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‘Persistence’ and ‘consistence’ keys for industry stalwart Gay Barton

If you had to use two words to describe Gay Barton’s remarkable career in recruitment, “persistence” and “consistence” would be at the top of the list.

The first got her into the recruitment industry 35 years ago and both have been the mainstays of her career since.

So, it’s not surprising they are also attributes she encourages members of her Drake team to embrace.

Now General Manager of Drake Medox New Zealand, specialising in medical and homecare recruitment and co-General Manager for Drake New Zealand, a specialist in recruitment services and talent management solutions, Gay was a primary school teacher and had also worked as a nanny in London when she decided to test the waters outside education in 1985.

“I needed to decide if I wanted to be a teacher for the rest of my life or try something different,” she recalls.

“I was looking for a job in sales, so I sent my CV to several recruitment agencies and about four of them agreed to see me.

“One put me forward as conference organiser and another put me forward for pharma company sales.

“Originally, Drake queried why I was looking for a job in sales because I was a teacher and had been a nanny overseas. But I spoke about my transferrable skills in selling ideas and got an interview.

“When I met with the consultant, he must have been impressed because he suggested I work for them as a customer service rep in the temp division.”

From there, Gay was quickly promoted to Service and Assignment Supervisor and then to Branch Manager after winning Drake’s highest performance reward -the 100% Club. IN 2011, she was promoted to her current roles.

Gay says that initial job application and interview taught her that you never know what opportunities will arise if you are willing to put yourself out there. That sometimes you have to be persistent, if you want to get noticed, but then you have to be consistent and deliver, if you want to get ahead.

“I’m not an extrovert, an out-there personality or a top-notch salesperson but being persistent and consistent have been big elements in my career,” she says.

It’s been a career littered with highlights, including managing the top Drake Overload branch worldwide in 1998, leading the New Zealand territory to becoming the most successful operation within Drake’s nine global territories and five times being honoured as a member of Drake’s coveted 100% Club.

In 1990, Gay was also chosen as one of only 40 people worldwide to attend the Managing for Growth Seminar in Toronto.

But you don’t spend 35 years in an industry, much less with the same employer, without a mix of highs and lows.

Gay says becoming a single mum in 1991 was one defining moment, as she took just 11 weeks off work before returning to juggle motherhood and a high-pressure management role.

As well as her “very supportive” parents, she says Drake also backed her because she had a track record of delivering and proving herself.

Another definitive moment in Gay’s career came in 2011, when her Drake bosses decided to move her sideways.

“I had been very successful for a number of years and was New Zealand General Manager of Drake but it was decided to bring someone else in to share that role and give me the added responsibility of General Manager of Drake Medox,” she says.

“So, I had a choice. Do I tell them I’ve had enough and exit or do I get stuck into my new role and deliver on that?

“I decided to get stuck into the new role and it worked out perfectly, because it enabled me to take a breather, slow down a bit and do the best I could in a new role.

“It was a career-defining moment as I focused on Medox, which has become one of the strongest parts of our business globally. And, as a result of the work that has been done over the years, we have been well positioned to make a positive impact once COVID-19 hit.

“So, whenever I recruit someone now I stress to them that everything is easy when things are going well but what about when the chips are down? Can they handle things then?

“I also tell them that there might be a lot of agents out there doing good things but at the end of the day it’s all about just working hard and doing the right thing. It’s not always about money and profitability, you also have to be authentic and do the right thing by people.”

Gay says some people are surprised when they hear she has been with the same employer for 35 years but the opportunities Drake provided had made the decision easy.

That included membership of the coveted 100% Club and overseas trips to exotic destinations such as Monte Carlo, Hong Kong, Moscow, Istanbul, Las Vegas and New York.

“I remember at one stage, many years ago, I got headhunted and I thought ‘why would I want to move when Drake has been so good to me?’,” Gay says.

“This industry, and Drake, has provided for me and my son and given us a really great life.

“I’m 64 now and have no thoughts of retiring when I hit 65. I’m hoping I can keep working for as long as I can keep achieving results.”

Over the years, Gay has held numerous volunteer roles with RCSA NZ Council and ANRA, as well as twice volunteering to be a mentor in the PEARL program.

“I believe it is a two-way street,” she says. “Certainly, I have worked hard and been persistent and consistent but Drake and the industry have been very good to me.

“I believe that giving that little bit extra is the right thing to do and I would encourage others to do the same.

“This is a good industry and one where you get the chance to make a real difference.”

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