The Drum's 'Unsung Heroes' series is a celebration of the people in the industry who slog hard behind the limelight for their companies, brands and clients. As they are seldom in the spotlight for their contribution to the success of campaigns, this is their time to shine.
A talent acquisition consultant with VML for the South East Asia region, Maya Ahmad knows that a bad hire for her agency will have dire consequences, which is why she has to ensure that she scrutinises every candidate that walks through the door. At times, she even dishes out job advice!
Why is your job important?
I am responsible for acquiring top talent across all levels, for VML’s offices in Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia and China.
How I like to see it though, is that I change people’s lives. It can be a long process – from calling, to scheduling meetings and emailing a potential candidate, but it feels great when you eventually secure someone their dream job.
Singapore is the regional hub for VML, so it is especially crucial that we build a first-class team here.
What is the hardest and stressful part of your job?
It would be finding the perfect candidate. But as no individual is perfect, I constantly remind myself that it is about hiring the best person for the job.
The costs of a bad hire can be incredibly high, so that comes in a close second.
What is the most rewarding part of your job?
The irony of it all is that, what I find most stressful also gives me great satisfaction. It’s incredibly rewarding when I successfully place someone in a role. Getting a new job can change someone’s life completely, and I get to play a massive part in that.
On a broader level, I get to impact organisational performance, and even culture.
First thing that comes to people’s minds when you tell them your job?
More often than not, they will ask me to help them find a job!
How would you correct/explain to them what you do then?
I will tell them that it is not that easy! That said, if they are serious about moving elsewhere, I will remind them to do the necessary research and speak to people already in the field, before making the leap.
Is there anything you want to change in your job?
We have a strong people-focused culture, and an impressive talent pool from diverse backgrounds.
This has enabled the agency to service regional and global needs for our clients, but we sometimes forget to keep an eye out for softer skills, like – good communication, teamwork, and adaptability.
Who is someone you want to emulate in your industry?
Sheryl Sandberg. She provides practical suggestions for managing and overcoming the challenges that arise on the ‘jungle gym’ of career advancement.
She combines personal anecdotes, hard data, and compelling research to cut through the layers of ambiguity and bias surrounding the lives and choices of working women.
If you weren’t a recruiter, what would you be?
A self-made entrepreneur. I’ve always wanted to be an inspiration for others, especially younger girls - like Kylie Jenner is!