15 Nov 2018

Dee's story: A Head of People who means business


As the newly recruited Head of People, Dee Murphy has come on board at a pivotal time as Propel evolves and grows. Propel is already the leader in recruitment for the digital economy but our goal is to expand the business even further through developing the company values and ethos. This is where Dee comes in…

What were you doing before working at Propel?

I’m an organizational psychologist by trade so I’ve spent the last 10 years scaling companies from the inside out.  I worked with mainly tech companies on everything from the employer brand to the candidate experience, interview process, employee engagement, training and development, so that people left the company as “super fans”. At my last job I was Head of Employer Branding for an online recruitment platform, where I worked with the client to try and pinpoint their true company culture. Employer branding is now big business because companies have realized that you need to be able to attract the best possible talent to and make your business work – so you’re not constantly fighting fires.

What attracted you to working at Propel?

In the bulk of the companies I’ve worked at, in terms of employer branding and employee engagement, 70% of the work is involved in trying to get people at the top echelons of the company to change. In that respect, Propel is a rare diamond kind of company. That’s because it has transparency and communication from the top, as well as the openness to change. The reason why I’m working at Propel is because I’ve never gone through an interview before where I knew exactly who I was dealing with and who they want to be. They put a lot of work into that too because they know it takes a long time to get to the point where the values and mission are 100% accurate. They also know you have to work hard to instill those values into the people that work here. Genuinely, that’s the reason I chose to join Propel over other companies.

So what’s first in the pipeline?

I already have the next six months of my work at Propel mapped out. The first priority is to really identify what our mission and values are – we have these on the wall and I think they’re phenomenal. The key is to make sure these are values that you can really embed within the company. The next step is to ensure all the people we hire are the right fit for the company culture and aligned with the profile of the people we need. Another priority is meeting with every single person in the company and getting their views on their progression, their direct managers and senior managers, and their opinion of Propel as a company. We will then deal with any issues and create a new organizational strategy around this, which might involve training and development programmes.

How does your role differ to a traditional HR resource?

Many companies only go down the path of traditional administrative HR rather than appoint a change manager. However, if you think of it this way; traditional HR sees people constantly putting out fires. Whereas with my role, I help stop fires from breaking out in the first place. The six-month point is really only when we will start seeing change – but many companies would only usually have someone like me in for this amount of time, then I’d leave. Having me work in a company like Propel full time is ideal as that’s where you start to see real change, rather than having a change manager on a short retainer.

What are your impressions of Propel so far?

I’m only a few days into the role here but I can already see that there are an awful lot of very happy people here, but we need to get them working to their capacity to make sure they’re as brilliant as they can be – without sacrificing the enjoyable working environment. Transparency and authenticity are the two ingredients which make up a really strong organizational culture.  And Propel has plenty of this, so I feel like everything else is going to be a breeze!

What are the challenges and opportunities associated with working with a young workforce?

In the main, having a young workforce is a good thing. Young people bring energy, drive, enthusiasm and a real willingness to learn to the table. Plus, they’re really open to change with the right nurturing and guidance. Recruitment is one of those industries that some people naturally gravitate towards and they’re a phenomenal fit for it.  On the flip side, other people go into it because they’re not really sure what they want to do.  Either way, my aim is to make sure we only hire the absolute best. 

I worked as a career coach for graduates and MBA students for five years.  So, I know the psychological make-up of young people and how best to help them develop their kind of career path. Their ambitions are extremely high, but they want very rapid development. The key is to hang on to superstar team members who are doing exceptional work. But at the same time, you need to help them understand they can rest on their laurels and to help them develop more, even though they’re hitting their targets already. 

Tell me about your dog, Mojo

I bring Mojo into the office every day because he is a joy! Animals have a massively positive effect on people in general, right?  He just brings kind of a positive vibe and seems to make the place a little better.  I’ve been lucky that at every place I’ve worked at, they’ve been really open to having Mojo work his magic in the office.


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