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Hays Australia is a top-quality business.

It’s not just a high-performing business within the recruitment sector, its performance is top tier across all industries in Australia.

My respect for Hays is not just borne out of my long-term interest in, and review of, their financial performance, it’s because I have come to know a few senior Hays executives, past and present, and, over time, made my own judgement about their capabilities and personal qualities as people, not just recruitment executives.

The two most influential of those Hays executives draw curtains on their respective careers at the world’s sixth-largest recruitment and staffing business, tomorrow.

When I made enquiries at Hays Australia earlier this week, seeking comment on the departure of both Managing Director of Hays ANZ, Nick Deligiannis and Sydney-based Hays Global Customer Experience Director, Jacky Carter, Matthew Dickason, CEO Asia Pacific of Hays emailed me the following statement:

“Both colleagues have made significant contributions to Hays over the last three decades and I feel privileged to have worked closely with both Nick and Jacky.

“Nick has been the driving force behind the growth and success of Hays in Australia and New Zealand (ANZ) for many years. He recently celebrated thirty years at Hays and eleven years as Managing Director of Hays ANZ.  During Nick’s tenure, he inspired and developed many successful leaders in our region, played a huge role in positively impacting our economies and helped our customers achieve their goals and career ambitions. 

“His collaborative leadership has also been crucial to the substantial growth of Hays’ RPO and MSP business in ANZ. By encouraging this team and our agency business to work so well together, he has allowed Hays to focus externally on our enterprise clients, and the results speak for themselves. 

“His exceptional leadership and stewardship is recognised throughout our industry and it has been a privilege and honour to have been involved in his incredible career.   

“On behalf of us all at Hays, we wish Nick all the best for the future and thank him for his immense contribution to the recruitment industry and Hays ANZ. 

“Many of us at Hays have been lucky enough to work with Jacky over the years. Jacky started with Hays in 1987 in Accountancy Personnel in London. In all the years since, she has consistently been nothing short of amazing. Having moved from London to Sydney, Jacky was instrumental in establishing or running so many parts of the business, both in ANZ and globally – from Ops to Enterprise to marketing to innovation and customer experience, to mention a few.

“Recently, Jacky led Hays’ global technology and digital innovation strategy. She has constantly challenged and reimagined what technological innovation can do to improve the user experience and set the standard for creative thinking in this area.

“Jacky is an absolute fountain of knowledge and an inspiration to all.  She’s also an amazing human. On behalf of us all at Hays, thank you Jacky. You will be missed.

“We extend our deepest thanks to both Nick and Jacky, and wish them both all the best for their retirements.”

When I contacted Deligiannis a couple of weeks ago seeking an interview he declined, sending me the following text “Thanks for offering but I’ll respectfully pass on the Q&A. It’s a bit self indulgent which is just not me and all the focus in any case is on looking forward. I’ve had magnificent acknowledgements internally on my history at Hays, impact and contribution which I’m appreciative of and thankful for.”

The recruiter in me wouldn’t take no for an answer so I texted him three questions anyway. Deligiannis relented and emailed me thoughtful responses to each question.

Ross: What have you enjoyed most about your time at Hays?

Nick: I am extremely proud of what we’ve achieved in Hays ANZ over the journey. We have a tried and tested formula and strategy for growing our business whilst always looking to evolve and innovate. It’s allowed us to build out the scale of the business enormously over the years which has led to achieving unrivalled results along the way. But by far the aspect I’ve enjoyed the most is our people. The Hays culture is so unique, just a super place to work, full of great people with whom I’ve built lifelong relationships that will endure forever.

Ross: What will you miss the most about working at Hays?

Nick: That’s easy, the people. Our people are the lifeblood and heartbeat of our business. I love the combination of the many people we have with great experience and know-how, many who have been with us for literally decades, coupled with the constant flow of new recruits we bring into the business that add great freshness, exuberance and energy into the mix. A formidable combination.

Ross: What are your intentions for the future?

Nick: I’m going to take time out to spend more time with family and friends and do things that I’ve always wanted to do but had limited time to do! Travel will be a big part of it but I suspect I’ll be itching to get my teeth into something else before too long and it will probably be back in my other true love, football (soccer) at some point in the future.

I also asked Deligiannis to comment on Jacky Carter’s contribution to the Hays culture and results, and he offered the following:

Jacky is one of the truly remarkable people of Hays with superpowers that are unprecedented. She is the most knowledgeable person in recruitment that I’ve met over my more than 30 years in the industry which is saying something! Her impact on Hays has been profound. She has done just about every job in the place over the many years and in the last decade has been instrumental in just about every aspect of the digitisation of Hays. Above all she is a great human being, an inspiration, role model and mentor to so many in the Hays world globally.

Prior to her current role, Carter was Head of eCRM – Global (2011 – 2015) and Asia Pacific marketing director for nearly 16 years. In 2019 Staffing Industry Analysts named Carter as one of the Global Power 150 Women in Staffing.

I also contacted a few Hays alumni for a perspective on both Deligiannis and Carter that comes from distance; due to either the passing of time since the working relationship ended and/or the distance of not being a direct report of either.

Martina McDermott was Business Director for Hays Australia Life Sciences when she left in June 2019 to join Allianz Australia where she is Senior People Attraction Advisor.

