To mark 2020’s International Women’s Day (IWD), Oasis HR is showcasing four influential women in our network that we feel have shown resistance, passion, and determination in their fields.
We are excited to introduce our third ‘International Woman Of The Year’… Melanie Punch. Mel is an influential careers advisor who has been a big part of many professional journeys. From supporting young women in the early stages of their careers to supporting a wider team at Investec, her number one goal is to help her workforce with their goals…
This year International Women’s Day falls on a Sunday, the 8th of March. It is a day to recognise the many achievements of women. As we actively choose to challenge stereotypes, fight bias, and improve situations for women in the workplace, we think it’s important to recognise the remarkable women in our industry. This year’s IWD 2020 campaign is #EachforEqual and we are highlighting four amazing women in Human Resources and Recruitment.
Melanie Punch has been selected because of the substantial part she plays in the progression of many individual’s careers. Her positivity and tenacity to make a meaningful difference is above the call of duty. Showing respect for everybody that works with her, Mel believes in creating collaborative ‘win-win’ situations that demonstrate real business value.
We asked Mel to summarise her current experience, before asking her some more personal questions…
1. Tell us about your career so far…
After leaving university, I worked in sales, marketing and operations roles before beginning my career in HR.
My first in-house recruitment position was with RPO and it gave me a great foundation to build on as I learned about the commercial side of recruitment. Fifteen years on, I’ve worked in the management consultancy, insurance and finance sectors, for both start-ups and established brands.
I’ve been at Investec for two-and-a-half years and the inclusive company culture makes me feel like I can be myself at work. I feel supported and empowered, and as head of careers I want to make sure my team and all our candidates are given the opportunity to perform at their best.
2. What piece of advice would you give your 16-year old self?
Follow your gut instinct and things will happen for a reason. It’s easy to spend time over-analysing situations or being disappointed that something hasn’t gone the way you wanted it to. Instead, make the best of every opportunity and be confident in your decisions. I’d also warn her how difficult A-levels are and to drop German!
3. Who has been the most influential person in your life?
That would be my Yiayia (my Greek Grandma). She overcame adversity throughout her 88-year-life. Even though she didn’t speak English at the time, she moved to England aged 17 after meeting my Grandpop in Athens, where he was stationed during the war.
She settled in a tiny hamlet in the North East of England where she had seven children and never gave up her passion for her family, her global travels and chianti! She was always immaculately dressed for any occasion. I miss her every day.
4. What significant obstacle have you overcome?
I wouldn’t say there’s been one big obstacle, but there have been plenty of times during my career when I’ve had to be resilient and find the confidence to back myself.
Between graduating from university and the age of 25 I lived in London, Liverpool and Leeds and worked in sales, product and brand management before starting my career in recruitment. I moved cities without knowing anyone, and I had to learn new things and meet new people. As I get older I realise how difficult, but life-changing those experiences were.
5. What is your most precious achievement?
Although I’m proud of where I’ve got to in my own career, my biggest achievement is developing talent and seeing the potential in others. I’m so proud that I’m able to support people’s ambitions and be part of their professional journey.
Just before I started working at Investec I spent eight weeks consulting for Whitehat – a service that helps young people from all backgrounds to find apprenticeships they love. I used my knowledge to place a number of talented young ladies in their first careers. It was emotionally rewarding and demonstrated the power of HR. It’s why we do it.
If you enjoyed this interview with Melanie Punch, have a look at the nuggets of wisdom our other nominees have shared for IWD 2020. Additionally, you can have a look at Oasis HR’s ‘Women of the Year 2019’.