Meet the SustainAbility Directors

Sustain Ability Meet the Team - Directors_Featured 2

Meet Martin O’Donnell, Ben Athey, Peter Zonnevylle and Edward Mills, the Directors of SustainAbility Consulting. 

Have you ever wondered what motivates recruitment business owners every day?

We sat down to chat about this and several other topics, such as the personality traits behind successful recruiters, latest trends in the recruitment industry, career advice for experienced consultants and what makes SustainAbility stand out from the crowd.

Take a read below to get to know us!

Why should someone consider a career in recruitment?

Martin: It can take you anywhere, it’s a great career that proportionally rewards how hard you work, and gives you the ability to control your own destiny, which is incredibly rare in a job.

I started in the UK and was able to relocate to Sydney 20 years ago. Halfway through my career, I had the opportunity to take a year off to travel the world with my fiancé who, coincidentally, I met at work. It has opened up a huge number of opportunities, such as the ability to co-found four recruitment firms and, most importantly, introduced me to amazing people, including some of my best friends.

Plus, when done right, it pays quite well!

What is the most rewarding part of being a recruiter?

Pete: It has to be turning around some people’s cynicism about recruiters and encouraging them to view us as a trusted advisor to senior, influential thought-leaders in the industry.

Ben: I have two answers – firstly, the financial options that have allowed my family to reap the rewards from almost two decades in this competitive industry.

Secondly, seeing our team achieve different levels of satisfaction and reward. Whether that’s going on more exotic holidays or saving for a house deposit and purchasing their first home – working in a successful, high achieving culture gives me a huge buzz!

What personality traits do successful recruiters inherently have?

Ed: I’d say that being inquisitive, self-motivated and organised are key. It probably would also pay to be interested in becoming a psychologist!

Pete: Tenacity and resilience are going to really help you as a recruiter, balanced with high levels of integrity and being able to adopt a long-term view.

Martin: A high level of focus on customer service and customer experience. It’s key to remember that looking for a new role is hard work and emotional for our candidates and that hiring is incredibly important to our clients. It’s the little touches throughout the process that can make all the difference to how our customers feel at the end of the process.

It’s also important to be a team player, to be confident but humble, be focused and work hard. It can be a tough job but if you are giving it 100% every day, then the rewards will follow. And don’t forget about honesty – with your candidates, clients and fellow consultants, but most importantly with yourself.

Ben: I think it’s so important that recruiters have that “never give up, I can and I will make this happen” attitude. Resilience is key, alongside a level of belief and optimism that you will get a benefit from every call or contact you make – maybe not right now but definitely in the future.

What is the biggest challenge for a recruitment consultant in the current market?

Ben: Getting caught up with all the virtual recruitment tools available can be your downfall. They certainly have their merits, but nothing will replace a phone call or face-to-face meeting to catapult a relationship forward.

What areas of tech do you foresee the biggest growth in from a recruitment perspective?

Pete: I see front-end web development, UX design, data engineers and scientists showing the biggest growth.

Ben: I think security is a big growth area. How businesses are centralising data for analytics and business reporting is a major focus across the industry, and as far as development languages, JavaScript and its variants are in high demand.

Ed: AI, API & Integration particularly within the partnership space

What are your tips for a consultant transitioning into a billing manager role?

Ben: Give your team the best training as early as possible and let them run a little. Try not to make them exact replicas of yourself; accept and embrace their different personality traits. As I have become more experienced as a manager, I have also found that “coaching” is a far better technique then “telling”.

What differentiates SustainAbility Consulting from your competitors?

Ben: 80 years of recruitment experience unashamedly stripped back to what really matters: CULTURE. So, what does that look like?

  • A place where people want to be, without fear or any sense of dread when they walk through the door.
  • A place where you are motivated to be the best you can be. As Directors, we challenge you to show your potential and live in the 100% zone. This is a place where people are required to “collaborate and contribute” (no dickheads, no passengers).
  • It’s so important to enjoy the journey as well as the destination. The successful recruitment journey can be very long, tumultuous and painful at times. Celebrating success and enjoying the ride is key.
  • I personally have learnt to be very picky around hiring. It’s imperative that we identify team members who WANT to do it rather than people who need to be MADE to do it.

We have proven that having the right people with the right motivations and a great environment will result in a high performing, self-managing culture.

What does success look like at SustainAbility Consulting?

Pete: Lots of happy, smiling faces at our annual conference in beautiful locations such as Queenstown and the Whitsundays!

Where do you see Sustainability going over the next five years?

Pete: All four brands have varying degrees of growth potential, as well as the potential for interstate expansion and complementary brands.

Martin: Continued growth. Over the past four years, we’ve grown from a team of five to a successful group of 50 staff across four brands. We feel that due to continued demand from our clients, there are a number of new verticals for us to explore, and increase in cover across already established teams.

What has been your career highlight to date?

Ed: To help create a culture at Sustainability where I love coming to work every day.  We genuinely laugh and enjoy each other’s company.

Ben: This is easy! Apart from when I joined Sustainability, the major highlight for me is when we took all the businesses skiing in Queenstown after achieving a group-wide incentive. I looked around and thought “this is going pretty well!”

If you’re looking for the next step in your recruitment career, please don’t hesitate to reach out to Keirin O’Hara, our Head of Talent. We have numerous opportunities for recruiters across the group, so feel free to get in touch for a confidential chat.

Keirin O’Hara Head of Talent

0407 411 536