As MMK Executive embarks on its second year, we welcome a new addition to the team. Catherine Hughes recently started as Practice Lead and we thought we would take a few minutes to learn more about her journey to us.
Give us a brief snapshot of the journey so far…
One of my favourite questions to ask my peers working in executive search or recruitment is, ‘how did you end up in the sector?’ There is rarely a duplicate answer. Search and recruitment are sectors that people tend to luckily stumble upon, fall in love with and the rest is history. This was certainly the case for me. I spent a few years working in America for a consultancy group that partnered with organisations across healthcare, banking, construction, retail and technology developing tailored leadership development programmes for senior management and leadership teams. I started to deeply appreciate the importance of people as a critical part of a company’s success and how leaders impacted both team and company performance.
Upon returning to Ireland, there was a great opportunity to continue my career supporting senior leadership teams by taking a step into executive search. For the last number of years, I’ve had the privilege of partnering with organisations in the not-for-profit and international development sector particularly focused on global health and sustainability conducting search assignments internationally.
I really enjoy what I do, getting to learn about people’s career journey and their motivations, which often differ dramatically depending on the stage of their personal and professional life. I’m particularly interested in the movement of senior leadership talent from one sector to another, whether that be from professional services into not-for-profit or private sector into higher education, among other examples. I’m seeing huge appetite and growing confidence in organisations making senior hires from outside their sector seeking that fresh perspective and new thinking.
What led you to MMK Executive?
I think timing always has an interesting role to play in our professional journeys. Having spent the last couple of years meeting with many companies’ executive teams, learning more about their people agenda’s, succession planning efforts, and support they needed with senior talent and leadership roles, a couple of common trends stood out to me. Organisations had difficulty hiring for key leadership positions across different parts of the business that perhaps a traditional executive search process wasn’t suitable, whether it be a budgetary constraint, or the process to hire was too long. Many HR Directors, Boards and hiring managers echoed similar sentiment – they wanted the in-depth research and close partnership of a search process but perhaps a quicker pace and more agile, affordable option. There was a real need for the market to offer a fresh hybrid recruitment solution for senior talent. From my initial conversations with MMK Executive, I knew this would be a valuable and agile option across a variety of organisations and sectors, so I was eager to be part of building this new arm of business under the reputable international Morgan McKinley brand.
Networking must be an important part of your new role. How has it been starting a new job during Covid-19 Pandemic?
I have always loved the opportunity to meet with different people, learn about their jobs and organisations and their personal interests. I believe there are so many subtle synergies between us all that having those informal conversations together over coffee can lead us down surprising paths. As someone who gets their energy from meeting people, this transition to remote working has been an adjustment.
As with any new job, particularly within the recruitment and search sector, it’s important to meet new people. Introductory conversations that might’ve been enjoyed in-person over a coffee in our favourite local spot have now shifted to a ‘virtual coffee’. It’s still been as enjoyable and I’m finding that the positives from this current situation are that people have a little more time at their disposal and are open to new conversations with new people. I’m feeling appreciative that we have the wonderful tools of video conferencing to keep us feeling connected and part of a community while we all help one another through this time.