Sophie Power

Talent Acquisition Lead, Looking for next challenge

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

Great Q! I think this answer would’ve been different if you’d asked me at age 15, ha. Today, I’d have to say my maths teacher. I struggled with maths big time, I’d be frustrated to tears with how hard I found it. In adulthood I was diagnosed with Dyscalculia – more commonly understood as “maths dyslexia” (although it is more complex than that). My maths teacher supported me hugely with getting my maths GCSE. She provided free extra 1:1 classes after school hours, and helped me with my coursework to take pressure off my exams. Without her support I wouldn’t have got my C grade: which would have made going to University impossible. My whole life would be different without her work.

Long answer there – but if she ever sees this, thank you Ms. Inglut.

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

24! I ended a 9 year relationship, moved out of our home, and about 10 months later got on a plane to Australia and went backpacking. Going straight from parents, to the uni bubble, to a partner had left me quite sheltered and going travelling around Australia on my own made me realise I needed the space to learn being comfortable on my own. I did random stuff like jeep safaris, scuba diving, tim tam slams, I worked in a hat shop… an amazing experience.

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

What self-care actually means to me: for the longest time I dismissed it as instagram-fluff… bubble baths, glasses of wine, face masks etc… they’re all great but when I was struggling with health issues and stress-related burnout earlier this year I had to strip back what self-care actually was for me and give that to myself. I’ve been making that a core part of my day-to-day life now. I’m not going back to where I was earlier this year.

4. What are the three books that you would unhesitatingly recommend to others? Why?

Oooooooooooh!!! I studied Comparative Literature at uni so it’s hard to narrow down, however here’s some books I like and have recommended recently

The Odyssey, by Homer. It’s my fave literary work. Every time I read it I learn something new. I’d recommend those approaching it for the first time to check out E. V. Rieu’s translation.

The Burnout, by Sophie Kinsella. I picked this up in an airport two weeks ago. It’s about a Shoreditch-based Tech Start-up leader who burns out and quits her job. Can’t imagine why that resonated.

The Collector, by John Fowles. A harrowing plot line, but threaded through the novel are themes of social class and injustice. My copy disappeared for a few years – I didn’t realise that the person I lent it out to passed it on to someone who passed it onto someone else! Eventually it landed with a friend who recognised my handwriting in the notes pages and was returned to me.

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

That I’m posh! I am working class and extremely proud of my heritage. I was the first person in my family to go away to university! But people have made assumptions about my background and my values based on the way I speak, which frustrates me.

6. What is your untrainable superpower?

Folks who aren’t neurospicy may not buy this but I’d say pattern recognition. It’s a strong neurodivergent trait, and goes beyond obvious patterns (like mathematical ones, see above!). It feels like a helping hand with other struggles, because it’s easy for me to see when something isn’t right and helps me protect myself. You can hone that trait, but to notice near-imperceptible changes in an environment and be aware of it does feel like a superpower.

See also: Spidey Senses…

7. What is that thing which is OK to ask you about, but which other people are wary to do so?

My health: people don’t ask, they feel it’s intrusive and sure I’m not going to tell you the ins and outs but it would be nice to feel more comfortable speaking about the impact of living with Endometriosis and Crohn’s Disease. It’s quite lonely living with debilitating chronic health conditions, and people skirting around them.

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

Agh, this sounds really sad to write but honestly? All the time! I have very often felt out of place, especially in groups. What you learn from that is independence, and how to be okay in your own company. It made lockdown easier than expected.

9. What is the best purchase you’ve made recently? Why?

A handheld clothes steamer – I loathe ironing!! It’s bloody epic, I love a gadget.

10. Is there something that you’ve dreamed of doing for a long time? Why haven’t you done it?

Moving to Scotland, and writing a book! I’ve always wanted to do both. I’ve been seriously ill this year, and a very close friend of mine passed away whilst I was in recovery which has given me a huge kick up the bum to live my dreams. I used to be so driven to achieve the things I promised myself as a kid, but in the past few years I lost sight of that a bit. So 2024 is the year I reclaim those dreams for myself.

11. If you were a giant mega Monster what city would you rampage first? Why?

Not a city, but Woking. I lived there for a year and it was the most miserable year of my life.

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

Ooooh… Mary Barbe: she did some terrible things, but also with her story you see her origins and her context and find yourself almost feeling sorry for her. Powerful writing.

13. Tell me about that one project that was a total off-the-rails disaster? What was your role in that shitshow?

I was instructed to run an assessment centre to hire SDRs. I’d done it before with great success, but I’d had budget & buy-in that time, this time I did not. It was a shit-show from start to finish. It went exactly as you’d expect an assessment centre with no budget and internal buy-in would go. Eventually, it was conceded that I should do things my way. The SDRs I ended up hiring now run teams of their own. I feel proud of how I turned that around.

14. What decision makes you say, “What was I thinking??” when you look back on your career?

Haaaa yes. Years and years ago I interviewed for a permanent job. When I was offered the job I was told I’d be hired on an FTC basis “for speed” and that it’s “just procedural, you will be treated like a perm employee and we’ll move you onto a perm contract straight away”. What was I thinking saying yes to that!! The role was a disaster: everyone was told I was a temp, so no one bothered to get to know me… hiring managers were angry with leadership at “being lumped with a temp” and didn’t want to work with me on hiring. I walked out 3 months later and I won’t ever make that mistake again. I was naive, and way too trusting.

15. What’s the one bad quality you wouldn’t mind in a colleague? Why?

Ooooh… I think some of the qualities that people would call “bad” aren’t really that bad, they’re characteristics that need channelling in the right way. However if I had to pick a generally bad quality I’d probably say passive-aggressive: purely because it goes over my head most of the time.

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

I’m the connector! I’ll get the group talking, introductions, coaxing people to speak up. I’m good at getting ideas bouncing around, which is important in getting a new team up and running quickly. I think this happens because I’ve often felt like an outsider, so I work extra hard to make sure no one else feels that way (because it sucks).

17. What common wisdom in our industry needs to be debunked?

The whole “passive candidates are better” bullshit. It’s never been true! It’s a tenet fueled by ego and vanity. That’s a strong take I know, but I stand by it. Scope your roles out properly, and don’t dismiss the gems in the treasure trove that is your ATS!

18. Do you have a secret tip, tool or trick that’s contributed to your success?

I feel like this shouldn’t be a secret but: help people out even if there’s nothing in it for you. Do that favour, make that intro, refer that candidate. Put good out into the world, and see what happens.

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

“Why did you decide to answer these questions? Why now?” – I think that would be really insightful to learn. People’s motivators are always so interesting.

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

Sam Merron: he’s a TA pro I respect big time, I’m very fortunate to call him a friend. He knows his stuff, he has sound values, and I think he’d have some great answers to these Qs.

Thank you to Sophie Power or taking 20 Questions for The Brainfood Tribune. Make sure to follow Sophie on LinkedIn.

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