Naomi Little D&R Partners Recruitment

Naomi Little | D&R Partners Recruitment

All of us had to overcome more than we expected in 2020, as the world, country by country, business by business, individual by individual, fought a very public battle with coronavirus. Amid the professional pressure to adapt though, some fought through very personal battles too.

Naomi Little joined first joined Boxtree Recruitment in July 2020 during the first lockdown, where she placed £1.1m in candidate salaries into the UK bridging and lending markets, despite being only 21 years old, before being headhunted herself into a promotion as senior recruitment consultant, and now recruitment manager, with D&R Partners. Toni Dines, her former boss at Boxtree, says of Little, “she consistently delivered above and beyond her years of experience, with a love for finance recruitment which shone through daily in terms of passion and drive”.

While such progression and early success would be remarkable under any circumstances, Little achieved all this while coming to terms with and managing a diagnosis of borderline personality disorder in November 2020. “This was a very challenging, difficult time for her, but regardless of the troubling, testing and difficult times she has faced she continued to inspire others,” says Dines. Little has become an advocate of mental health. During her time at Boxtree she made it her mission to ensure her clients offered a supportive workplace to her candidates. “She truly is inspirational when she shares her stories with the industry,” says Dines.

Little’s wisdom belies her youth. Asked what one thing she would tell your younger self about getting started in the business, she says: “I would have put less pressure on myself to know what career I wanted to pursue, take time, make mistakes and don’t settle for anything you feel less than passionate about.” Likewise her own personal mantra – “Tough times don’t last; tough people do.”

It is a stance Little has had to live time and again, personally and professionally. Financial services has, admittedly, come on a lot since, say, the 1980s era of fast talking salesmen – and only men. But let’s not kid ourselves there isn’t further to go, a fact Little knows first hand. “My integrity has been questioned, males are never frowned upon for building relationships and interacting with clients in the non-traditional ways. There is no stigma surrounding men who “wine and dine” to win business or get ahead. But being a female who simply wants to build a relationship with others in the market is still questioned. My offers to meet with financial services professionals have previously been misconstrued and sexualised,” she says.

And yet Little, like so many BLD Diamonds, is outward looking with a rare and expansive generosity. Now she is in a management position her approach to the role is to encourage growth in others, for example by changing how recruitment companies deal with questions from potential employers about previous salaries, long a bugbear of candidates but an issue about which they felt they had little recourse to do anything about. The question can lock already underpaid groups, for example women, in an inescapable cycle of not being properly compensated that repeats from one employer to the next. Little is unequivocal. “Stop asking candidates what their current salary is”. Candidates previous earnings “should not be a factor and I encourage candidates not to disclose this when interviewing”, she says. Little is taking this attitude into her newly senior role, taking her inspiration from famed former General Electric manager Jack Welch no less, who said: “Before you are a leader, success is all about growing yourself. When you become a leader, success is all about growing others.”