Celebrating 18 years of Sue Wallis: reinventing a business

Celebrating 18 years of Sue Wallis: reinventing a business

​Sewell Wallis was borne out of the recognition that not all recruitment environments are created equal. Our MD Sue Wallis reinvented the business following a management buy-out, wanting to create a truly great place to work for everyone in the team, and ensure that all clients and candidates have the experience that they deserve. It’s been 18 years since Sue joined the original business, Sewell Moorhouse, so today we’re taking a trip down memory lane, looking at how the business got from where it started, to today, serving finance, HR, public sector and executive clients and candidates across Yorkshire.

Turning dreams into a reality

Sue moved to Yorkshire from London 20 years ago, with over a decade’s experience in recruitment already under her belt. She joined Sewell Moorhouse in 2006 as Regional Director, promoted to MD of the entire Sewell Moorhouse brand 8 years later. In 2017, along with two of her team, Kayley Haythornthwaite and Lucy Regan, Sue completed an MBO, splitting the Sewell Moorhouse brand from the rest of the business, and rebranding as Sewell Wallis.

This move came from a desire to build a business that offered both excellent levels of service to those working with them and also provided a supportive, collaborative environment for the people working there. After 20 years in recruitment at that point, Sue had seen it all; clients and candidates alike, let down by unprofessional recruiters, messy processes, established clients lost to preventable mistakes, and numerous talented recruiters leaving the industry, quite often for the wrong reasons.

Setting us apart

Sue set out to do something different with Sewell Wallis. She didn’t want to just run a recruitment agency, she wanted to build a business with longevity. Working with a recruiter should be a partnership, an extension of your business; they should know your requirements in terms of staff and also have a deep understanding of your culture, not just be able to parrot a few keywords on a job spec. Candidates should be spoken to at length about their career aspirations, as well as to assess their suitability for a role, and they should arrive for interviews fully prepared. Your recruitment consultant should be a business partner, not just a CV machine, and this knowledge is what Sue used to underpin Sewell Wallis’ approach.

Sue’s experience also identified another pitfall: recruitment consultants can regularly get bogged down in admin processes. This is why Sewell Wallis has a dedicated admin team who keep everything ticking over in the background. It means that our team of directors can concentrate on running the wider business, whilst our admin team ensure everyone’s on track, that we’re compliant and that candidates and clients receive the information they need when they need it.

Sue also made the conscious decision to approach training differently. Recruiters are expected to learn on the job, resulting in an average tenure of around 18 months or less for many people who join the industry. By offering formal training in recruitment competencies, leadership and management skills and EDI understanding, she’s ensured her team are around for the long run.

A person-centric approach

At Sewell Wallis, we treat everyone as individuals. We celebrate everyone’s successes, big or small, and we’re all excellent cheerleaders. We also make sure we’re there for the good times and the bad. Sue had experienced so many recruiters leave the industry in the past due to being completely burnt out, and she wanted to flip the narrative. The old adage used to always be ‘leave your home life at the door’, but we spend hours of our week at work; Sue has intentionally crafted an environment in which people can be themselves at work, and where managers can help with the load if it becomes too heavy. Our leadership team are fully mental health first aid trained, and they foster a culture where people are open and approachable. This has resulted in a flat hierarchy and a team who put their hands up for support when they need it; nobody is left to drown.

Sue and the management team actively encourage a good work-life balance. We work hard when we’re working, and we all go home on time. We have regular socials outside of work that don’t hinge on going to the pub, and we offer an excellent bonus scheme to reward everyone within the business for their hard work – the intention was never to just line the owner’s pockets.

Hard work pays dividends

The work Sue put into trying to craft an inclusive and encouraging environment has definitely paid off. A lot of our team have been with us for a long time, and have been promoted from the role they originally started in. The intention was to build a consultancy that was the natural go-to for recruitment, and for the people that work with us to feel like we listen to them and what they need. She wanted to build a business where people were proud to work, and when you talk to our team, it’s safe to say she’s managed it.

Looking to the future

The plan going forward is to keep doing what we’re doing, whilst continuing to improve areas of the business that can be. We’ve hired two new consultants in the past three months, and brought our marketing in-house, allowing us to strengthen our brand in the Yorkshire market, and ensure all our communications are polished and professional. We’re making strides to improve our internal processes, so we work smarter, not harder, and Sue’s door is always open to new innovations from our consultants. We’re always open to conversations with talented recruiters and resourcers in the region; if you’re looking to work within a supportive and rewarding environment, where your individuality and ways of working are celebrated, we’d absolutely love to hear from you.

And of course, happy anniversary Sue – here’s to many more years of success!

Don't just take our word for it...

Don't just take our word for it...

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DarrenFinancial Controller

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