Planning for the New World: A Q&A with Mark Atkinson
Blogs 8th March 2019 3 minutes read
Happy International Women’s Day 2019 from all of us here at Green Park! And what better way to celebrate than to hear about the inspirational rise of our board member, Jo Sweetland.
Now a Managing Partner heading up our Private Practice, Jo Sweetland is recognised as one of the leading Human Resources (HR) recruitment specialists in the UK and internationally.
Though her journey to the top hasn’t always been easy, she’s got there by being true to herself and always giving her best.
A promising start
Jo herself admits that she fell into the industry. After studying Geography and History, she planned to go into Marketing, following in her father’s footsteps. Instead, she found herself considering a role in recruitment. Although it wasn’t what she’d envisaged, it proved to be the perfect fit for her high energy, results-focused personality – and a launch pad for an exceptional 20-year career.
Over the next six years, Jo moved through roles of increasing complexity, gaining experience across multiple industries and functional areas. And while she learnt a lot in this period, she continued to search for a business that reflected her values and provided a platform where she could truly be herself.
That’s when Green Park founder, Raj Tulsiani, approached Jo and asked her to join the Green Park team. In 2007, she became the start-up and challenger brand’s fifth recruit, focusing on financial services recruitment.
“The first six months were really tough!” says Jo. “An ambitious start-up, Green Park ran at 100 miles per hour. There were times I asked myself if I would make it, yet, something about the passion and ambition was addictive and I knew this was where I wanted it to be.”
After several intense months spent establishing the new practice, Jo’s hard work began paying off with the placement of five candidates. “It was a wild but brilliant ride,” says Jo, “and everything’s taken off from there.”
More hard work followed with Jo branching out into Telcoms, Media & Technology. In 2009, her efforts resulted in a promotion to Partner. It was at this point that CEO Raj, having watched Jo’s steady progress, suggest she specialise in HR recruitment. Though reluctant at first, Jo enjoyed “looking at the people agenda within business” and rapidly realised she had a natural flare for this. Soon, she had set up a brand new HR practice.
Within three or four years, Jo’s HR Practice had been recognised as one of the leading HR interim providers in the UK; a big achievement. In 2013, Jo’s personal efforts were rewarded when she was named IMA Interim Consultant of the Year at the IRP REC awards. To date, Jo is the only HR recruiter to have won the accolade.
A new direction
Towards the end of 2017, CEO Raj Tulsiani asked Jo to take over Green Park’s Private Sector Practice. She agreed – but on the condition that she could have free rein to build her team. He agreed and Jo expanded her team, boosted revenue by 35% and smashed all her targets.
Meanwhile, behind the scenes, Jo was helping CEO Raj to strategically drive the business forward and in 2018, Jo was made a member of the Board.
“It’s what I always wanted to achieve. I’m very ambitious and this is a business that encourages entrepreneurial thinking. They listened to my ideas and gave me equal measures of support and autonomy, helping me to reach my goal.”
Mixing motherhood and a career
If building an outstanding career wasn’t enough of a challenge, Jo has also built a family, with two children under the age of ten. Though a high responsibility job means it’s challenging, Green Park’s flexible working culture means Jo has been able to manage the roles of mother and Board member simultanioursly.
“I love my job and I love my kids. I want to show them what a successful woman can be like.”
There’s no doubt Jo is a great role model for her two daughters, but she’s also a fantastic example for any woman with big ambitions. Jo’s advice for them is simple: “Work hard, enjoy it and be focused.” But at the heart of her philosophy lies the determination to be herself and trust her natural instincts:
“You don’t have to be the person that someone else wants you to be. Work hard, be strong and be a decent person. You don’t have to change who you are to succeed.”