Özlem Simsek joined the Robert Walters Group in 2005 as Senior Consultant, starting in a small team of three people.
She was given the challenge to launch the Group’s junior interim brand Walters People in Belgium and successfully developed her leadership skills which led her to be appointed to Director of Walters People Belgium in 2014.
As Managing Director Belgium, she is today responsible for both the Walters People interim activities and the Robert Walters permanent and interim management business across Belgium.
According to Özlem, she owes her success within the Robert Walters Group to be based on her continuous focus on the following four key factors: people, culture, long-term relationships and easy but clear processes.
Focus 1: People
Özlem: "The name Walters People was chosen for a particular reason: our business is all about people. We pay a great deal of importance on people’s needs and goals both when trying to place candidates and in the personal development of our own teams. We owe our success to our people, so I have always made sure to be very closely involved in onboarding new employees, from interns to assistants and recruitment consultants.
Education and continuous learning is one of our priorities. Here as well I make sure to ensure staff members have been given appropriate trainings and regularly have role-plays with consultants to help them develop the necessary skills. Employees learn from day one what the Walters People brand stands for and how to build their own success story. And we do not limit ourselves to Belgium alone: we have set up an international training programme for new employees and successful managers from different countries. One of our mottos is not 'learn from the best' for no reason, we find that having successful trainers and coaches is the ideal way for staff members to best develop their skillsets. Our people know that their ambition will be rewarded and that Walters People can provide them the opportunity to further develop their careers."
Focus 2: Culture
Özlem: "I have since the beginning strived to make sure my people come into the office with a smiling face in the morning. We work very hard, but we also take time for each other, eat together, do activities after work together and communicate very openly with one another.
Working at Walters People is not just 'work', we are one big family: we have fun and laugh a lot, but we are also there for each other in difficult times. For example, when a junior consultant is experiencing difficulties in a particular assignment, more experienced colleagues will jump in to give them advice and guidance. Knowing that they can always have a team or manager to come to for help, helps them develop their self-confidence. It’s also a great way for everyone to be able to develop their coaching and leadership skills."
Focus 3: Building long-term relationships
"In order to be successful as an organisation it is vital to build a relationship of trust with your contacts. Establishing long-term relationships based on honesty and transparency is something we aim for both with our candidates and clients. We have known the majority of our customers for years and it is always such a rewarding feeling to see them trust in our services.
We also guide our candidates very closely: from their first interview to regular catch-ups once they have been placed. We make sure they are happy in their new role and are always there to provide them with further guidance. Seeing our candidates evolve and establish their career is very fulfilling and has helped us develop close ties with them both professionally and personally. Many of our former candidates also go on to become clients which is the perfect proof that making the effort to build substantial long-term relationships works,” says Özlem.
Focus 4: Easy but clear processes
Özlem: "Why make things difficult when they can be easy? 'Keep it simple' has been our recipe for success for years. After all, recruitment is all about speed, especially in today’s candidate-driven labour market. There is no time to waste on long and complicated internal processes as we want to quickly and productively place the right candidates for the right job. I therefore keep a very close eye on making sure our processes run as efficiently and smoothly as possible and interfere when necessary.
Over the years, we have also invested heavily in new systems and technologies that facilitate and simplify our work. In addition, we have always kept the focus on our core business: finance and business support. By doing so, our clients know what to expect from us and we do not lose ourselves in time-consuming secondary activities."
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