HR Leader logo
Stay connected.   Subscribe  to our newsletter

Successful female business owner in discussion with The HR Leader

By Jack Campbell | |6 minute read
Successful female business owner in discussion with The HR Leader

Michelle Novotny, managing director of Discovering People, spoke with The HR Leader about her journey to establishing her recruitment consultancy, whether gender has affected her career, and the importance of connecting with your clients.

Shandel McAuliffe, HR Leader editor: “What inspired you to start Discovering People?”

Ms Novotny: “In my upbringing I was always exposed to family businesses. From an age of 13, I was working in a general store with one of my uncles and I had this real passion to help people and talk to people.


“As I progressed in my schooling and decided what was I going to do after that, I always had in the back of my mind that I wanted to have my own business. I didn't know what that was going to look like but there was always something there that put me down that path of perhaps starting my own business. I was lucky enough to land a recruitment consulting position when I moved to Sydney and without any experience, they gave me an opportunity to be trained as a recruitment consultant and I absolutely loved it.

“A lot of other things were happening in my life, getting married and so forth, and I had that feeling that it was time that I went out and did something for myself and with a lot of support from my husband, I decided to start up my own recruitment agency. I think there was a little bit of naivety in that as well. Not having a lot of experience in running a business. But it was something that I was exposed to when I was growing up in family businesses and having that curiosity of ‘How can I help people achieve what they're looking at achieving?’”

Editor: “Do you feel gender (and being female) has had an effect on your career?”

Ms Novotny: “It really hasn't had an impact on my career, directly. I guess maybe initially with starting the business, with not having access to the capital required to start up a business at the ideal level in terms of having budget to perhaps employ people immediately … employ people that are already experienced, so that they can really place a big injection into the business to bring in business.

“Directly, I had a lot of support from my family especially, and the entry into starting a recruitment agency is not really that costly. So, at the time it was just a matter of renting an office, making sure you paid your phone bill because you were using that quite a lot with marketing calls, trying to bring in business and having a desk and a chair for candidates to come in and to interview them. It was a fairly low entry capital point to actually open your recruitment agency doors.
“So, me personally, no, there wasn't a lot of challenge there, but I understand that there's something like only 12% of women hold ASX 200 executive positions. It's a very male dominant world out there. but I think that's slowly, certainly, changing; I think there's a lot of opportunity for women to fulfil their career aspirations.”

Editor: “I know that you’re passionate about giving people a go. Can you tell us a bit more about that?”

Ms Novotny: “Look at giving people an opportunity, a go, even though they may not have the exact experience or skill to fill that particular position. It's very rewarding for everybody involved. The person coming into the role, giving them an opportunity to develop their skills and their career, and an opportunity from my point of view as a manger and business owner to build that person to truly suit what my business needs.

“It's very rewarding to actually bring in somebody that is relatively under-skilled in that particular position and build them up to perform very well in that position.”

The transcript of this podcast episode, when quoted above, was slightly edited for publishing purposes. The full conversation with Michelle Novotny is below.





The practice of actively seeking, locating, and employing people for a certain position or career in a corporation is known as recruitment.

Jack Campbell

Jack Campbell

Jack is the editor at HR Leader.