By Nicole Tucker, ATAP Marketing Committee Member
There are several professional associations and communities that cater to the Human Resources field, but when searching for a similar home for Talent Acquisition, the profession I had made a career in for over 14 years, I was coming up dry. That is until ATAP. I joined ATAP in 2021 in search of a community of TA professionals and relevant resources.
As a newer member of the ATAP community and an even newer member of the ATAP Marketing Committee, I was grateful to be able to spend time with Sarah Peck, ATAP Board Member, to hear her perspective on ATAP, Talent Acquisition and what keeps us coming back for community.
For those who have not had an opportunity to connect with Sarah Peck, her joy for the talent acquisition profession is infectious. She joined ATAP in 2019 in search of finding “her people,” running into the similar problem I had encountered, there weren’t many places that focused on TA specifically. After finding and joining ATAP, she then connected with the Content Committee, working alongside Gerry Crispin, collecting articles for the “News You Can Use” newsletter. Later, after seeing a call for board members, Sarah saw joining the board as an opportunity to continue to give back to the community she loved.
Thanks again for meeting with me, Sarah. I’d love to start with how did you get your start in talent acquisition?
I started in sales. Sales was always equal parts rewarding and disappointing. I worked in mortgage sales, then textbook sales and insurance sales. What I learned from these experiences was an extraordinary level of resilience, which I then used when I moved into recruiting.
My first recruiting experience was recruiting traveling nurses, very tough sell. It opened me up to the world of recruitment though. I then moved into working for a recruitment agency before joining AEVEX.
A former mentor reached out to me about the position at AEVEX and timing was right as I was ready to move on from the agency. I applied and two days later I started. From there, I took over the recruitment function when AEVEX was acquiring other firms (we incorporated six over the last four years). Since then, my team has tripled in size.
Like many TA practitioners, I didn’t go to school for recruitment, but fell into it by accident. Recruiting is the best thing I’ve ever done, leading the team at AEVEX has been life changing. I love leading TA professionals, solving global strategy challenges, and making a daily impact at AEVEX.
That’s awesome Sarah! In your professional experience, what is most difficult about being a talent leader?
The most difficult thing about being a talent leader is managing your time so that you have opportunities for frequent interaction with your team. It often feels like all you do is get pulled into meetings and managing your time in such a way to maximize your interface with stakeholders is critical to achieving buy in for your ideas and maintaining high morale. I often feel I don’t have enough hours in the day and making every moment count remains a challenge.
And what is your favorite part about being a talent leader?
My favorite part about being a talent leader is my team. Experiencing their growth with them and seeing them transform into these incredible talent professionals is deeply rewarding. I like growing people, and this is the environment to do it in. I also do some work with transitioning veterans and being able to help someone through the most dramatic change in their life is something I’m incredibly proud of.
As you found yourself falling into Talent Acquisition and falling in love with it, what would you say to somebody who is just starting a career in Talent Acquisition?
Your network is your gospel. Actively reach out to network for answers and solutions. If you are looking to get into recruitment, you may need to start entry level, such as taking on a coordinator role. Maintaining the constant hustle will get you promoted and open other doors for you.
Some of the best advice I received in my career is “Act as if.” When I was recruiting and wanted to break into management a senior leader told me that leadership opportunities are all around you, and don’t necessarily come with a job title change. She helped me to see the value in everyday opportunities to lead and that attitude carried me forward into my current role where the sky’s the limit. I do a ton of research (joining ATAP and San Diego SHRM was part of that), but if I didn’t act as if it would have been for naught, and I wouldn’t have the confidence to capitalize on my knowledge.
That’s good advice! You had shared earlier that you joined ATAP looking for “your tribe” and your community. What about the ATAP mission excites you most?
I joined ATAP when I realized that I needed professional resources to help me grow the TA function at my company. I was doing it from scratch and didn’t always have the best answers to every situation I encountered. I researched available resources and found ATAP. The support network and resources I have drawn from ATAP have enabled me to successfully grow my team and the TA function at AEVEX Aerospace. Just the learning I do at Global TA Day alone has been incredibly beneficial, and with ATAP members volunteering to generate content I’m excited that we’ll be giving back even more in the future.
Also, I’m most excited about empowering TA professionals to grow their knowledge base and professionalize their operations. Whether you’re an entry-level recruiter or a senior TA leader, there is something ATAP offers that will benefit you. That’s why I am the Board Liaison for the Professional Development Committee because it’s my way of paying it forward.
I really enjoyed learning about your experiences and what brought you to ATAP, Sarah. Anything you’d like to share about what’s on the horizon with ATAP in the upcoming year?
Keep your eyes out for the awesome stuff ATAP will be doing! Dramatic changes for the community and a focus on professional development. If you want to get involved, join a committee and be the change you want to experience. Building relationships is critical as they are job security in this crazy environment!
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Sarah Peck, PRC, CIR, LSSGB, SPHR, SHRM-SCP is Head of Talent Acquisition for AEVEX Aerospace and receiving an MBA in Business Analytics Fall of 2022 from University of Massachusetts Amherst’s Isenberg School of Management. As a 17-year professional in Sales and Recruitment, Sarah serves on the Board of Directors for the Association of Talent Acquisition Professionals (ATAP) and is the 2022 VP of Programs for San Diego SHRM. Sarah is also an OnCon Top 10 Talent Acquisition Professional Icon Award winner for 2022. Sarah leads a geographically dispersed team of global talent acquisition professionals recruiting for Department of Defense and commercial Aerospace contracts. Helping AEVEX scale organically and through M&A is a persistent challenge in Sarah’s role. A San Diego native, Sarah enjoys beach days with her fiancé, riding bikes along the coast, and spending time with family.
With over 14 years of experience in the recruitment industry, Nicole is a passionate Talent Acquisition Leader who is focused on building award winning culture, growing diverse & inclusive teams, and elevating both employee and candidate engagement. Currently, as the Sr. Customer Strategist, Nicole works to provide iCIMS clients with industry insights through our Insights+ offerings as well as partnering with our Customer Experience organization on strategic programs and projects. Previously, she was the manager of the Talent Acquisition team at iCIMS, the world’s leading Talent Cloud, where she was responsible for leading the team of recruiters and sourcers who bring in the talented team members driving the success of our global company. NJ native, former Scarlet Knight (Go RU!) and mom to two rambunctious boys, Magnus & Thor!