Hello from the other side: Kate Atkins

 

How did you come to work at Momenta?

I started with Momenta not long after moving to the UK from Australia (though I am originally from New Zealand). I started on a contract as a resourcer and worked for eight months before being offered an opportunity with my old company with the potential for sponsorship.

I kept in touch with the team at Momenta while I was working elsewhere, and when my spousal visa to stay in the UK was approved, I was offered a team leader role back with Momenta.

Describe the highs and lows of a typical working day

The contracting market is very fast moving and often turnaround times from receiving a request from the client to finding the right candidate/s is very short, so – depending on what comes in – a day can change very quickly.

Highs include: a new project being announced; offering candidates a new role and positive feedback coming through from clients regarding people we have placed on contract.

A low would be a project being pushed back and having to give candidates the news, or a candidate not accepting an offer for a role as they have been offered something else. We make a point of developing close working relationships with our candidates so, in this kind of situation we will try to find out the reason for their decision. Then hopefully, another time we will match them to a role that’s right. 

What’s the hardest conversation you’ve had to have with an associate?

Occasionally (though thankfully not often) I need to have difficult conversations with contractors around performance issues or conduct on site, however I think the hardest conversations are when I have to tell someone that a contract is coming to an end earlier than expected, which can be disappointing. But we’re in a good place with our business growing and plenty of good projects coming on stream, which means we can search around quickly for something else new and interesting for them.

An unusual - and not very easy -  situation once was a husband and wife scenario where one got the job on the project and the other didn’t, so that was a little bit tricky!

And are there funny times too?

There have been a few occasions where I have called candidates after an interview and they believe they have completely messed up, and are quite sure they won’t be offered the role. Then I get the nice job of turning around and saying that the client loved them and they have actually got the job.  That’s a really nice feeling, and we have will often have a laugh about it on the phone.

What changes have you experienced since working in the interim sector?

One thing I have noticed is more and more people wanting to get into contracting rather than permanent work.

Initially when I started resourcing for Momenta two and a half years ago there was a need to explain in more detail about working as a contractor through your own limited company or an umbrella company. Now I find that candidates seem to already be aware of these aspects of contracting, and often know people who have worked that way.

Another change is that now there is more review work to be done and on a variety of different products and services; whereas a few years ago the main focus was definitely PPI.

 How is the world of work changing and affecting those in the field?

As mentioned already, a lot of people are wanting to get into contracting within the financial service sector and there are now lots of people who have been working in the industry for a number of years and like the flexibility and earning potential of contracting. So that has increased the competition in the market.

One of the projects I used to resource for had a regular graduate intake and those graduates were not necessarily envisioning themselves to be working within the financial services contracting market for a number of years. But due to the benefits they have ended up doing so. For example, a lot of them had law degrees and therefore would have (I imagine) been looking to move into the legal sector once they’d gained some experience, however they have carried on within the contracting sector.  

What one piece of advice would you give someone looking to go into contracting?

 Accept a contract with a degree of flexibility and resilience. There are a number of different factors that can delay a project, reduce the numbers required or result in the project being cancelled immediately. Even when you have started on a project, there is a chance that it could end a lot earlier than anticipated.

And it can work the other way too; projects vary in length and complexity enormously, and timings are not always predictable. Nothing is set in stone with contracting so you need to be prepared for that element of uncertainty – and generally that is why you can earn better wages being a contractor. If a contract is cancelled it can be disappointing, however if a candidate reacts badly to the cancellation then this may impact on our willingness to put them forward for the next contract (as it can happen again).

What advice would you give an associate going for an interview?

I would treat your interview (and any communication) with the agency (such as Momenta) as just as important as the interview with the client. We put forward to the client those candidates we have confidence in, and if you don’t impress us in an interview, then we will naturally question whether you are suitable to represent us on site with the client.

What was your dream job as a child?

I wanted to be a lawyer when I was younger. I liked the idea of being really busy, dressing ‘corporate’ and being able to work in different cities around the world. Luckily working within financial services recruitment covers the main things I was looking for - without as large a university debt!

What is your perfect Saturday?   

Going to the gym in the morning: I usually do a spin class followed by a pump class (I’m a bit of a sad gym obsessive at the weekends!) Then that would be followed by an afternoon in the pub with friends watching football or rugby and drinking beer (not wine – a nice pale ale or something like that.)

Being from New Zealand I support the All Blacks, but my husband is Irish so I have to support them too, and then I’m a Tottenham fan when it comes to football.  So that’s pretty much my perfect Saturday (as long as my team wins!)