McDermott offered this when I contacted her about her experiences with both Deligiannis and Carter.

“I had a lot of time for both of them. Both are amazing operators and in my time were highly respected across the business. I wasn’t on the senior leadership team so only able to comment from my own observations and feelings. Nick (was) very charismatic. He was based in Melbourne and when he came to Sydney (he) would always take time to walk the floor and come over and check in and connect, acknowledging and thanking you for your hard work and contribution to the business. He’d always take time with people regardless of seniority, from newbies through to people who’d been in the business for years, very thoughtful, always remembered personal details about people. He was very across the business and had his finger on the pulse. Very down to earth, warm and approachable and a fantastic leader.

Jacky had already been with Hays for over 20 years when I joined, our paths didn’t cross until she moved onto the recruitment floor (having) moved out of the marketing role. She also travelled a lot so (I) didn’t get to be around her as much as I’d have liked, but I’d say (she was) a thought leader in the recruitment space and led the way for Innovative technologies impacting how we recruited, always keeping Hays at the forefront with cutting edge technology that helped the recruiters do their jobs and stay ahead of the competition. Like Nick, Jacky knows the business inside out. Extremely customer centric and focused on the candidate experience and like Nick, very down to earth, straight speaker, and great sense of humour. She’s super supportive and empathic. Jacky doesn’t walk past a situation where she can help. I recall one day when I was dealing with a challenging situation on the phone while at my desk just outside her office at the time and Jacky stepped in with great words of advice and wisdom. A very wise lady.”

Between 2001 and 2017  Pete Noblet worked at Hays Australia and at the time of his departure was a Senior Regional Director – Aus, NZ and Asia. Since 2017 Noblet has held senior roles in Interpro and Finite and, most recently he left Hudson Australia having been MD – Hudson Technology, Projects and Transformation Aus & NZ.

Noblet and I first met over a decade ago and we have stayed in contact, often discussing industry issues and the latest news from Hays. When I contacted him earlier in the week seeking comment about his experience working with both Deligiannis and Carter, he was more than happy to oblige.

“Both Nick and Jacky were ever present during my time at Hays – nearly 16 years. And fair to say that their influence on the business was huge. For me personally, Nick was a force of energy. His ability to get in to an office, engage with people and ensure people felt he really cared about their business, or their own desk, or how their day was going was phenomenal and certainly something I learned when leading teams interstate or internationally. Being present is an oft-forgotten leadership skill. And his ability to engage at all levels was exemplary. 

I think it says a lot about how you get on with someone if they remain an influence after you leave a business. Jacky for me was always someone who would provide a different perspective on things – would always challenge established thinking and challenge you to consider all options, not just the first one. And that has continued even after leaving Hays. For me, the help and advice she provided on how to get innovative and to influence others’ thinking was precious in my own development. And at the end of the day, you want to work with people who make you better – and Jacky does that. 

I, of course, wish them both well, and am content to know I will still remain in touch with both.” 

When I joined Accountancy Personnel (later known as Hays) in London in early 1989, Jacky Carter had already been in the business for nearly two years.

I didn’t get to know Jacky until she moved to Sydney shortly after I returned to Australia when we were both involved with the NSW NAPC (which merged with the IPC to form the RCSA) in the early 1990s. It was easy to like somebody so competent, committed and good-natured.

We have remained in touch intermittently over the past three decades and when Jacky emailed me the news of her departure from Hays I was intrigued to read that her “side hustle” of “building inclusive cultures” was one she was looking forward to dedicating more time to. I am looking forward to seeing what this brings.

I originally know Nick Deligiannis from a face-to-face interview we had shortly after he was elevated to the top job at Hays Australia in 2012. A few years later we met for lunch. Subsequently, we have exchanged occasional text messages and phone calls.

However, I gained a small insight into Nick’s qualities that others have already referred to in the tributes above, when he responded to my text message seeking an interview for his blog. We had spoken two months previously when I called him to confirm the rumours that had reached me about his imminent retirement from Hays. I was at Melbourne Airport on my way to Hobart to see my mother, when he returned my call.

In the ensuing conversation, I shared with Nick my 84-year-old mother’s recent cancer diagnosis.

Nine weeks later, after, no doubt, many hundreds (if not into the thousands) of conversations with hundreds of different people in those weeks leading up to his 30 June departure from Hays, Deligiannis included in his text message “Hope your mum is doing ok all the best there.”

There’s the quality of the man in that single, short sentence – remembering, from many weeks before, a matter of intense personal concern that an acquaintance had shared with him; an acquaintance he barely knows.

Hays Australia has become a top-quality business because it’s led by top-quality people like Nick Deligiannis and Jacky Carter.

Thanks for your leadership Nick and thanks for your leadership, Jacky.

We are much better for each of you having made a huge contribution to the credibility and development of the Australian recruitment industry, let alone your respective contributions to Australia’s largest and most profitable recruitment agency.

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A curious run of global executive departures at Hays

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John Borneman

Absolutely wonderful and incredibly inspiring people. I have worked closer with Nick over they years, and echo all the sentiments above. Very charismatic and one of the most engaging public speakers I have seen. But best of all he takes a genuine interest in his staff. Superb innings.

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