In our third installment of the Double Decade Brigade, we speak to to Genna Haines, our long serving Operations Director who has 24 years of service. Genna has held almost every position in the recruitment back office so there isn't much she hasn't seen her career. From systems implementations to office refurb's... odds on Genna will have been the driving force behind it! She talks us through her journey with Vector and let's us know why she has decided to stay with us for all these years.
Did you work anywhere before you joined Vector?
I worked part time in a nursing home while I was studying through school, I was all set to do my degree in nursing but had a change of heart, I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do and then found an ad, I think it was in the Tunbridge Wells Courier, for an admin assistant in Crowborough, it felt like a completely different change of direction and not something I had thought about doing before so I applied, got offered an interview and the rest is history!
What made you want to get into administration?
To be honest, it was to experience doing something different, all I had done was care work and I was still very young and didn't really know where I was going, what I wanted to do. I had achieved an NVQ in business and I also did an A level in business studies, the job looked like it suited my skills, so I went for it.
Talk us through how your role has evolved over the years.
I started off as an admin assistant with very basic duties such as phone answering, updating and maintaining our database, CV formatting. As I gained more experience the role progressed to include assisting with accounts and contracts. I have been very fortunate to have had many opportunities presented to me to progress my career through Vector, as the company grew my role evolved in to a more operational one. In 2007 we opened our second office in the Southwest, Donna needed someone to look after both offices, she pitched the role to me, and I jumped at the chance to move into Facilities Management. During Covid I was promoted to Operations Director where I now deal with all of the work I had before alongside all of our licensing and technical requirements.
What did Vector’s technical set up look like when you first started?
Looking back and comparing it to what we have now I would say very basic but that’s only because tech has evolved so much. We were entirely reliant on manual processes. We used to post out our Contracts, letters to candidates with potential roles and also requesting CVs to grow our database, post out consultant’s business cards to clients amongst other marketing paraphernalia, I spent a lot of time at the post office! All the accounting was done manually and recorded in a book, and we used to pay our suppliers by cheque. We had a separate PC that would connect us to our banking system. It wasn't connected to anybody's PC so however needed to use it would have to wheel over to it and do what they needed to.
What has been the most important leap in technology over the last 20 years?
I don't think there's one thing. Obviously, the expansion of broadband, internet, social media has probably had the biggest impact on how we operate now. Everyone has a smartphone now which means our opportunities to engage with candidates via different methods has dramatically increased. But with that comes the added responsibility of growing a reputable online presence, which takes a lot of time and effort and skill to do properly.
Virtual meetings such as Teams/Zoom have saved huge amounts of time and taken out the need to travel to attend meetings. And finally, the huge leap in remote working means there’s a far bigger pool of candidates for roles now, as there’s no need to be in the same geographical location.
How has database maintenance progressed?
I don't have to retype faxed CVs into a Word document and upload them to the database anymore, a huge plus! In terms of the process of adding a candidate onto the database and maintenance of records the process hasn't really changed an awful lot over 20 years. Although we've made things a lot easier through the introduction of technology such as CV parsing which has taken the leg work out of registering and updating profiles.
What is your personal highlight?
There's been so many. Achieving the Director job title, that's got to be up there.
I guess in terms of projects, there's been lots, but I would say probably the Cyber Essentials work that I've been doing. That seems to be the most rewarding, just knowing the tech that we have got in place is current and it's secure. It's been an interesting project to go through and it highlights areas of the business that we could improve on, and we have, so it's been very enlightening.
What has had the biggest impact on back-office processes.
I would have to say the digitalization of our processes. Everything is so streamlined because of how we've developed our systems such as Vector Live. The system provides a complete overview of both client and supplier contracts, including a timesheet management system. We used to post out time sheets, it would just be a very basic table that we would print out ourselves on Vector headed paper. Then we progressed to carbon copy versions. We had everything on paper, so contracts, time sheets, we had so many filing cabinets. Now that it’s all digital there is far more space in the office!
Why have you stayed with Vector all this time?
I would say there are many things, I've been privileged to work with such outstanding back-office teams, past and present, over the years. I've been allowed to progress my role while having a family, which has been really important to me, Donna our Managing Director has been very supportive of that, so why would I want to go anywhere else? My work/family life balance has been exactly where I needed it to be, and if it hadn't, then I wouldn't have stayed. But it has, and that's been worth its weight in gold for me, and lastly, it’s just a really nice place to work.