Charlotte Llewellyn joined Plural as the Talent Acquisition and Development Manager in July 2020. We sat down with her to ask about recruitment and opportunities at Plural. Update: since this interview Charlotte has been promoted to Head of HR & Talent.
Can you tell us a little about your role at Plural?
I joined Plural to help accelerate and professionalise its recruitment as well as to help build a really strong People team. Unlike many companies, we’re hiring at the moment – for Analysts and Interns in New York, and for Analysts in London and we’re looking to continue our strong growth, at all levels, over the next few years. I help support this by working with Tilly, our People & Engagement Manager, to provide a first-class HR service to applicants and employees. I lead on recruitment, Tilly leads on resourcing our projects and we collaborate on general HR and personal and professional development. As the firm grows, and new digital innovations change best practice, our roles will undoubtedly develop too.
What are your top three challenges in the current climate?
- The impact of COVID-19: HR professionals like us are having to help employees through big shifts in how and where they work. Remote working has highlighted the need for really good communication to keep people feeling connected. We have to work twice as hard to maintain the culture that makes us Plural. We’ll probably have higher applicant volumes in the next few months, too. On the flip side, that hopefully means we’ll see some really talented individuals applying.
- Digital innovation: It offers an opportunity to improve many processes, but it can be challenging to find the right providers in a crowded market, for example AI tools can often learn and entrench existing biases rather than removing them.
- Recruiting a diverse workforce: Plural has a very inclusive culture, which puts us in an excellent position. But the consulting industry itself isn’t the most representative. How can we react to a broader industry problem and make sure we can recruit the best people?
What were you doing before you joined?
I studied English and Medieval History at The University of St Andrews, then went into tax accountancy. I quickly realised it wasn’t for me, but I found HR and Recruitment fascinating. So, I moved to Boston Consulting Group as a Junior Recruiter and stayed for five years progressing to a Recruiter and then Senior Recruiter role, including completing my CIPD qualification.
What made you decide to go into professional services in general and strategy consulting in particular?
One of my personal drivers is continuous learning, and professional services has that focus. Everyone is driven, passionate and collaborative; they’re working towards a goal while sharing knowledge and learning from each other. In strategy consulting specifically, people are used to problem-solving – going into a situation, learning all about it and finding a solution. It pushes you to think in that way, even when you’re working on the support side. That suits my personal development style.
What makes Plural different?
It has a very growth-focused, collaborative and supportive culture, where everyone takes the time to help one another. A lot of staff at consulting firms are at client sites much of the time, but at Plural we’re all mainly based in the office. That really adds to the culture – you get to know everyone quickly. Our Partners are extremely approachable, too, and my manager – one of our Directors – is a great source of knowledge and encouragement.
What do you like most about it?
The people – everyone’s lovely: driven, passionate, friendly and approachable. There’s also a big emphasis on early responsibility and ownership, compared to larger firms where you might not manage anything early on in your career. At Plural, they trust and support you from the start. I’ve only been here a couple of months and we’ve already launched a new applicant tracking system. It’s a real differentiator and makes you feel you’ve personally achieved a significant amount.
How was the interview process?
It was wonderful, actually. My first interview, with my now manager, felt more like a collaborative brainstorm than an interview. It made a hugely positive impression and was a good indicator of what life at Plural would be like. The second interview was with some of our Partners, so it was more formal., but we also brainstormed a lot of ideas, and it demonstrated to me that Plural was somewhere I could make an impact.
I did a lot of preparation for both rounds of interviews. For the first, I read the materials on the website. For the second, I did some tailored research on things that were relevant from an HR and Recruitment perspective, based on topics covered in my first interview.
You’re currently recruiting for Analysts in London and New York. What does the process involve?
It’s really quick and easy to apply – you fill in a very short application form with your details, then attach your CV and click send. If you get through to the next stage, we’ll ask you to complete an online assessment. We’ll also ask you a few longer questions to find out a bit more about you and what motivates you.
If you’re invited to interview, the first round will be two interviews: a problem-solving exercise, such as a case study or market sizing, and some competency questions. The second round will be 1-2 interviews with a similar structure to your first round, only with more senior members of the team. (If it’s safe, we’ll try and do these interviews in person, but as of now, we’re expecting it to be a virtual process.) If you’re successful at the second round, you’ll get an offer and hopefully join us!
What advice would you give to applicants for analyst roles?
When we review your CV, we look for evidence that you’re driven and motivated. So it is important to articulate what you’ve achieved, don’t just describe what you did. We also recognise the last few months have been disruptive for many people, so if you were offered an internship that didn’t go ahead because of COVID-19, do still highlight that.
Tell us about your extracurricular activities, too, especially any positions of leadership or responsibility and don’t forget to be yourself. Your first role as a graduate is a really important decision, so make sure you ask questions if you’re invited to interview. You need to make sure we’re the right fit for you as much as the other way around.