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A Day in the Life: Director of Global Recruiting, Abt Associates

by Karen Amatangelo-Block

When I think about it, my days as a coxswain on the Women's Rowing Team at the University of Michigan prepared me more for the rest of my life than I ever imagined. I have an affinity for working in a group and I am motivated when the road ahead is more challenging than not. My days are spent coaching and providing direction to a team, and navigating the smoothest route to the finish line. While calm, open water is the easiest, I am most driven to push forward when the water ahead is not always smooth.

I recently changed jobs after working nearly a decade and a half in recruiting at large law firms. Now I head up the global recruiting team at Abt Associates, a consulting firm with 2,300 staff worldwide that focuses on health, social and environmental policy, and international development. Years ago I practiced law for a short time and decided to try legal recruiting.

It was the boom and I was in Silicon Valley, so times were good. Somehow, I stuck it out through the crash, through having three children and returning to work after each child, and through attending too many law student interview functions to remember. Truth be told, I never felt stuck, I felt lucky. Early in my career I figured out that I was pretty good at a job I enjoyed. But eventually, as I thought more about raising my children and my role, I wanted to make a change. I landed in a position where I continue to lead a recruitment function, but at a company quite different than a large law firm.

8:30 Arrive at the office in search of coffee. We are not a law firm – you make your own coffee.

8:45 Log in to input time from prior day. As a federal government contractor, we track our time. While on the intranet, peruse the Abt internal headlines about a recent health conference in Ethiopia and an update on our Agriculture Behavior Change Methodology Training in Ghana.

9:00 Meet with a division vice president to discuss senior hiring needs. Our health practice is growing. As you can imagine, with the focus on healthcare and our aging population, finding key talent in health research and policy evaluation areas are a significant need.

10:00 Recruiting Staff Meeting. Our staff was without a director for many months. Getting them to work as a group and share resources is a weekly theme. They humor me and put up with my "fresh perspective." I ask them to each do a presentation on how their specific skills and expertise can be used to benefit others on the team (e.g. using LinkedIn, proposal recruiting, international hiring, etc.).

11:00 Assimilation meeting with a division director of operations. As a part of my introduction, my boss, the Chief People Strategist, directed me to get out and meet Abt leadership. All of the feedback on our recruiting support has not been positive, but now I have a clear understanding of the expectations of the divisions. Note to self—manage expectations, priority number one.

12:00 Lunch. There are "Lunch and Learn" opportunities where you can hear from one of Abt's technical experts on a recent project. Today's is on a family planning project in Jordan. Often I try to grab lunch with a new colleague or friend. But more often, lunch is similar to what it was in law firm recruiting: I pick up a salad and head back to my desk to get a chapter read of my latest Kindle book or finish up emails to my daughter's Girl Scout troop about this weekend's outing or arranging a soccer car pool.

1:30 Weekly recruiting meeting with division. Most of our divisions have weekly updates attended by recruiters and division representatives. We learn of new key positions or update the group on top candidates or challenges to recruitment and discuss networking ideas. It seems the Nigeria project is a much tougher position to fill than Vietnam where we many strong candidates.

2:30 Emails. Draft a strategy memo for targeting a key graduate school. Work on interview training PowerPoint.

3:30 Call with a headhunter to provide feedback on a senior project leader position search.

4:00 Emails. Catch up with team or other HR staff. Emails. More emails.

5:30 Head home to pick up children, drop them off at sport practices, and occasional volunteer meetings.