Paula Rogers established Admiral Recruitment in 1995. For over 23 years, Admiral Recruitment has carved a reputation within the hospitality sector as the ‘go to’ consultancy for hospitality professionals, with over 100,000 candidates on its live database and a projected annual turnover of £12 million for 2018. Paula is a Fellow of the Institute of Hospitality and appears on the Women 1St Top 100 Listing of the most inspiring and dynamic women within the UK hospitality sector. She was shortlisted for the NatWest everywoman Award in 2016 and highly commended in The Global Recruiter Awards in 2018. Mother of two young daughters, she is a life-long advocate of working mothers and a mentor with Oxford Brookes University and The Wimbledon Guild. When not balancing the demands of family and business life, Paula competes at an international level in triathlon and running events.
How has your life experience made you the leader you are today?
I am one of a family of seventeen, so I learned from a young age the value of a great family work ethic. My father, who was a farmer and a gentleman, worked hard and was a great role model. My mother, who was very tough – and responsible for so many people, ensured that we had the the basic core values, care, drive, desire and emotional resilience to succeed. She was the ultimate CEO, nurturing, caring and leading by example. I think my leadership skills are testament to the great family values she passed on. As the youngest, I also benefited greatly from my older siblings who mentored and supported me.
How has your previous employment experience aided your current role?
Throughout my life and my career, I have been fortunate to have some great bosses, peers and clients who have all inspired me, including a couple of old school, tough yet supportive managers who pushed me beyond my comfort zone at times. Every employment experience I have had to date has aided my career. I started my career at 21 years of age as a temp in a London-based recruitment company. I absolutely loved the experience and within four years, at just 25, I was offered the London franchise for Drake International, one of the largest recruitment companies in the world. That taught me so much about business and running an organisation. After two successful years, finding running a franchise too restrictive, I founded Admiral Recruitment and have steadily grown the business since then.
What have the highlights and challenges been during your current role?
The highlight is working with an amazing team and seeing them develop. My absolute joy is seeing people shine and grow with confidence and knowledge. Mentoring is at the heart of the business so everyone in the company plays their part in supporting people’s development within the hospitality sector, from grass roots apprenticeship level to managerial level.
Another high has been growing the business and relationships with clients whom I have grown up with. Hospitality recruitment is a fast-paced, transient sector so losing great people is challenging. The pace and changes in the world have been quick to influence the business so it’s vital that we are agile and proactive. At times, I have too high expectations of myself and others so that brings its own challenges.
What advice can you offer to women who want a career in your industry?
My advice is the same for men and for women; always keep in mind that there is no glass ceiling. Reach for the stars, believe in yourself, face fears, jump up after disappointments and keep going.
What is the most important lesson you’ve learned in your career to date?
In order to learn, you have to be a good listener. Learn how to listen to those around you -and, most importantly, pause. This advice comes from one who doesn’t stand still easily! I have learned to pause and reflect. Listening is a skill I have yet to master as I’m too impatient at times to listen. I listen to my clients and when I truly listen to my team, it’s pure brilliance at times. Another lesson I have learned is to have a great mentor; having someone who will guide and support you through good and bad times is an invaluable resource for anyone in business.
How do you maintain a work/life balance?
Nick Dixon, my husband, has been massively supportive and I couldn’t have achieved what I have to date within him. He is my rock. I am also fortunate to have good support at home to help with our two daughters and our home. This allows me to spend time on one of my other passions in life – sport. For the first eight years of my business I was competing internationally as an athlete so I was running 60-80 miles a week while building the business. It made me agile, self-motivated and focused. I still train 15-18 hours per week now and I find that it gives me the head space I need to switch off from work. I also laugh a lot at myself and this can put everything into perspective. My colleagues, friends and my two daughters keep me grounded. My girls give not an inch!
What do you think is the biggest issue for women in the workplace?
Lack of confidence and belief in themselves is still a big issue for women in the workplace. I see this far too often; subservient behaviours around stronger male colleagues, often at senior level where there is an overwhelming ratio of male vs female. This is where a good mentor can help. Despite all of the progress made, trying to balance work and family life is still a challenging issue many women. The culture in the workplace has to support women more and make it possible for them to fulfil their career aspirations. Companies need to consider the benefits of more flexible working options, and, particularly, job sharing to improve the work/life balance.
How can we encourage more women to start their own business?
Positivity is all-important. Help women who may be contemplating that leap to believe in their ability to give them the confidence to take risks. Be available as a mentor because everyone needs someone to turn to, particularly in the early days of the business when it can be quite daunting. It’s sad that there is still stigma attached to women running business from home and built around a work/life family balance. They need to be mentored and encouraged.
How has mentorship made a difference in your professional and personal life?
I can’t begin to emphasise how instrumental this is. I have had mentors throughout my entire career, and every day I am one. We give out what we receive. A really robust mentoring programme is paramount to anyone’s career or business.
Which other female leaders do you admire and why?
My mother, Pauline, the CEO of our family – 10 girls and 7 boys – has and also will be the greatest female leader in my life. We are all a great credit to her, both in family life and work. Her work ethic and her ability to support us all will never be forgotten. Another great female leader was Margaret Thatcher. In one of the toughest periods in our economic history, this amazing woman was resilient and determined. I view the Queen as another great leader – I love her! Last, but not least, Stephanie Hamilton, director of people and culture with ISS Facilities Services Ltd, who is a fun and caring woman with no ego; she is a great family person and a fantastic role model for businesswomen.
What do you want to professionally and personally accomplish in the next year?
My goal over the next twelve months is to retain, engage and inspire our teams to be the best we can be. This year, we came highly commended in the Global Recruiter Awards for best specialist recruitment company – an incredible achievement. I would love to think that we could be placed in the Top 3 in hospitality recruiters. On a more personal level, I want to continue to support my daughters in their school life and growing up, do the right thing by people with love, support my husband in his new venture and help others, especially young women. Last, but not least, I am aspiring to gain GOLD in the Euro Duathlon in October 2018…rather ambitious but ‘reach for the stars’!
What are the top three tips you can offer to an entrepreneur starting out?
Get a mentor from the very start because you will always need to someone to turn to who will make you feel good inside.
Surround yourself with like-minded, positive people who inspire you because you will benefit enormously from them. Recruit individuals who will better than you. For those tasks you don’t like doing, get people who do because, otherwise, those tasks will frustrate you and drain your energy, taking attention off your business goals and where you want to be. Sweat the big stuff – easier said than done.
Stay in your centre of excellence. Whatever your bag is, stick to your bag. Do something you love and have always done and keep it simple. Accept, accept, accept what you are great at, not so great at and what you dislike doing.