Melissa was always drawn to the idea of being self-employed. So in 2017 when she was presented with the opportunity to buy ChandlerWoods, she took it with both hands… and she hasn’t looked back since.
Business is Melissa’s passion, and it has been since she left school. But along the way she has developed another passion – people. Every experience she has had, from her first day as an 18-year-old working in a McDonald’s restaurant, has helped to shape the leader she is today.
“Within six months of starting at McDonald’s, I was promoted to a management role. I had only started working there as a way to earn money so I could travel before heading to business college. But seven years later I was working in HR and training at the McDonald’s head office.
Amongst other things, I ran a traineeship program and worked with a lot of kids who didn’t have the opportunities that other kids had. I found it so rewarding to show them a different pathway to build a management career.”
After McDonald’s, Melissa moved into the start-up world as the training manager for an organic supermarket chain – Macro Wholefoods. It was a vastly different world to the established and sophisticated business she had come from, but it wasn’t long before she had established the people systems and processes that would set that business up for success.
“After Macro Wholefoods was sold, I moved to Sydney Water where I was able to dive into culture programs, competency programs, work on knowledge transfer with an ageing workforce as well as recruitment processes. I worked on large scale change in a unionised workforce and it was all very interesting.”
And then along came ChandlerWoods.
“I found that while I was working in corporate roles, I was only one part of the puzzle. I love working as part of a team… but I also love the satisfaction of seeing a project from end to end. I am quite a creative person, so I can always see different ways of doing things.
At ChandlerWoods, I get to build relationships with key decision makers in business and see the impact of our work on their business outcomes.
It’s really important that we all feel valued when we come to work… and in my role I am building valuable partnerships with people who trust me and the opinions I bring to the table. It is extremely gratifying.”
When Melissa took the reins of ChandlerWoods, it was primarily an executive recruitment business. She has transformed the business – much in the same way she does for her clients – into what it is today, offering value across the full spectrum of executive recruitment and HR services.
What started as a desire to work in business has evolved into what Melissa now sees as her purpose today – powering business growth.
“I want to work with clients who really value the people inside their businesses. Businesses are successful because their people are successful. They go hand in hand.
When I go into a business, I am looking at the HR systems and processes, and assessing the HR compliance. When a business has that solid foundation, their people can thrive. But more than that, we are creating an environment where the business can really move into growth.”
Melissa is a realist. She is fascinated by human behaviour and always surrounds herself with family and friends. But it all comes back to experience. Whatever Melissa does, she is looking for an experience.
“I love food and wine, travelling and experiencing new cultures. When I go to a restaurant, it’s not just about the food. I like to experience new and different things. It’s the same when I travel. I want to understand different perspectives and see things through different lenses.”