As Acara’s Director of Talent Acquisition on the West Coast, Radhika Thusoo knows how to build a strong team. With two decades of recruitment experience, Radhika has expertise in a range of workforce solutions settings, from campus recruiting, to IT staffing and management. In this edition of Seeing Fit, Radhika advocates for curiosity and explains why everyday people are the best superheroes.
Her path before recruitment:
I was born and raised in India, but my dad was in the U.S. Army, so we traveled a lot. We spent some time in Africa and England. For my undergraduate degree, I studied clinical psychology at Delhi University, and then I went on to get my MBA in international business and HR.
How a trip to the store changed the course of her career:
One day, I was standing in line at the grocery store having a conversation with another woman in line, and a man standing a few spots behind me overheard my discussion. After I checked out, the man came up to me, introduced himself, and asked what I did or a living. Admittedly, it was an odd conversation to have with a stranger.
But, he was very friendly and seemed genuinely interested in what I had to say. So, I mentioned that I’d just started a family and that I was waiting for my child to get older until I went back into the workforce.
Surprisingly, the man asked if I’d ever considered a career in recruitment. He said that he overheard how I communicated with the woman in the checkout line and that he thought I would be a good fit for the industry. I told him I would be open to it, and he asked if I’d like to come in for an interview with his company, which performed recruitment on college campuses. As fate would have it, I got the job, and I’ve worked in recruitment ever since.
The move to Acara:
Acara provides a different kind of recruiting than what I was used to, but when I came in for an interview, I really liked the warm, welcoming environment. I started as a senior recruiter, and I was specifically brought in to grow one of our key accounts. Subsequently, the role and team both grew, and there were various promotions and plenty of upward mobility.
On her day-to-day responsibilities:
I am Director of Talent Acquisition for the West Coast, with key accounts and large programs all under my management. The program staff and recruiting staff report to me, and there’s a lot of coordination with operations. Key accounts change quickly—often within a couple of hours. If one of my teams is working on a specific shift for a week, and suddenly it changes to an entirely new focus, I have to quickly realign my team to account for the adjustment. In some organizations, making a change like this is like turning a big ship around. But at Acara, our flexible process allows us to make the turn swiftly while delivering service that satisfies our clients.
Why living the experience is key to managerial success:
I firmly believe that a successful leader has to have lived and breathed the intricacies of the job. They have to know what their team is going through firsthand. When you’ve worked in the trenches, lived through the challenges, and celebrated the successes, it helps you build relationships and identify what difficulties a person faces. I can address things from a recruiter’s perspective because I lived it for many years. I’ve seen people without a background in recruiting who have taken over operations, and it doesn’t work as well as when someone with real recruitment experience leads the way.
The best part of Acara:
The camaraderie at Acara is amazing. We’ve worked together for a long time and know each other really well, quirks and all. There’s not another group that I’d rather spend my time with. If somebody is having a bad day, we do everything possible to get that person out of their funk by talking to them and listening. Sometimes that’s all it takes.
How tuning in can boost morale and success:
Listening is important. Too often, people with relevant, unique, and interesting viewpoints are ignored. That’s detrimental not only to morale, but to the overall growth of a company. Here at Acara, if I’m talking to our President, he listens to what I think—it’s not just in one ear and out the other. That encourages me to speak up and contribute to our success. And in turn, I encourage my team to contribute their ideas during brainstorming sessions and group meetings.
On letting curiosity lead the way:
If you have the ability, interest, and curiosity to learn, it will take you far. Your job becomes just another job when you stop being curious, when you stop wanting to learn, and when you stop wanting to explore new things. If you let that happen, you’re just collecting a paycheck.
The changing landscape of recruitment:
Younger generations consider much more than pay rates and job responsibilities. They put a heavy emphasis on company culture, corporate social responsibility, and company reputation. These things are already important, and they’ll only increase in relevance in the next five to ten years. Recruitment is becoming much more holistic, considering how certain candidates fit not only with job requirements, but also with company identity and values.
On everyday superheroes:
I’m a huge Marvel fan, and Hawkeye is my favorite. He’s a normal human being, and he has no superpowers. Despite that, he excels at what he does, and he’s driven to do good. Isn’t that something we all strive to do? None of us have superpowers. Our jobs require hard work, dedication, and determination to get ahead. Every day, we compete with our peers, teams, and outside agencies to excel at what we do. Being a superhero in this type of environment is not dependent on supernatural powers—it is a product of our will to succeed.