Shirley Parsons Ltd (and not Shirley herself) is fifteen years old on October 1st. We spoke to James Pomeroy, Group Health, Safety, Environment and Security Director at Lloyd's Register, about his experience of working with Shirley Parsons over the years.
When did you first deal with Shirley Parsons?
I first spoke to Shirley twenty years ago in 2000 when she was with working at Sypol. She placed me in a role was with CitiGroup and she immediately impressed me with her knowledge, understanding and empathy.
What has been your relationship with Shirley Parsons since?
Shirley placed me into a role with a risk management consultancy a few years after CitiGroup and then approached me about my current role with Lloyd's Register in 2016. Since I have been with Lloyd's Register, I have actually used Shirley Parsons to recruit key members of my team. I have also taken part in several seminars and events with the business.
What words would you use to describe Shirley Parsons?
Shirley as an individual is very empathetic very understanding. She is a very good listener, does not interrupt and listens to what has been said. She has a high degree of emotional intelligence, understands organisations and the kind of personality that will work well within them. She doesn’t passively accept what she is told. I have known her to challenge the client in a diplomatic way when she does not think they have thought through a situation. She has instilled these values into the consultants that work for the business and, in my experience, they have learnt her approach.
How has Shirley Parsons helped you to achieve your goals?
I know it sounds a bit trite, but I do not think I have achieved what I would have managed to achieve without the support of the career kind of counsellor that Shirley is. She will speak to her network on a regular basis even when you know they are not looking at a moving role. She has a great understanding of the market and will use it to advise her network on career management. In my case, she challenged me in terms of what I am looking for from my career and presented opportunities that I may not initially have thought about within my capabilities.
What makes Shirley Parsons different to other recruitment businesses?
Shirley was the first to specialise in the health and safety recruitment market and others have followed but do not have the longevity or the market insight that Shirley Parsons the business has. Shirley provides a personal touch - Shirley Parsons is her brand and everyone who works for her represents her level of service. Unlike many other recruiters, all the Shirley Parsons team understand that delivering great service, empathy and clear communication is vital to people looking for new roles.
I think one of the true tests of a good recruitment partner is how they react to disappointment and candidates saying no! I remember one time that I had attended an interview and the client was very keen to offer me the role, but something just did not feel right to me. I spoke about this with Shirley and she never tried to force me into the role. She was a great sounding board for my concerns and we both decided it was not the right role for me. Equally, I know that she and her team have dealt very well with candidates that have not been selected. My experience is that they treat candidates with respect, dignity and honesty. They do not shy away from those difficult conversations – the true test of a recruitment consultant is how they tell candidates they are not successful, and I have never heard anybody say any bad words about Shirley Parsons consultants.
How has Shirley Parsons contributed to the HSE sector?
One of the drawbacks of being an HSE Director is that it is quite a lonely position. You are at the top of the organisation for that particular function and you cannot go to your colleagues within the organisation for technical support. The conferences, network working events and webinars that Shirley and her team organise are really valuable because they enable us to share ideas in a very secure environment. They have also helped me to build my network and raise my profile by being an active speaker and participant. At an IOSH event a few years ago we were all asked who has had a positive influence on their career. Most spoke about previous bosses or mentors and I spoke for 2 minutes about Shirley and had the comment “she’s not really a practitioner”. And that is the key contribution that she brings to many senior H&S professionals. She is not an active practitioner, but she understands more about Health & Safety than most of us. And she is very happy to share her knowledge, her contacts, her network and her advice with everybody. Her real contribution and even her legacy to the Health & Safety community is the concept of altruistic service – helping and supporting professionals in their careers and supporting businesses to develop stronger and more effective HSE functions.