Career stories: Sophie Meaney, Equality Warrior at Elevate Talent Strategy

Aug 19, 2022 | Careers, Sector & policy

Law graduate Sophie Meaney explains how she found her passion for a career in graduate recruitment.

I studied law at university. I suspected I didn’t want to be a solicitor but just in case, I completed a summer internship with a London law firm. Although I was yet to find my career passion.


Finding her vocation

It was during the internship, that I discovered what I wanted to pursue career-wise.  And it wasn’t what I was doing at the time. I looked at the people running the internship programme, saw them launching young people’s careers and identifying potential. I realised I’d finally found my ‘thing’.


Learning new skills

Unfortunately, I took a bit of a wrong turn.  Naively not understanding the difference between student recruitment and agency hiring, I found myself in a role very different to the one I wanted.

Still, the nine months I spent in a heavily sales-led recruitment agency headhunting newly qualified accountants, taught me invaluable sales and negotiation skills. It also helped me identify where I could find the role I was looking for.

My next step saw me joining the EY Student Recruitment team, one of the most important roles I have done.  I had exceptional mentors and learnt so much from my colleagues.

Not just intern and graduates hiring, but also about stakeholder management (and which hotels were the least awful in university towns across the UK).

From EY I went on to lead the UK Student Recruitment team for Watson Wyatt.  I loved having end-to-end ownership of the programme.  Although I’d participated in ISE events when at EY, I became more heavily involved at Watson Wyatt, presenting at events and participating in working groups.


Developing networks

I started to develop relationships that have supported my career ever since, learning a lot from the peers I interacted with.

After briefly leading the whole Watson Wyatt recruitment team, I was offered the opportunity to set up a new function for the organisation out in Asia Pacific. It was the start of the financial crisis, so the timing wasn’t brilliant.  Yet it was an amazing experience, hiring from interns and graduates, to executive level across 14 countries and building a multi-cultural team of my own.

A husband and two children later, when I returned to the UK, I went for a coffee with Amberjack (then Gradweb), my go-to supplier for nine years. Essentially, I never left.

I was originally persuaded with the promise of a nine to five job, three days a week but it was less than six months before I was running the business development teams. Soon I was on the board and leading strategy and product development – conceptualising tech platforms and assessment propositions.


Inclusion elevates all

I later co-led a Private Equity backed MBO (management buyout) – something I never expected to do! These days, I work on a freelance basis, focusing on the intersection between my passionate belief that Inclusion Elevates All, and my functional expertise in recruitment and selection process design.

I help organisations gain talent advantage by ensuring that they can attract and then, crucially, not deselect, individuals who will bring different ways of thinking, making them more resilient, robust, innovative, creative, and ultimately more profitable and successful.


How has the ISE played a part?

Through every step, the ISE has been a crucial part of my story.  My support, my network, my source of inspiration and education.  I am delighted to now be on the board, giving a bit back to the organisation that’s given me so much.

ISE will soon open recruitment for new Board directors.  Contact Sarah Hathaway for more information.

Read more ISE career stories

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