Zoë Morris (Social Sciences – Psychology, 1998) carved out her career with precision and passion. During her time in City, Zoë maintained a focus on her future, balancing a job next to her studies to get the most out of her time. Understanding the importance of wellbeing, she made sure her schedule included enough activities to de-stress. After graduating, Zoë took up a graduate training programme with a brewery, which was hard work but taught her fantastic life and career skills, working in a male-dominated environment she learned how to make herself noticed and ensured her talents were recognised. Throughout the graduate programme, Zoë learned that her passion lied in working with people.
In 2000, armed with a new goal, a wealth of experience and fantastic skills, Zoë began working at Hays plc, a global recruitment agency, where she worked herself up to a directorial position. Then, harnessing her great potential, she joined Frank Recruitment Group in 2016 as Chief Operations Officer, later becoming President of the company.
Through her career, Zoë didn’t allow complications to deter her from succeeding and achieving her goal. She continued to push forward and remained determined to bring success to both herself and her team.
Find out more about Zoë and how her hard work allowed her to establish a successful career below:
Can you tell me about your time at City?
The most important lesson I learnt at City was the value of hard work and the importance of balance. Managing my studies with a 25-plus hour-a-week job taught me how to get the most out of life mixing studies, work, and relaxation, and also of course how to live independently, prioritise, and manage my finances.
Sometimes university can seem stressful so having the right balance in your life is important. For me, the joy of living in the heart of the capital city, combined with the sense of achievement from my studies, letting off steam at the gym alongside the support of the reliable network of my life-long friends that I made at City made it a memorable period of my life.
What happened after you graduated?
After graduating from City in 1998, I was hired for a two-year graduate training programme at the Belgian brewery company, Interbrew, later bought by the British multinational company Whitbread.
Most of my time was spent on the road meeting eight clients a day and left little time for mentoring and coaching. It was hard work and through this experience, I gained a confidence that enabled me to persevere in a predominantly male-dominated environment and successfully negotiate on behalf of the company.
The time alone on the road at Interbrew made me realise that what I really wanted from life was to work with people, and hence I left to pursue a career in recruitment. When I began working for Hays plc, I found working closely with people to find their dream job was so much more rewarding than working alone to sell a product.
Can you tell us more about how you established your career?
I began my career at Hays plc, starting out as a junior recruitment consultant and eventually worked my way up to the position of Director of the company’s flagship office in London. I was with Hays plc for the first 15 years of my career, and in 2016 I was given the opportunity to join Frank Recruitment Group as the Chief Operations Officer. Since then, I’ve become the company’s President. Today I oversee the organisation’s ongoing business and sales operations, which includes everything from exploring whitespace sales markets and territories to being actively involved in the direction of our employee training.
When I took my first few steps into the world of recruitment, I realised that a great deal of psychology applies not just to sales, but leadership in general. As a psychology graduate, it felt like a very natural fit for me from day one – I just fell in love with the industry. Finding and landing your dream job is a special achievement, so helping driven, talented people build and shape their careers and having a front-row seat to that experience is one of the most satisfying parts of my job.
What has been the most rewarding experience?
I think a lot of people believe that because recruitment is a very sales-driven industry, people who choose this line of work do it because they love the thrill of a deal. But for me, there is nothing more rewarding than seeing a candidate land their dream job and knowing that myself and my team were a part of that process – it’s that element that makes my job that little bit more special to me.
What has been the biggest challenge with regards to your career?
Working in recruitment, you come across challenges daily, as the industry operates entirely on short-term targets that can change suddenly without much warning. One of the biggest challenges both my team and I have faced was navigating the 2008 global financial crisis while attempting simultaneously to break into the highly competitive tech market. We not only survived the financial crisis but we came out stronger on the other side, entering the European market in 2009.
Do you have any advice for anyone looking to follow in your footsteps?
You need to get out there and forge your own opportunities instead of waiting for them to fall into your lap. You miss out on so much by waiting for the ‘right’ opportunity to come along – many of my achievements have come from creating my own opportunities. I would recommend carving out your own space in the world and mapping your own path to success, rather than following the paths of others.
I think that when you are just starting out, it is natural to want to get your bearings before committing to a long-term plan. Throughout your time at university and early on in your professional life, I would recommend focusing more on short-term goals and achievements rather than long-term planning. As you build up more experience, it will become easier for you to make long-term plans and set more ambitious career goals to keep you motivated.
Follow Zoë’s activities on her LinkedIn profile.