Samantha-Leigh Hayward

Founder, Recruiters Unite

1. Who was your favourite teacher at school? What did you learn from that person?

Ms Sands and I was in standard 3, which is grade 5 now. She was super strict and I think we were all pretty scared of her, but I remember that she had tough conversations with us. Conversations around what sexual abuse was, not feeling comfortable with an adult or anyone in fact, and where to draw your boundaries. It was such a strong foundation for me as a young girl.

2. At what age did you become an adult? What happened, and how did you know?

When my daughter was born, I was 27. You get this overwhelming feeling that you are now fully responsible for another life and you just think, what the fuck, now I need to adult.

3. What habit or behaviour or belief have you recently acquired? Why is it now in your life?

I’ve recently committed to meditating daily. I’ve been trying for years but never stuck to it. I’m now 12 days into my 21 day program and can honestly feel a shift. A little calmer, a little more present and I crave that 20 min alone time in the mornings now. I wanted to make a shift in June, almost like a winter prep and meditation was on my list.

4. Name a well-known person you admire and explain why you hold them high esteem?

My biggest crush at the moment is with Gerda Steyn. She is a South African runner, just winning the comrades. I absolutely love how sincere she is. Down-to-earth, kind yet unbelievably brilliant and she hasn’t allowed any of that to affect her ego. After running 87km’s – she turns back and goes to greet all her fans. I mean, what a gem! And you must watch her run – simply stunning.

5. What’s one misconception people generally have about you?

That I’m an extrovert. I’m really not, which is absolutely bizarre considering I am in recruitment. I have so much social anxiety, my palms sweat, I get flustered in small talk and am anxious all day knowing I need to network or go out and meet new people. I do enjoy it, but it makes me soooo nervous.

6. What personality trait has got you in the most trouble? What kind of trouble does it get you in?

For speaking my mind with no filter. I think I’ve lost a lot of acquaintances who could have been good friends if I filtered my words. It used to get me into all sorts of arguments but as I’ve matured I have learnt to slow down, think before I speak and ask myself if it’s valuable to the next person – if it’s just my opinion and not really asked for, I generally shut up. (Not after tequila though.)

7. In current industry conversation, what is an example of ‘making a mountain out of a molehill’?

I could be really silly for saying this, but I think AI. It’s another tool, it’s another step in our evolution – it’s like when computers were invented, or email, or cell phones. The world isn’t going to end, humans aren’t going to lose all work. We adapt, we evolve and we work with it.

8) When was the last time you felt like an outsider in a group? What/How did you learn?

Most of the time I feel like an outsider. I’m quite a loner actually. It used to bug me in my younger days but now I’ve embraced that I’m not for everyone and I love my own company.

9) WhatApp or tech product have you most recently fallen in love with?

I just love Yaga. It’s an app that allows you to create your very own branded store where you sell your 2nd hand goodies. I’m really into thrifting, not wasting and recycling and what I don’t donate, I sell in my little store. And it’s so easy to use and pretty.

10) What would be the perfect gift that someone could buy you right now?

A plane ticket. I love travelling! I haven’t for ages as I have a crazy fear of flying but working on it, so ready for my next flight.

11) If you could witness one moment in history which one would it be and why?

To watch Queen live at Live Aid in 1985. Well because I think he is the greatest performer the world has ever seen. Love him!

12. Which fictional villain do you find yourself sympathising with most? Why?

The Joker. Ah my heart just breaks for him. He didn’t have a good upbringing, suffers from mental health issues and was then teased and ridiculed. If there is one thing I hate, it’s bullying.

13. What’s the best piece of professional advice you’ve ever received? Who gave it and when?

“Stop comparing yourself to your competitors and find your own unique voice”. Honestly, I cannot for the life of me remember who told me this, but it changed how I matured into my career.

14. Can you give an example of a time when you had to learn the lesson the hard way?

OMG, for 10 years running my own agency, in my 20’s with no mentorship or guidance. Every single business lesson I learnt the hard way.

Cash is King.

Business isn’t personal. (well that’s evolved for sure.)

If you hate your job, you need to get out. Eventually you’ll have a mental breakdown.

If you don’t respect yourself, don’t expect your staff to.

I could probably just keep going here. But that will do.

15. What role do you find yourself playing when you join a newly formed team? Can you explain why this happens?

Counsellor. I love listening. I love being trusted and I love for people to know they can depend on me. I’ll always take the time to speak to my team members individually, get to know them personally and form a trust bond so they know they can always depend on me.

I think as a recruiter, this is natural.

16. Have you ever been the weakest member of a team? How did you handle it?

I don’t think I can say the weakest, but I’ve certainly been in a team where I wasn’t the most knowledgeable around certain topics and I could learn a lot from my team members. I embrace the position I’m in and do my utmost to become a leach. How best to learn than to be surrounded by people smarter than you.

17. What’s one industry challenge you don’t actually think will ever get solved?

People disliking recruiters and talking crap about them on social media platforms. Unfortunately in an industry that doesn’t have any barrier to entry or too many governing standards, it allows for the cowboys to come in and wreck the reputation. But like everything in life, and in any industry, there are always the assholes. That’s life.

18. Who In our industry would make a great Prime Minister (or equivalent role in your country) ?

Mitch Sullivan. I just love how direct he is. He takes no shit and calls out all the shoddy work. He has my vote.

19. If you could add a question for the next person to answer, what would it be?

Why do you think alcohol is legal and so freely available if it’s a drug, worse affects than cocaine. (I believe)

20. Who would you recommend to do the next 20 Questions With … ?

Mitch Sullivan. I think he is the underdog in the recruitment world. I would love for the whole industry to follow him.

Thank you to Samantha-Leigh Hayward for taking 20 Questions for The Brainfood Tribune. Make sure to follow Samantha on LinkedIn.

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