Embracing growth and leaving your comfort zone behind: Chelsey Saxon’s journey to Associate Director

8 mins
Sellick  Partnership

By Sellick Partnership

As professionals, we can often find ourselves in comfortable routines: mastering our roles, becoming experts in our fields, and finding comfort in the predictability of our work lives.

But what happens when an opportunity arises to step out of that comfort zone and take on new challenges? A daunting prospect, yet it is precisely these moments that hold the potential for growth, transformation, and unparalleled development.

Taking risks and stepping out of your comfort zone is something that Chelsey Saxon is all too familiar with, and believes it’s been instrumental in her overall success at Sellick Partnership. After joining us in 2012, Chelsey has continuously pushed the boundaries: taking on new challenges and even recently launching into new markets.  

Recently, we spoke to Chelsey about her plans moving forward, her journey to Associate Director and those that have inspired her along the way.

Congratulations on your promotion to Associate Director! Can you tell us about life before joining Sellick Partnership? Were you always destined for a career in recruitment? 

Funnily enough, not really. I wasn’t the most outgoing person when I was younger, and just before sitting my GCSEs my family moved to Bermuda. I think this was the first time I was really pushed out of my comfort zone, particularly because I didn’t want to go and was a stubborn teenager.

Little did I realise (at the time), that it would be one of the best experiences of my life! Moving to an entirely new part of the world definitely pushed my boundaries, in all of the best ways.

When I finished school in Bermuda, I enrolled at the University of Southampton to study Criminology. There wasn’t a university on the island so, I moved back to the UK and started a fresh completely on my own.  

After finishing my degree, I had a friend that was moving to Manchester and needed someone to live with. Another fresh start was on the horizon. So, after my last summer in Bermuda, I arrived in Manchester with just a handful of friends around me, and started doing reception work while I figured out a longer-term plan.

So, the ‘longer-term’ plan was recruitment?

Not entirely, I wasn’t really sure what my plan was and I had a friend working in recruitment that told me I should try it. By this point I was much more outgoing and loved speaking to people.

I applied for a job at Sellick Partnership and went very well prepared, as my friend had told me exactly what I’d be asked and exactly how to answer. Kate Jasper, one of the top billing Consultants, came in to my interview – who would have thought 12 years later we would still be working together? In fact, Kate flew over to Italy for my wedding in August 2023, alongside quite a few colleagues who have also become some of my closest friends.  

When I joined the business, the public sector legal team consisted of 4 or 5 people – now we have more than 20 Consultants all working on different patches, it’s continuously growing in size, experience and expertise.

In my first week, I began sharing a desk with Laura Hayward who was training me, she went on to become my Manager (and is still my Manager). In many ways, we’ve been on the journey together – we’ve both seen each other through the promotions as well as the challenges. In my early days, I was so terrified of speaking to people on the phone, that Laura used to dial a number and pass me the phone, so there was no turning back. She taught me a lot! 

Was there a time when things started to ‘click’? 

Yes, there definitely was. It’s difficult because, when you’re a Resourcing Consultant you’re filling other people’s jobs, or at least helping with that – and that’s the point, you’re learning. But there comes a time when you’re desperate to start doing a full 360 role and have control over the entire process. 

Taking on clients felt quite daunting at the time as it was something new but with the right training from Hannah Cottam and the team, I learnt from the best and soon was able to make meaningful relationships with clients by supplying quality candidates

Soon after joining, I realised that I have a great memory especially when it comes to candidates. This was when everything started to click and at one stage I had over 90 temporary legal candidates working within the legal public sector London market. This was when people would pick the phone up and ring me because I’d been recommended and at this point I felt like I had real ownership of the market. 

I think there comes a point when you also realise the impact you can have on people’s lives, by connecting them with the right opportunity. It’s so powerful! 

Were you out of your comfort zone in those beginning years? 

Absolutely, I think the beginning years of any career can take you out of your comfort zone. Diving into an industry that revolves around constant interaction and networking was quite daunting at first.

I had quite a few patch changes when I was working in the public sector team, these came in the early stages. Each time this happened, I was able to pick the patch back up, develop relationships with candidates and clients and really get to know my stakeholders. 

I think I was able to prove myself on a few separate occasions – people noticed I was capable which meant it wasn’t just a one-time fluke, and it opened doors. 

Why did you stay in recruitment? Was that always the plan?

Being completely honest, I’ve always enjoyed working here so much that I’ve never thought about wanting to leave – that really is the truth. This doesn’t only relate to the professional development and opportunities, but the wider culture outside of work as well. Some of my closest friends are here, and I consider myself very lucky to work alongside them every day.   

