Leaders’ Insights: Linda Davis, Next Generation

18 Aug 2016

Linda Davis is the CEO of talent management agency Next Generation.

Started in 2007, Next Generation now has a headcount of more than 40 people in Ireland and eight in Poland, and it has ambitions to grow to multiple sites across Europe.

The company will be one of the organisations hosting Ireland’s inaugural DatSci Awards next month, which aim to recognise those working in the growing area of data science.

Describe your role and what you do.

I am the CEO of a talent acquisition firm based in Dublin, Ireland and Poland.

How do you prioritise and organise your working life?

It is all about organisation. I use tools such as Todoist, and rank in order of importance what needs to be achieved and by when. I also ensure that I have flexi-time in my diary to manage unexpected activities that come at me. A key focus every day is ensuring that we as a company are delivering into the needs of the clients and candidates and that all members of the team have the full capability to do what is needed. Another prioritisation is innovation and staying on trend with such an evolutionary era.

What are the biggest challenges facing your business and how are you tackling them?

Changing dynamics in recruitment where technology is evolving very quickly, and making sure our employees are aware and up-to-date on all emerging trends. Candidates have access to much more information than ever before, so it takes about 18 touch points with a customer brand before a candidate will decide to engage or not. Key to that engagement is the company’s employee propositions and the vision for the company, what the company can offer the candidate regarding their career development and does the candidate align with the company’s value system (CSR programmes etc). One of the biggest factors for a candidate joining a company is directly related to the leader they will be working with, so companies need to ensure that their leadership team is on message with the overall company infrastructure. Another big shift is the changing dynamics of marketing and social and how it is influencing candidates before the engagement point.

What are the key industry opportunities youre capitalising on?

The tech movement is one of the biggest ones, and the growth of new job families out of that tech shift. There have been a number of evolutions of job families where traditional roles are migrating and new job families such as data science are appearing.

What was your biggest mistake and what did you learn from it?

Not trusting my own gut and pandering to situations when I didn’t agree with them. The key is to stay true to yourself, whatever the consequences, as there will always be consequences and you just have to except that the decision you make is what is right for you at the time.

How do you get the best out of your team?

Training, education and upskilling are key to developing a great team. I think that it is very important to provide your staff with the right tools to do the job and for them to know that they can get reassurance if they are not sure what to do in the next step.

STEM sectors receive a lot of criticism for a lack of diversity. What are your thoughts on this and whats needed to effect change?

I think that it is a very challenging area, however, I think there have been strong strides made in the last few years to break some of the barriers.

Who are your business heroes and why?

Alan Sugar and Tony Robbins

I really like Alan’s straight talking and no-nonsense attitude to business. What he has achieved in his life from very humble beginnings is very admirable and he is someone I would love to aspire to. Tony Robbins for me symbolises that anyone has the ability to achieve anything, given what he has achieved and his journey getting there.

What books have you read that you would recommend?

Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance, by Angela Duckworth; Zero to One, by Peter Thiel and Blake Masters, and Inbound Marketing, by Brian Halligan and Dharmesh Shah.

What are the essential tools and resources that get you through the working week?

Meditation – it helps me stay focused on what I want to achieve.

Working out in the gym every morning helps me clear my head and gets me set up for the day

Staying consistent and doing what I say I will do so that I don’t get behind.

Next Generation in association with CeADAR will be hosting Ireland’s inaugural DatSci Awards in Dublin on 22 September. Visit www.datsciawards.ie or follow @DatSciAwards for more information.