Pioneering paths in recruitment: Leaders share their blueprint for success

Engage Sydney 2024 panel featuring Craig Sneesby, Samantha Miklos and Henry Gatehouse.

At Engage Sydney 2024, industry leaders such as Craig Sneesby, Samantha Miklos, and Henry Gatehouse gave us a real-world look at growing a recruitment agency. During their discussion moderated by Megan Lynch, they shared their experiences navigating challenges, making pivotal decisions, and leveraging technology to scale their businesses. This session provided actionable insights and inspiration for recruitment agencies aiming to navigate uncertainties and expand in 2024.

The essence of growth: A tale of evolution and learning

Sneesby started the session by recounting his journey from the early days that shaped his career. “I started in business support recruitment, which not many people know about me.” He continued, “Truthfully, I think it was the best place you could ever start in recruitment. It taught you the importance of speed and the knowledge of candidates.” Sneesby shared his background about personal growth and the evolution of U&U Recruitment Partners into a highly successful agency that champions candidates and clients across Australia.

Miklos shared her rich background in healthcare recruitment. From building her startup agency to now being highly sought after in the medical recruitment space. “It was survival at the start,” Miklos admitted. Today, 12 years on, Cornerstone Medical Recruitment still has an unyielding drive to fill the healthcare recruitment void in rural communities around Australia.

Gatehouse recounted the growth of Talenza, having started with four, they are now a team of 75 people. “It’s a game of two halves,” Gatehouse noted, navigating the pandemic when the business was only three years old. “There’s no silver bullet [for growth]”, Gatehouse stated. “You need to set your business up with the right pillars and people to allow you to grow. So our vision was to set up a business that would allow recruiters to come and work for us and be successful really quickly,” he continued.

Cultivating a culture of success

The conversation took a deep dive into the heart of recruitment agencies—their culture. Sneesby declared, “Culture is everything.” He shared insights into how U&U’s ethos of teamwork and collaboration is not just a value but a living, breathing practice that drives success. “One of the things we focus very heavily on is the cross-collaboration between different teams”, he said.

Miklos echoed the sentiment, highlighting the role of culture in navigating growth and change, particularly the challenges presented by technology upgrades and expansions. “We used culture to get us through those tough times,” she revealed, “it’s all those little things [team lunches, face-to-face training, and team outings], but it’s using those moments to bring everyone together.”

Gatehouse brought a unique angle, discussing how culture, underpinned by clear vision and values, not only shapes the internal environment but also extends its impact outward, fostering community engagement and social responsibility. “It’s about pushing culture to make people feel they have a purpose,” Gatehouse said, bridging the gap between personal growth and business success.

Strategic investments: The key to unleashing potential

A significant highlight of the discussion was the emphasis on strategic investment in people, technology, and culture. The panellists shared candid insights into their decision-making processes and how these investments have fueled their growth trajectories.

Gatehouse stated, “We realised if we were going to continue to grow and get bigger, we needed something a bit more holistic.” Talenza is leveraging Bullhorn’s data analytics and automation tool to provide the information its business needed to continue its strong growth. “It allowed us to see forward sales momentum,” he pointed out.

Reflecting on the evolution of Cornerstone Medical Recruitment, Miklos emphasised the importance of investing in people who bring a wealth of experience and expertise. “Once we got to 70 people, we realised we had to recruit those who had walked the path we were about to walk,” Miklos explained. Her insight highlighted the pivotal role of investing in talent. Miklos then spoke of Cornerstone’s move to Bullhorn for Salesforce, emphasising that the decision was driven by the need for systems that solve current challenges and anticipate future growth. “It’s about leveraging tech to give the team a better experience,” she stated.

Sneesby’s narrative was particularly compelling as he introduced an innovative approach to supporting his team at U&U: funding childcare for all staff members. “It’s about changing the world of work,” Sneesby stated, revealing the initiative to make the workplace more inclusive and supportive for working parents. This move not only sets a new standard for employee benefits but also reflects a deep understanding of the challenges faced by today’s workforce.

Navigating uncertainty with agility and foresight

In an industry as dynamic as recruitment, navigating uncertainty is a valuable skill. The panellists shared how they’ve managed risk and seized opportunities amidst fluctuating market conditions.

Sneesby spoke to the essence of being risk-aware but not risk-averse. “Risk is the secret spice,” he reiterated, sharing how strategic risks have been instrumental in U&U’s growth and resilience, particularly during uncertain times like the pandemic.

Miklos highlighted the significance of trusting one’s gut instinct and making bold moves, even when they seem counterintuitive to external observers. “We signed an agreement for office space double the floor space we had,” Miklos shared.

Gatehouse pointed out the strategic importance of diversification for Talenza in terms of services and geographic presence to mitigate risk. “We’re trying to de-risk our business by looking at other industry sectors,” Gatehouse noted.


By the end of their session, the panellist covered how important it is to stay resilient, to keep innovating, and to make smart choices, especially when it comes to tech and building a workplace where everyone feels supported and included.

If you’re looking for more insights from Engage Sydney, check out the 2024 Content Hub.

Subscribe to the Recruitment Blog

Subscribe for trends, tips, and insights delivered straight to your inbox.