After graduating from university with a bachelor’s degree, Gemma worked in the hospitality industry for half a year whilst deciding what she wanted to do, before applying to some recruitment companies.
Panda was Gemma’s first step into recruitment.
Though Gemma notes that she’d had some experience with door-to-door sales, and therefore some sales experience, recruitment was a different ballpark.
Starting as a Trainee Recruitment Consultant in 360° permanent sales, Gemma has made her way up the ladder in the nearly five years that she’s been working at Panda to be in her current role.
“When I started here, I was told that I could grow my career quickly, but I’m still amazed at the opportunities I was given!”
Unlike her initial role as a Trainee Recruitment Consultant which was 360° permanent sales, the delivery team instead focuses on a 270° recruitment approach.
In other words, the delivery team does everything except business development and cold calling.
“We do a bit of sales activity and a bit of warm sales, but our main priority is delivering on the jobs we get – we manage the process from A to Z when the job comes in.”
Rather than being sector-specific, the delivery team at Panda works across biotechnology, pharmaceuticals, and medical devices, with the occasional high-tech engineering role from time to time.
This means that the team has great all-round experience, particularly since people who start in the delivery team will work on everything in their first three to four months.
“That way we can see where your affinity is. What do you like, what do you understand well, and where do the team’s needs lie?”
Rather than being an extremely rigid approach, people in the delivery team instead can take different things on and focus on the areas where they operate best.
“Yes, absolutely! We have a constant inflow of jobs from big clients – Johnson & Johnson, Amgen, Philips, Lonza – people can effectively work their jobs, rather than working too many and not being able to focus. The opportunities here are incredible, and a lot of the roles we are working on are groundbreaking.”
The delivery team currently consists of 10 people – five people in Gemma’s team, and five people in Merel’s team.
This approach means that each member of the team receives individual coaching and training, rather than having one individual trying to manage 10 people, which would mean less time spent with each person.
Alongside the exciting clients that the delivery team can work with, there is also great cultural diversity within the team and the wider organisation in Panda.
Gemma’s journey at Panda has been one of fast progression and hard work.
“I’ve been working here for almost five years, and I am one of the most senior people aside from my Managing Directors and the Co-Founders. It means that I am in management meetings, and I’m involved in the more extensive year plans where we can go in depth.”
Within a few months of joining Panda, Gemma was promoted to Recruitment Consultant, and within a year was promoted again, this time to the role of Senior Consultant.
Gemma then went from Senior Consultant to Team Leader, with August 2022 being her most recent promotion to Manager – her journey has hardly been lacking in growth and potential!
Alongside career growth, Gemma does note that there has been a lot of personal growth.
“I’m definitely a better person than I was five years ago. I have a lot of tools to do my job well. Another thing I would say is that my development emphasises my ability now to lead and manage a team and analyse someone’s growth potential and needs.”
Firstly, Gemma acknowledges that recruitment can often have a poor reputation, specifically from her own experience interviewing candidates who have had poor experiences, or fellow recruiters in previous roles at other companies.
The thing that sets Panda apart from other recruitment companies, she says, is its culture of inclusion and equality.
“We focus a lot on inclusion and making sure everyone gets the same opportunities – there are no seniors sneaking by and grabbing things from new people because that’s only going to create a toxic environment.”
Instead, the people in Gemma’s team can see that their success is in their hands, and all of the support is there for them to truly take every opportunity and make it their own. The potential to develop an incredibly successful and lucrative career is available to everyone at Panda.
Secondly, many recruitment agencies can often be lacking in diversity, which isn’t the case at Panda, with over 12 nationalities in the company.
And thirdly, and arguably most importantly for those looking to start a dynamic and prosperous career in life sciences recruitment, Panda operates in a very ambitious market.
“The life sciences industry is complex, and you need to understand the jobs. The standards in our company are very high, and the general mindset is, ‘I have to be above average if I want to succeed.’”
This mindset isn’t even something that Gemma actively instils into her team, but instead, a mindset that is shared because the team is ambitious, and everyone wants to succeed. Every team member at Panda is fully invested in working for a fast-growing, ambitious and life changing organisation.
“We have too many benefits, so I’ll start with a few!”
From luxury Cartier and Rolex watches for hitting a €1 million revenue target, to monthly lunch clubs and four-day work weeks, Panda is hardly short of employee benefits to reward the ambition and hard work of employees.
The most important part about benefits, such as the four-day work week, Gemma describes, is the fact that they are relatively low-ball things because Panda wants employees to be able to enjoy these benefits.
“It’s all about you enjoying your job and making good ratios. It creates a sense of efficiency for people with their time, and people also have more headspace to become creative with their job.”
This approach to employee benefits also applies to areas of work-life balance, such as the free membership to Headspace, and a OneFit gym subscription.
Hard work doesn’t go unnoticed, either, with revenue target rewards such as annual salary increase, training or coaching programmes worth €2,000, or even paid weekends away for two.
And for those who start their career at Panda and know other people who would be ideal for the team, there’s even a referral bonus (currently €3,000 or €3,000 for a New York trip with fully paid flights).
“My bosses like to be a little bit extra with these things,” Gemma laughs, “I’m very happy with these though!”
With Panda’s strong stance on work-life balance and business growth, it’s unsurprising that Gemma believes strongly in the inclusivity and balance that the culture provides for everyone in the business.
“If people are happy in life, they are also better at their job, and that makes every individual successful, as well as the business overall.”
If you’re ambitious, motivated, and curious about working in life sciences recruitment, we’d love to help you develop your dream career at Panda.
You can join a rapidly growing market and make a positive impact, alongside receiving a comprehensive package of employee benefits, rewards, and career development opportunities.
Take a look at our vacancies to find out more.