Strivin & Thrivin EP60. Jessica Gibson-Jones – Head of Talent Acquisition & Sourcing

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In the latest episode of the Strivin & Thrivin podcast, we sat down for a chat with Jessica Gibson-Jones, Head of Talent Acquisition (APAC) & Global Head of Sourcing at Toll, about her interesting journey in the HR world and why she still has a passion for people after 18 years in the industry.

A non-linear journey

From a Bachelor of Social Science, pivoting over to psychology, moving onto a Bachelor of Commerce majoring in Human Resource Management, completing a second degree in Organisation Leadership and rounding things out with a Masters in HR.

While she may have altered course a few times, one thing that has remained true throughout all of Jessica’s study choices (and career), is her passion for people and learning.

“I was always really interested in human psychology and human behaviours and why do people do what we do? … I’m very much a continual, lifelong learner. But I just felt like if I couldn’t see myself doing it long term, then why do it at all? Why stay on that path?”

Looking behind the curtain

As someone who loves to learn, Jessica’s move from agency to internal taught her the importance of being outcome focused, which has certainly come in handy during her time in talent acquisition. 

“[Working in agency], when I placed someone, what happened? What impact did that person have on that organisation? It was always, okay, you’ve closed that onto the next one … That felt a little bit short-sighted to me.

“In agency … you don’t see the internal politics, the red tape, the robust discussions. When you move into that [internal] world you are suddenly part of those discussions. It kind of gives you an appreciation and some insight into how organisations think, view, find, engage, mobilise, develop talent, and I loved that.

“It really taught me focus. It taught me to be outcomes oriented. It taught me how to talk commercial. It also taught me to cut through some of the grey and get to the root cause of, not only organisational problems, but also of people.”

The importance of people

As well as a love for learning, Jess’ passion for talent acquisition has also held strong because of her desire to help people.

‘Organisations are nothing without their people. So the fact that in talent acquisition we have the privilege of bringing in talent to an organisation to help them achieve what they wanna achieve, is phenomenal.’

“I think sometimes we are very quick to forget that sometimes it’s beyond a job for a person. It’s the ability to pay their rent or their mortgage or feed their family .. To be able to contribute at a very small level to that for so long has been fantastic and it’s kept me engaged.”

The evolution of TA

Just like most industries, the world of talent acquisition has had to adapt itself over the years.

“Look at the amount of automation and augmentation that has happened. We wouldn’t even have been talking about chatGPT 12 months ago. Now we’re talking about, how does that impact talent acquisition and what does that mean for us in terms of ethics and how do we look at that from a privacy perspective and how does that fit into our sourcing strategy?”

This technological disruption has also changed the dynamic of recruiters within their organisations, for the better.

“We are now a strategic player within our organisation. If you looked at that 15 years ago, that really wasn’t the case. We were not seen as someone that had a seat at the table, impacting the strategic direction of our organisations. We were still very much that back office support function within HR, that was there simply to fill jobs.

Want to hear the full episode or catch up on some other conversations? Click here to listen now.

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