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Continuing my theme from last week’s blog, celebrating International Women’s Day, here are the second twelve outstanding women in the recruitment industry, in alphabetical order by first name.

Angela Anasis Angela joined my division at Recruitment Solutions in 1998 as a graduate and immediately impressed me with her positive, team-oriented attitude. Rarely without a smile on her face, Angela learned quickly and rapidly built excellent relationships both inside and outside the company. For the past fifteen years, Angela has been a key senior executive for Randstad, initially locally and now for the Asia Pacific. Angela currently is Randstad’s Executive GM, HR Consulting, Talent Solutions, Randstad Sourceright (ANZ) and Director – Client Solutions (APAC). Angela is a regular contributor to industry events and, twenty-three years later Angela is a model for the career you can carve out in the recruitment industry when you start at the bottom and work hard to create and take opportunities that come your way.

Clare McCartin: Like Angela, I also witnessed Clare’s first day as a recruiter. Also like Angela, Clare was a graduate in her early twenties who quickly stood out as smart, competent, and coachable.  Also like Angela, Clare’s career progression is a motivating example of what you can accomplish in the recruitment industry. After 13 years with her first employer, Clare was enticed to move to the expanding Davidson Group as the GM of the Victorian Executive & Boards division. In 2017 Clare was promoted to run that division nationally. Clare has written a range of recruitment and leadership articles for many publications including Women’s Agenda. Clare is also a popular panel member and speaker at recruitment and leadership conferences. In 2016 Clare won the SARA (Australia) Recruiter of the Year award.

Dita Georgiadis Having completed her Arts/Law degree at Monash Uni Dita found that practising law wasn’t much fun so after six years she joined Lawstaff (IPA) as a legal recruiter and quickly progressed into leadership roles, while concurrently completing an MBA. I first met Dita 15 years ago, shortly after she opened her own recruitment agency. After a short time as general legal recruiter Dita decided to specialise in partner recruitment and, after merging with The Partner Institute in 2011, has developed this specialisation to the extent that Dita’s mentoring and merger & acquisition are highly valued by progressive mid-tier law firms, nationally. In an industry that is the very model of pale, stale, and male conservatism, Dita’s perceptive and intuitive mind, high EQ, and deep commercial knowledge are nationally recognised in her market.

Deb Davis Deb is one of the most outstanding female entrepreneurs in the local recruitment industry. Originally from Wagga Wagga, Deb had a very successful career in retail, rising to senior national leadership roles at Just Jeans in the early 1990s. Leaving to start her own training business, Deb quickly discovered that there was even more demand in helping clients with their recruitment challenges. The business grew rapidly, initially through self-employed mothers working part-time from home. In February 2005 Frontline Retail Recruitment became Frontline Recruitment Group and the franchise model successfully expanded into hospitality recruitment. Subsequently, franchises in health, education, construction have been successfully sold and operated. Australian locations now number 31 with three in New Zealand. US-based recruitment franchisor, Express Employment Professionals, one of the largest staffing companies in the United States, completed their purchase of Frontline last May and Deb remains involved as a non-Executive Director as well as an active franchisee.

Erica Westbury Erica co-founded Norwest Recruitment (in Baulkham Hills, Sydney) nearly twenty years ago with fellow Recruitment Solutions alumni Edwina Gatt and Anthony Price. Norwest Recruitment has won many awards and expanded its recruitment services within Sydney (Southwest Recruitment) and also into HR consulting. Erica has been a judge for the Telstra Business Awards and was, most recently, Chairperson of the children’s charity Foster Care Angels. Like many women on my list, Erica isn’t a person you are likely to read about in Shortlist or see at an industry awards night however her ambition, passion, and skill have underpinned Erica’s huge impact in her local community.

Eva Grabner After a highly successful fifteen-year career in the leisure and hospitality sector, including ten years with Royal Caribbean Cruises, based out of Florida, Eva started her new career as a recruiter, based in Cairns, in 2008. This June Eva will celebrate her own company’s ninth birthday. Still based in Cairns, Eva’s business recruits executive roles nationally alongside providing a range of HR consulting services, predominantly to clients in FNQ. Eva is the classic tale of the Irish migrant made good, who had to overcome plenty of challenges along the way, and who is now a much-respected businesswoman in her adopted hometown and beyond.

