DIRECTOR INTERVIEW: EMMA CRAYFOURD
At White Label, we live by our #MakingPeopleBetter promise and have a true passion for driving positive change.
No one lives to this promise more than our Director, Emma Crayfourd. Emma has built a career around helping people to achieve their goals and continues to do this by supporting the development and growth of the White Label team.
In April 2022, Emma celebrated her tenth year with us. As a founding team member, she has been integral to our success – we know we wouldn’t be where we are today without her!
To spotlight Emma’s incredible work over the last ten years, we want to showcase her journey and highlight just some of her outstanding achievements.
Take a read of our interview with Emma as she talks us through her path to recruitment, what sets White Label apart and her outlook for the future!
What made you first interested in a career in recruitment?
I was 21 and working in Lettings in Manchester City centre – although I loved sales and working with people, it just didn’t feel like my forever role (the number of parking tickets I received definitely didn’t have something to do with it!).
I had been working since the age of 14 and was more than happy to put the hours in, but I needed to know that I was in the right career, headed towards something that I’d enjoy.
I got chatting with my brother’s friend who worked for Sthree in London. He kindly got me my first interview (the commission he earned from putting me forward may have had a slight influence on this!). After the gruelling interview process, I joined Huxley Manchester in 2007 as part of their Contract Engineering team and never looked back.
Can you give us a brief overview of your career so far?
I started my career as a Letting Agent in central Manchester during my final year at the University of Manchester, where I studied Business Management. I loved the freedom of being out and about, managing my diary, meeting new people and of course the buzz of a competitive sales environment.
I initially applied for a Business Development role at Huxley as I thought I would love being out on the road but I quickly realised that I enjoyed the office environment far too much to be out on my own all the time.
I started my recruitment career in 2007. Some would say starting during a major financial crisis would be particularly tough, but on reflection, I think it stood me in good stead for the rest of my career. At the time we knew no different!
I learned how to build strong long-term client relationships from some superb business developers. Many of these clients and candidates still come back to me 15 years later. From Huxley, I moved on to a Manchester-based agency focussing on Risk Management and Financial Crime in London Banking – a complete change from Engineering! Most of the work was done via email or face to face with few chances to speak to anyone on the phone.
After a couple of years, I missed Engineering and being able to arrange meetings with my clients and candidates quickly.
I was still in touch with Louise (our MD) from our early Sthree days and we began talks about me joining White Label. Initially, we were both a little unsure about navigating a working relationship after being such good friends but agreed to give it a go.
Fast-forward 10 years and here we are! I joined White Label as a Senior Consultant and have worked my way up to Director level.
What are the biggest changes you’ve seen within the engineering and manufacturing sector?
The biggest changes have come with different economic environments. I started my career in 2007, in the middle of the financial crisis. During this time, we struggled to find clients who needed candidates. We experienced a similar situation again during the COVID-19 pandemic. The market has now done a complete 180 and it is very candidate-driven.
What is the biggest lesson that you have learned in your career to date?
Give people promotions before they think they are ready for them. If you show you believe in them, they always surprise themselves.
Our biggest growth at White Label has come from either myself or Louise being on maternity leave. With five children between us, there have been times when either myself or others have REALLY had to push ourselves – this has truly been the making of the business.
Sometimes being in a position where you have to step up makes you realise what you are capable of. At one point, I was a Principal Consultant with a couple of reports and all of a sudden I had to take over the day to day management of the whole office. At the time it felt like madness but Louise having this level of trust in me was a real turning point in my career.
We had a similar situation more recently when three of the most senior members of our team went on maternity leave at the same time.
The team worked hard to prove what they are capable of and the business has leapt forward because of this.
Experiences like this have developed White Label into an unstoppable force by giving us the underlying belief that we can make anything work.
One of my favourite sayings from management training with Nicky Coffin is “What is the biggest gift in this challenge”. For us, the gift has always been how people step up to show what they can really do.
I was most definitely guilty of playing it too safe in my early career.
What would you say has been your biggest career achievement?
Staff retention! ⅔ of the White Label team have been with the business for between four and ten years.
What do you enjoy most about your role as Director?
Watching people develop within their roles, hitting business plan objectives and feeling that things are moving forward both in terms of financial results and people growth. I also enjoy improving offerings for our team and our candidates and clients.
What do you think is particularly special about White Label’s company culture?
We all have very genuine relationships with each other. Everyone has each other’s backs and we have complete two-way trust. It is this trust that allows us to be able to offer all of the flexible working we have in place.
What does the future look like for White Label?
Steady growth! My aim has been to replace myself as Business Manager, with several emerging leaders coming through. We are now at a point where we have a solid foundation for real growth with so much leadership talent.
Our growth comes from the team – I write the business plan once I have read the team’s personal visions. I am seriously excited to see the potential within our team excel.
How have you seen the White Label team grow/develop and what has been your role in this as director?
We encourage a growth mindset within the team and every individual. Every member of staff, regardless of level, has input into business decisions.
The majority of our development has come from the team. Our staff know that we want to hear their voices – they are expected to speak up and tell us how we can be better.
We are not a ‘bums on seats’ agency; we grow steadily and only recruit when we feel the whole team is ready and are hitting their targets. One of my favourite parts of the role (and one of the only areas I struggle to completely delegate) is internal recruitment.
I am very fussy, a nightmare for Rec to Recs (and probably the team, at times!) but it is the one thing I won’t be flexible on. I am more than happy to flex on experience and background but I will absolutely will not budge on person fit.
What does the future look like for you at White Label?
As our future leaders start to come through, I am moving into a more strategic role within the business, with a specific focus on people development and sales growth.
We hope you have found Emma’s journey inspiring. If you are looking for advice about a career in recruitment, do not hesitate to get in touch with a member of the White Label team, today! email@example.com
Do One Thing December As a recruitment company, White Label is all about people. Our teams love to find our clients the best possible people for their organisations, whether that’s in the Engineering, Manufacturing, Supply Chain, or Technical Sales industries. The...