An Interview with Simone Mears

An Interview with Simone Mears

We thought it might be nice to introduce you to some of our leaders over the next couple of weeks, starting with Simone Mears.

Simone is a true leader in both the Financial Services market and within Executive Search.

She co-founded Profusion Group in 2005 and is the Director of our executive search practice – pac executive.

Simone specialises in the appointment of senior roles across advice, superannuation, platforms, insurance and asset management.

We put Simone Mears, the head of our Executive Search team under the spotlight recently and asked her about her views, and the future of our industry.

Interviewing her for our newsletter was fascinating even though I’ve known her and worked with her as a Partner in the firm for years. 
Why do you do what you do?

The thing I really love about recruitment or executive search is the variety.  What’s amazing in this role is that we get to work in so many difference organisations.  We are not a standard service provider.  We don’t have a product we’re selling.  When we’re working with our clients, we’re consulting and we get really involved deeply with our clients.

The depth and breadth of the work is what I love.  I love working with an Executive and leadership team on their strategy by sourcing great people and then I get to move on and work with another company and then another company.

When you work with one organisation you can get caught up with the politics.  Because we’re moving between organisations, and we work with the same companies which is great. You become part of their team, and your get the variety.

It’s exciting and satisfying.  Really working with the clients at a senior level.  When you work with an organisation when you can help an organisation forward.  It intensely challenging.

Consultants complain that we always get the hard roles.  Clients would do it themselves if it was easy.
I love starting a new role, and not having any idea who the person will be, it’s like doing a jigsaw puzzle blindfolded.
Why Profusion? 

Because we’re the best in the market.  We have always taken a consultative approach.  We’re not a transactional business.  We’ve never had performance KPIs around activity.  Consultants have never had targets on interviews, phone calls, and business development meetings. 

People know what they need to do, we give them the support they need but we’ve never had a prescriptive culture.  I believe this allows people to really work with clients in a way that services them and the client.  They can put their time and energy into the right activities. 

For instance, I worked for agencies where you had to do business development on Fridays.  It was lunacy.  What I should have been doing is sourcing candidates, and servicing clients.

The way I work, is that I do business development every day.  It doesn’t make sense to treat people like machines.  When you treat people like machines you get a soulless culture.

It’s all about the client getting the best outcome.  It’s a very team based culture.  We don’t fee split for roles or candidates.  Everyone helps each other.  You’re always thinking about the best outcome for the client and the candidate, rather than the best outcome for you.

When you help other people, they always help you.  If you’re stuck, people will help you.  Every single time.  That sharing culture is really important.

The other thing, is that we have a diverse business model.  We have executive search, permanent, contracting and human capital.  We have a diverse range of services for our client.  Real depth.
What are you excited about right now?

What is the industry going to look like in two years, five years and ten years’ time?

Technology has changed our sector.  We are in a data management business, not a people business.
I use the example of Kodak, they thought they were in the photo industry and not the technology industry. Kodak lost the opportunity to do what they were good at because they didn’t understand what the industry was that they were in.

We are in the data management industry.  We don’t forget about the people.

What does the future hold, and what will internal talent teams look like?  Talent teams will look completely different in ten years to what they do now.

How is the ever-changing digital landscape going to change our market?  How do we adapt and change to continue to sustain our success in to the future?
What does the next ten years in recruitment look like?

The next five years will probably be okay in terms of the economic environment.  I think we are in a fairly strong economic cycle.  Our clients and growing and hiring staff, and there isn’t enough talent to sustain their needs.

It may be hard for us as there will be a difficultly in supply.  It won’t last forever.

Five years on, what will the next evolution look like from there? 

I think that we will significant automation in our clients’ businesses.  The big banks can automate enormous numbers of jobs, a lot of roles will disappear and change.  That will have a flow on affect to the internal talent teams. 

Four years’ time, they’ll start to automate and shed jobs.  The teams to recruit those roles won’t be required.  Companies won’t need high volume recruiters, but they’ll increase areas of specialisation.  Some will lose their jobs and some will update their capabilities and upskill. 

For instance, CBA and AMP have a strong executive talent team.  “Let’s increase the capacity and competency of our internal team” and they will be able to compete more effectively with us.
That’s coming.  That’s a huge threat for the senior recruitment that is done.
What’s next for your business?

We’re very focused on what the future looks like.  We are brainstorming.  What does the business look like in 2025?

No ideas are crazy or stupid.  We need to get the ideas out from the people who are on the tools every day.  The solution comes from a lot of people’s ideas and creativity.

We’re developing concepts to turn into digital solutions, people and hiring services.  It’s not us developing the next LinkedIn.  We can’t compete with those global superstars.

Unilever is the largest employer in the world, and will likely develop technology to save themselves in recruitment.

We will need to come up with something completely different.  It’s about coming to terms with the fact we are in a data management paradigm now.

We need to think about data management and solutions.  You won’t lose your job to a computer but you may lose your job to someone who knows how to use one.
How do you take care of yourself?

I take care of myself by not doing everything.  I recognise that I can’t do everything, I can’t finish everything.  Everything doesn’t need to be done the way that I like it to be done.  I can let it go.  “I can do this tomorrow.”

I can be nicer to myself.  I am generation X.  We were taught that we were lucky to have a job, and we need to keep our head down and work hard.
Work was 8 am to 6 pm, and if you came in after that, you were lazy.

When generation Y’s came into the business, I was shocked and horrified.  They’d go to the gym at lunch.  And then they’d go at 3 pm and still have lunch.  I was aghast.

But, they were right.  We were forced to adapt and change.  Because we had to.  Why not?
You’re more energized and happy for doing what you love. 

Rather than eating late, going to bed with full stomach and working through the day exhausted with the life sucked out of you.

We came to terms with productivity, working long hours with a punishing intensity.

The gen Y paradigm was, “you should be grateful that I am here.” What I’ve had to learn is to shift my own paradigms around things.

It’s not about you being grateful for your job.
How can I be most productive for my life? 
It’s all integrated now.  There isn’t separation now.  I can go home, make dinner for my son and log in later if needed. 
What do you think 2018 will bring us?   

I don’t know.  I look at my iPhone when I wake up.  I see the CNN headlines.  There’s a part of me that worries about North Korea, about Donald Trump, and suicide bombings in Europe.  There’s an expectation that I’ll see something catastrophic.  There’s an expectation that something bad is going to happen.

Before 9/11 we didn’t expect things to happen like that.  Business froze after 9/11.

Now, things go on.  Markets now continue.  No one really understands what the markets will do.

I think it will probably be another year of growth and our business will grow as a result.

Get in touch

Profusion Group consultants are leaders in their field.  We offer both recruitment services and executive search services.  Get in contact if you’re looking for a recruitment partners to help you grow your team.

Kind Regards,


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