Fiona Harland Fiona and her husband, John, are well-known identities in the New Zealand recruitment industry with their business ERG Recruitment and long-term involvement with the RCSA. What is less well known is Fiona’s phenomenal work in the community.  Fiona is a vocal supporter of the Youth Employability framework developed by Comet Auckland designed as a link between education, business. Until recently she was a Trustee for the Youth Development Trust Hawkes Bay operated Under Licence from Graeme Dingle Foundation. Fiona also spent 14 months, on a weekly basis, at Auckland Women’s Correctional Facility as a mentor for incarcerated New Zealand women working closely with Annah Stretton’s foundation RAW Reclaim Another Women. Fi is another outstanding example of our industry leaders giving back to the community and making a difference with those that face the biggest challenges in successfully entering, and staying in, the workforce.

Jan Kavanagh Jan is another high-achieving woman recruitment agency owner who flies under the radar. Jan and I were colleagues back in the Recruitment Solutions days of 20 years ago and I quickly came to respect her leadership. Starting her own Melbourne-based recruitment agency in 2003 Jan expanded into a range of consulting services. Jan started a division, Optimum Talent, to assist STEM female graduates with telling their stories, building their confidence, and improving their interview and job search skills. The division has expanded to provide coaching programs for female leaders. Optimum is now best-known for recruiting STEM roles, specialising in gender-balanced shortlists.

Jo Knox: For over twenty years Jo has been ground zero for the distribution of industry news via her journalism, and now ownership, of industry news website Shortlist. It’s hard to imagine a bigger eyes-glazing-over daily challenge than sorting through an Inbox filled everyday with recruitment agencies and industry vendors all pumping up their latest appointment, new office, client win, great financial results, or award win. That’s before the IQ-numbing task of interviewing an outside-of-industry pale stale male CEO or Chairman who is running a publicly-listed recruitment agency (or vendor)  that’s performing terribly (or raising their prices and assuring you that customers are ‘happy’ and ‘understand’ said price rises). Jo truly deserves our gratitude that she has the skills, patience and good grace to do all of this so we can stay up with the industry news (and I can have an invaluable resource for many of my blogs on said companies and their stale pale male executives).

Sophie Robertson: Sophie’s journey in the recruitment industry approximates mine with 15 years as a recruiter, and leader of recruiters, subsequently moving into training, coaching and advisory within the industry. Sophie’s book Secrets To Running A Lucrative Temp Desk is the only temp-specific recruitment book I know of and has been frequently mentioned by clients of mine as an excellent and trusted resource. Sophie has been an unstinting giver to the industry with her PEARL mentoring and presence at RSCA events, as both a presenter and attendee, always in the spirit of raising the standards and standing, of our industry

Tracey Montgomery Tracey started her recruitment career with Julia Ross and in eight years went from rookie to Queensland state manager before leaving in 2004 to start her own recruitment agency. For the past 17 years, Tracey has continued to enhance her reputation as an outstanding recruiter and her company has thrived on filling difficult-to-fill office roles. What has elevated Tracey in my eyes is her willingness and courage to blog openly and honestly about her journey to motherhood, via IVF, and the challenges since, via her personal blog Champagne Days. Popular news site Mamamia has republished many of Tracey’s blogs.

Siobhan Beasley McDonald:  After five years of senior administrative work on the west coast of Ireland Siobhan headed to Australia and started her recruitment career with Manpower on the Gold Coast in 2011. Less than two years later, Sam Hazledine, owner of New Zealand medical recruiter MedRecruit hired Siobhan for his first Australian office. Eight years later Siobhan is the MedRecruit Country Manager for Australia having overseen the growth of the business to over twenty consultants and a reputation as a hard-working and inspiring leader. Again, Ireland’s loss is Australian recruitment’s gain.


Even after thirty years in the local recruitment industry I still know only a tiny fraction of the great women in our industry.

I would be keen to hear your nominations for publication in a future blog.

If you would like to highlight an outstanding woman you know then please send your nomination, along with three or four sentences about their accomplishments to me via [email protected]



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Dita Georgiadis

Thank you Ross for the mention and also your presence in our industry. Personally I really appreciated your coaching in the early years and your friendship ever since.

Erica Westbury

Thank you Ross, that means a lot. There are so many incredible women in our industry – it’s a place where women can shine. It’s disappointing our numbers aren’t at least equal at C Suite though. Thank you for shining the light on it. Something for us to work at.

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