Marketing Manager Tom “Hersh” Hershenson interviews Paul Shephard, UK Engagement Manager for ElevateFlex, about his journey to Elevate, his experience as part of the ElevateFlex team, and how Diversity and Inclusion impact his work with ElevateFlex talent.
How did you get into the field of legal recruiting?
Fresh out of law school in 2010, I proceeded to complete my postgraduate legal studies before embarking on what I thought was going to be a Harvey Specter-esque high-flying career in law. After working for several years in private practice, I quickly realized that the reality of law did not quite match the dramatized version, so I decided to pursue an alternative legal career.
I was not quite sure what I wanted to do, but I knew I wanted to put my legal knowledge and background to good use. This led to working in legal recruitment – which I initially saw as a sort of stop-gap measure while I figured out what truly motivated me. Quite conveniently, I discovered that the answer was legal recruitment.
Once you decided on legal recruiting, what was your path to ElevateFlex?
I spent a few years in an agency before moving in-house with Pinsent Masons' Vario division in 2018. There, I worked on providing flexible legal resources to their clients and internally for the firm. My primary focus was on the needs of their Banking and Finance practice group. I then joined ElevateFlex in November 2019.
What do you enjoy most about working with the ElevateFlex team?
What I enjoy most about working with the ElevateFlex team is that we are a real team. In practically any job, you have peaks and troughs in your workload. I know that on my team, there isn't a single person that wouldn't be right there to support a teammate during those periods of heaviest demand. There is a fantastic work ethic, and everybody is genuinely dedicated to the ElevateFlex cause. There's a commitment to each of us always making sure we are doing the right thing.
How does the strong team spirit impact the culture of ElevateFlex?
Working as part of a great team encourages a collaborative culture. Everyone regularly and consistently undertakes smaller projects in addition to the "business as usual" work. This cultivates an environment of sharing ideas, perspectives, and innovative approaches to work.
What do you enjoy most about working with the ElevateFlex Talent?
I get to speak with different ElevateFlex Talent every day, and there is always something new. Whether that is assisting them in finding a new contract, general chit-chat about the current market (which has been very interesting in these times!), or helping them to navigate issues they encounter. This sort of interaction is what I have always loved about working in legal recruitment. I think that my background helps me readily relate to what they're going through – whether it's sharing success stories or hearing about their frustrations.
How does the effort for diversity and inclusion impact ElevateFlex?
Diversity and inclusion are values that Elevate genuinely champions and pushes for behind the scenes. A diverse Talent force is a great Talent force. I see this first-hand in our ElevateFlex internal team: we are all different in our own ways, and that is fantastic. We replicate this with our Talent, and the commitment to diversity and inclusion means that we are always learning from them while at the same time educating our customers. Talent A and Talent B may have identical professional credentials, yet the differences in their personalities and backgrounds mean that each will bring a different approach to a role. I enjoy seeing the successes of different kinds of Talent in a particular assignment.
How has COVID-19 impacted your work?
Even before the pandemic, ElevateFlex was a true pioneer as far as the future of work. The organization is a strong advocate of the so-called "New Normal." I joined ElevateFlex as the first (and currently only!) member of the team in the Midlands who was fully remote (though I did travel to meetings when necessary). Contrast this with my previous job, where I was working in an office at least four days every week. Working remotely has revolutionized the way I see business culture and opened my eyes to the concept of "I will work where I need to work", geographically speaking. If a customer requires me on-site, that's where I'll be. If I am heads-down with a customer's new requirement, I will be in my home office. If I am working collaboratively with my team, I will be on a video conference at my breakfast bar (or in the garden, depending on the weather!). Working remotely has not adversely affected my productivity; in fact, I have come to realize just how much time I wasted in an office setting compared to how much I get through in a day working remotely. ElevateFlex championed this approach even before COVID-19 became an issue. It demonstrates how we are leaders in pushing forward the future direction of work.
What has been the most surprising part of working with ElevateFlex?
Two things stand out. First, we celebrate everyone's achievements. On multiple occasions, my work has been praised not just by my direct management but also by senior leadership. I think this vividly demonstrates the genuine, caring ethos that exists throughout Elevate as a business. It is a refreshing change compared to organizations where the only time someone gets singled out is when things go wrong!
Second, we genuinely listen to each other. Despite being a multi-national business with over 1200 employees globally, time and again, there has been an opportunity for me to make suggestions and challenge processes. Everyone is receptive to questions like, "Why do we do things this way?" and more than willing to discuss things within the peer group and then look at implementing innovative approaches. All this with absolutely no red-tape. We are all encouraged to innovate, challenge, and be creative with how we get things done.
Any closing thought on your experience at ElevateFlex?
To pick up on a point above related to diversity and inclusion, this is something that I am passionate about because of my background. I did not attend grammar school, I didn't attend a red-brick university, and I didn't get straight A's or a First Class degree. I come from a completely working-class background. Despite this, ElevateFlex welcomed me with open arms and recognized that my skills, strengths, and experiences are what matter. ElevateFlex has the same philosophy with our Talent. We see everyone as human, with each person having a unique set of strengths, no matter what their background. This human-natured approach and visionary understanding of people is yet another reason that I am proud to work for ElevateFlex.
Diversity and inclusion are values that Elevate genuinely champions and pushes for behind the scenes. A diverse Talent force is a great Talent force. I see this first-hand in our ElevateFlex internal team: we are all different in our own ways, and that is fantastic.