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My Job in 5: Abigail Barclay

Meet Abigail Barclay, Search Director at Inspired Selection, she's under the spotlight this week for My Job in 5.
Written on 02/16/2023 - 14:52

Describe your role
I am the Search Director at Inspired. Having joined the business over ten years ago, I launched the Executive Search division – Inspired Search - five years ago and have continued to lead this as it has grown. Executive Search works differently from traditional recruitment and serves a slightly different market and it’s a methodology designed for senior leadership positions which is research-led rather than campaign-led. This means that, through my own extensive network, the network that Inspired has cultivated over the last 24 years, and additional desk research, I’m providing my clients with a full and diverse view of the talent market, and am able to source the best talent for those positions. It’s also sector agnostic which enables us to look at talent from outside of publishing as well as from within the industry, including a wider variety of skills and backgrounds. 

I’m also partnering with publishing organisations to source their new business leaders whether it’s a replacement role, part of a wider succession planning exercise, someone to head up a new division or territory, an non-executive director or an interim hire. Getting to know my clients’ businesses and operating market is essential to my success and so a large part of my role is ensuring that I’m plugged into the industry via networking, speaking on panels and regularly meeting CEOs and their Boards. In this vein, I have researched, written and publish white papers on key topics and collaborate with industry bodies to support their communities with insight and training. 

What do you like best about your role?

One of my favourite parts about my role is being part of an absolutely fantastic team. Surrounded by driven, knowledgeable and passionate people is so inspiring (pardon the pun!). I love what I do and the notion that I can play a part of other people’s careers, hopefully introducing them to roles in which they can be as happy as I am really motivates me. 

More generally, I like being inspired by publishing people every day. Talking to senior leaders who are tackling some of the industry’s challenges, identifying opportunities for innovation and cultivating organisations in which others can thrive is truly a privilege. 

Which new projects or titles are you working on at the moment?

Alongside my live headhunts, which of course carry a certain degree of sensitivity and confidentiality, I am currently working on a white paper to explore the topic of women in leadership within the industry. Publishing enjoys the presence of some absolutely fantastic female leaders and while there  is some work to do to achieve true gender parity within the leadership space, there is lots that we can reflect on as successful. The paper will aim to review the systemic changes organisations can adapt / adopt in order to cultivate cultures whereby anyone of any gender can thrive into a leadership position if that is their ambition. 
What skills do you need for your role. 

In order to be successful in my role as Search Director at Inspired, I need to implement the following skills such as listening and empathetic communication, successful leadership, negotiation, business development, research and insight. I also believe that effective networking, an understanding of HR and recruitment and general business practices and a passion for people and diversity also play in what makes my role successful.

What advice would you give to those looking to work in the industry?    

For anyone looking to work in publishing, I would say be open to the variety that the industry has to offer. Our industry consists of a wide variety of organisations publishing across all sorts of topics and disciplines in a range of product types. Each one is fascinating in its own right so go in with an open mind. 

Of course my role is largely centred around the leadership level but to anyone of any level, I would say look out for a mentor. Whether it’s a formal mentor scheme, a work buddy or someone who seems to champion you less formally at work, really foster those relationships. Ask questions, learn from them, share your ideas and your concerns and seize opportunities to work with them in anyway. Finding people you respect and being able to be open with them is such a marvellous way of developing and learning.