Amanda Davies On True Leadership & Why Kindness Is Your Biggest Asset

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About Her

Name: Amanda Davies

Degree: BSc Management Science, Southampton University

Career title: Managing Director at ISV Online

We spoke to Amanda Davies, Managing Director at ISV Online on the highs and lows of being in a leadership position, what it really takes to be a ‘girl boss’ and some of the biggest job search mistakes candidates make. Amanda kick-started her career in customer service, got into marketing and is now the Managing Director of a recruitment software company, specialised in candidate skills testing.

This is #HerCareerStory.

Tell us a bit about yourself and how you started your career in Marketing?

Amanda: I have always been interested in business. Even at school, I was curious about how businesses worked, the different jobs people did and how this impacted our society. I took a Business Studies A Level at high school then went on to study Management Science at university.

The degree course covered elements of marketing and I knew it was what I wanted to do as a career. Straight from university, I got a job in a call centre working on customer services. This was mainly to pay the rent and bills. I introduced myself to the marketing department and when a role came up, I successfully applied for it. Initially, it was a lot of administration, but I began to learn more about marketing communication, PR, copywriting and so on. I’ve been fortunate enough to work alongside some brilliant marketers and mentors in my career.

Be prepared that not everyone will be pleased if you make it to a leadership position ~ Amanda Davies

In your career journey, you transitioned from Marketing Manager to Managing Director. What advice would you give to young women who desire to be in a leadership position – What are some of the key leadership skills that they need to acquire? 

Amanda: Getting promoted or working your way up in the corporate world can be amazing! Knowing you’ve truly reached a position on your own merit is something that should be celebrated. But there can be drawbacks. Be prepared that not everyone will be pleased if you make it to a leadership position.

In some companies, particularly those who are finance-led, techy or those with a more old-fashioned culture, marketing still has a stigma. A marketer in a director role often still needs to prove him or herself. My advice would be to know the commercial value of marketing, be able to talk confidently about numbers and ROI. Also, don’t be afraid to challenge outdated views and stand your ground.

In terms of skills, if someone is reading this blog or visiting the CCG website they will no doubt already have the drive and intelligence to go places. Other hugely valuable skills include listening which we often say we’re good at but really, we think we’re listening, however, we’re too engrossed in the chatter in our heads. Plus, being curious, helpful, kind and anticipating others’ needs are crucial.

The last point, anticipating needs, was a key factor in helping me work my way up the corporate ladder.

As a Managing Director, do you face any challenges? If so, what are some of the main challenges you face within your industry?

Amanda: Plenty. I face challenges on a daily basis, some bigger than others. Like most busy people, managing the workload is a challenge in itself. The temptation when you are in a manager or director position is to try and do it all and to have all the answers. I had to learn pretty fast how to delegate, how to prioritise and how to say no.

Some less educated people I encounter outside of my company assume that the MD is a man, or that I should be older. It’s been assumed I was a family member, or I somehow got lucky to achieve this role. So, there are still barriers to break down.

The recruitment industry is diverse and forward thinking, the main challenges there are keeping up with the changing technologies, plus the sheer size of the market can be overwhelming but it’s a great place to be.

In your experience working within the HR & Recruitment industry, what are some of the biggest mistakes candidates make when applying for a new job role?

Amanda: The biggest immediate turn-off with candidates is a poorly constructed CV. Recruiters and HR professionals are extremely busy and often receive hundreds of CVs for every job role. Keep yours to two pages maximum, get it proof-read to avoid typos and try and tailor it to the job role you’re applying for. Essentially, make it easy for the hiring manager to find what they are looking for.

Also, don’t fall into the trap of thinking you need an eye-catching CV to stand out. Coloured fonts or paper, different styles and inconsistent headings can make it look unprofessional.

How does your morning routine currently look like?

6:30 AM: First alarm goes off, I’m not a great sleeper (I have trouble switching off but I’m working on it!), as such I’m not a morning person! Once I’m up, I tend to check my phone straight away, so I can clear out anything straightforward and zero the notifications ready to get going when I’m in full work mode later.

7:00 AM: Dog walk time. Come rain or shine my spaniel, Alfie, and I head out for a morning walk. This is usually my remit in the morning since my husband leaves for work early. I like the morning walk, it wakes me up fully and kickstarts the energy for the day, plus we’re lucky to live near the New Forest in the south of England which is beautiful.

8:00 AM:  I need to be out the door to get to the office. I’m often travelling for meetings and have around an hour’s commute to my office, so I listen to a lot of audiobooks, which I love. Currently, I’m listening to Becoming by Michelle Obama which I would highly recommend.

Being nice is not a weakness ~ Amanda Davies

Who is your biggest inspiration at the moment?

Amanda: In the public eye, I would say Michelle Obama. Her book is great – it’s honest, warm and surprisingly relatable despite her being the former first lady! Plus, Brené Brown is a great source of inspiration, energy and ‘lightbulb’ moments. I can’t recommend her books enough.

Out of the public eye, I am inspired by my friends and family on an almost daily basis. I wasn’t fortunate enough to have children, but I have energetic nieces, nephews and godchildren. When I see my sister and friends juggling small people and work, I am in awe!

What is your number one piece of advice for working women?

Amanda: Being nice is not a weakness. Too many people say ‘you’re too nice’ as if it’s a bad thing. I feel the implication behind this is that you’re a pushover. For one thing, being nice hasn’t exactly harmed my career. Plus, I truly believe kindness, generosity and encouragement are some of the biggest gifts you can give in and out of work.

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