I did a lot of training when I was a Principal Consultant – during this training, I found that I was always a natural leader, and people warmed to me. So, when I started building my own team, I realised that this was what I enjoyed – training people up and seeing them do so well. 

I was allowed to continuously learn and progress, there’s always something else for you to get stuck into and not just focussed on recruitment. I am the Diversity Champions lead, working with a group of sales and non-sales colleagues on our D&I strategy and coming up with ways we can assist candidates and clients.

Then, there’s the financial aspect of recruitment which shouldn’t be ignored. The earning potential in recruitment can be hugely rewarding, especially when you gain experience and build up a good track record. This has given me so much independence: it’s allowed me to travel, save up for my first house, pay for my wedding – all those key life events! 

Speaking of the Diversity Champions, why did you join the committee and what does the group do?

When I lived in Bermuda, I was surrounded by so many different cultures which allowed me to grow as an individual, so I had a genuine commitment to fostering inclusivity and diversity within recruitment. 

From the outset, I saw the opportunity to contribute to meaningful change, by advocating for diversity and inclusion at all levels. Whether it's championing initiatives to promote diversity in recruitment, organising training sessions to raise awareness about unconscious bias, or facilitating open discussions on relevant issues, being a Diversity Champion allows me to actively engage in creating a more inclusive and equitable workplace culture.

Being part of the committee has been a learning experience for me personally. It has provided me with invaluable insights into the diverse perspectives and experiences of my colleagues and, if anything, I feel like it’s made me a much better recruiter.

You’ve just launched into a new market, can you tell us more about this? 

We recently launched into the in-house legal market which is something that involved thorough research and strategic planning. Initially, I noticed that we were getting more and more in-house roles coming in and they would be given to the most appropriate person. 

We analysed the market, gained insights into the requirements and challenges faced by in-house legal teams. Then we started to push out our recruitment strategies, aimed at connecting companies with highly skilled professionals. 

Personally, I genuinely enjoy learning about the law. I’m not legally trained but it’s fascinating to learn about trends and how they can have a knock-on impact on recruitment – it’s very intertwined. It shows that you can find a specialism that really interests you. 

After establishing the In-House Legal team, we also recruited someone else to work alongside us as a Resourcing Consultant. One of our colleagues who worked in a non-sales capacity expressed interest in joining a sales team and after going through the interview process, we were delighted to offer her the role. This just shows that there are opportunities there for people to grow and develop, however they want to. 

What elements of your new role excite you?

There are several, first it’s the prospect of getting involved in strategic initiatives. I’m so passionate about driving growth, having a seat at the table to contribute to the development and execution of the strategic plans is exciting. 

Additionally, the opportunity to cross-sell with Samsic represents a significant avenue for collaboration. We may be able to broaden our service offerings and deliver great value to our clients. As part of such a large global organisation, we gain access to a wealth of resources, expertise and insights that can fuel our growth. 

Who has inspired you?

The recruitment industry is, as a rule, very male dominated – so working alongside a group of incredibly successful women has always been particularly inspiring and empowering. I’ve always worked within a team that is hugely supportive. 

For half of my career, I was managed by Hannah Cottam who played a pivotal role in my development. Her guidance and leadership were instrumental in shaping my journey. 

Then there’s Laura Hayward, who took me under her wing and provided me with invaluable mentorship. She challenged me to step out of my comfort zone, pushed me to take on leadership roles and helped me make the sometimes-difficult decisions. Laura has, without a doubt, helped me grow as a Manager over the years. 

Do you have any advice you would like to pass on?

Don’t hesitate to step out of your comfort zone. Embrace new challenges, take calculated risks, and be open to learning from every experience, even if it feels uncomfortable at first. It's in those moments that we often discover our potential and capabilities.

Secondly, cultivate self-awareness. Take the time to identify your strengths, passions, and areas for improvement. Knowing what you excel at enables you to leverage those strengths to your advantage, whether it's in pursuing new opportunities or overcoming challenges. Similarly, recognising areas where you can grow allows you to focus your efforts on personal and professional development, ultimately enhancing your overall performance and effectiveness.

Finally, don't wait for opportunities to come to you—actively seek them out. Take initiative, be proactive, and advocate for yourself. Whether it's expressing interest in new projects, pursuing additional training or certifications, or networking with industry peers. Take every opportunity to expand your horizons and advance your career.

Get in touch to find out more

If you’re curious about internal vacancies or upcoming roles at Sellick Partnership, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us. Whether you're looking to take the next step in your career or are simply exploring new opportunities, we’re committed to providing you with the information and resources you need.

Contact us today to find out more.