning curve from the team, right? When they can learn from somebody else's mistakes and successes, right? Obviously, you gotta go through the wins, too, and discuss what works. 


Laura Holcombe  38:17  



James Mackey  38:20  

That's exciting stuff. Well, I think this is really valuable. And again, I think a lot of people are going to be able to learn a lot from what you've accomplished and the topics that we've discussed today. And we're actually running over time a little bit. So I think we probably should jump off. But this was a tonne of fun. 


And Laura, I hope we can continue the conversation sometime soon. And please keep us posted on your progress and success. We'd love to hear about it.


Laura Holcombe  38:44  

No, definitely. Maybe I'll have to come back on and do an update once I'm a little bit more seasoned in my leadership role. But thank you so much for having me. Your insights have been incredibly valuable. I wish you every success, podcast, and with the business as a whole. And let's keep in touch.


James Mackey  39:03  

Yes, let's do it. And Laura, just real quick, where can people find you online, if they want to follow your content and see what you're up to?


Laura Holcombe  39:09  

I pretty much only have LinkedIn. I was thinking of making a Twitter account. But yeah, so my LinkedIn, you can find me I mean, if you just type my name in I've got a profile picture with a bright yellow background and me laughing that my friend took in London after he just told me a joke. So yeah, but I mean, it's just


James Mackey  39:35  

Perfect. Well, thank you again, Laura, and to everybody else tuning in. Thanks for joining us, and we'll see you next time. 

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