Melissa Venner, Head of Organisational Development at Core Talent

Challenging stereotypes in business and raising the bar (along with performance metrics)

My parents were aged 15 and 16 when they had me – living in a rough part of North Manchester in an interracial relationship. It wasn’t on the cards for me to go to uni, but as a questioner I always wanted to know “Why”, so I did a degree in Biomedical Science. After three years of independent living, I didn’t want to go backwards, so I thought: ‘How can I make as much money as possible quickly, legitimately and legally?’

Fortunately, a graduate recruiter called and asked if I’d ever considered recruitment. The short answer was “No”, but I like talking to people and realised it could be an option.

My very first job was with a FTSE 250 company – recruiting in engineering for Oil & Gas. It was a male-dominated world with challenging expectations, but I’m plucky and a grafter; my grit and enthusiasm soon began to pay off in the shape of company cars and holidays. Within two years, I was one of the company’s top billers in the whole of the UK.

Opportunity knocked… the chance to relocate to Australia and help build a new contracting division. My parents, who have sacrificed so much and always supported my learning, said: “Go for it!”

I loved it, but I came to realise that what I was obsessed with was developing other consultants who had raw potential but no self-belief. I made the leap into Learning & Development (L&D) four years ago – taking a neuroscientific approach influenced by my degree. Knowing how people receive, store and recall information – as well as the psychology around changing behaviour – was a massive advantage! I won an Institute of Recruitment Professionals Award and was named ‘CIPD Outstanding Student of the Year’.

Now at Core Talent, I’ll use my diverse business experience and knowledge of all things ‘development’ to help transform the business on an individual and company-wide scale. The scientist part of me wants to measure productivity, engagement and staff retention, point to a big spike on a graph and say: “I did that!”

I’ve got the best job in the world – empowering every person to be the best they can be. It doesn’t even feel like work!

Core Talent