Talent Leaders – Ellé Shum

October 24, 2023

Ellé is Co-Founder and Director of HUG, a next-generation digital recruitment agency specialising in placing tech talent within some of the most dynamic startups and scale-ups throughout the UK and EU.

Starting her career in 2018, Ellé has navigated the ups and downs of the recruitment field, realising early on that this was her long-term calling. With several years of experience working with top-notch agencies in the tech sector, she has distilled the valuable knowledge
she acquired and brought it to HUG. She has placed particular emphasis on nurturing relationships and fostering a personable approach to recruitment.

In addition to her role at HUG, Ellé has created a positive presence in the tech recruitment world. She serves as a Community Manager in The Talent Community (TTC), leading by example and setting high standards for the industry. Furthermore, she dedicates her time as
a Mentor with Femme Palette, where she serves as a positive role model for aspiring young individuals with ambitious dreams, aiming to inspire and help them excel in their passions and pursuits.


What do you think is the key to being successful as a Talent leader in the current business environment?

I believe the key to success is a combination of several essential factors.
Building Relationships: Establishing strong relationships can significantly contribute to your team’s success, especially in challenging market conditions. Cultivating connections with clients and industry peers can prove invaluable during tough times.
Adaptability: The ability to adapt and proactively respond to change is critical for long-term success. The market has shifted and leaders who prioritize these qualities and adjust to the current landscape will better position their teams to thrive, regardless of the business environment.
Resilience: Resilient leaders are better equipped to overcome obstacles, achieve results, and maintain a high-performing team. A leader’s ability to bounce back from challenges sets the tone for the entire team.
Effective Communication: Maintaining clear and transparent communication with both your team and external stakeholders is essential. This practice helps manage expectations, boost morale, and ensure everybody is on the same page.

In summary, a great talent leader leads by example, combining these skills to provide stability and guidance for their teams, ensuring that recruitment efforts remain effective even in the most challenging circumstances!

As a Talent leader, what is your key advice for managing your teams and people?

Exceptional leaders inspire and energize their teams. One of the most valuable pieces of advice I can offer is to create an environment where people can be themselves and promote a culture that empowers your team. You can empower your teams by fostering a culture of appreciation and trust. Give them the autonomy to work independently and be creative, while also offering guidance and feedback when needed. After all, if you hired someone, it’s because you believed in their capabilities! Understanding how each team member operates in various situations is also crucial. Not everyone has the same learning and working styles, so gaining a deeper understanding of your team builds trust and enhances collaboration. Lastly, be a motivating leader and acknowledge achievements when they happen. Demonstrating appreciation and supporting personal and professional growth can have a profoundly positive impact on the business. It keeps your teams engaged and driven to excel.

How has the role of a recruiter changed and what new skills do you think they need to possess and develop?

Recruiters have historically been referred to as ‘Recruitment Consultants.’ However, in comparison to when I first entered the industry, there’s a much stronger emphasis on being a genuine ‘Consultant’ and an SME in your field today. In the current climate, there is a significant focus on providing true consultancy, offering guidance, and establishing expertise in your domain. This really is the differentiating factor that sets apart excellent agency recruiters/internal talent acquisition professionals from the rest.

Being a recruiter in today’s market means embracing a multi-faceted role. You are no longer simply a job filler. You wear various hats: an ethical salesperson, a knowledgeable consultant, an advisor, a personal brand builder, a tech-savvy expert utilizing new recruitment tools, a data analyst who studies the market and trends to offer insights to both internal and external stakeholders, and so much more.

In addition to all these responsibilities/skills, I believe that to be a great recruiter in today’s market you must have a genuine passion for what you do and have a willingness to continue to evolve and learn as the market changes. Get this right and I’m sure you’ll be set for success!

What do you think is the biggest challenge and biggest opportunity facing Talent and Recruitment?

One of the most significant challenges we’re facing is the transition from the COVID-19 era, where many companies embraced remote work, to now entering a new phase where businesses are eager to bring employees back on-site. This shift makes it more challenging to place candidates into new positions as exciting as the roles may be due to many now expecting remote or hybrid work arrangements they’ve had, and a lot of these candidates have also adjusted their lives and living arrangements following this too. Also, the continuous evolution of recruitment technology and resources means that both agency and internal talent acquisition teams need to demonstrate their value more than ever in the current market.

What is the next stage of transformation for Talent Acquisition and Recruitment?

One of the significant shifts in the Talent Acquisition and Recruitment realm is the rapid advancement of technology in today’s world. In particular, AI is fundamentally changing how organizations approach attracting, engaging, and recruiting talent. AI is being used for many things from a talent perspective such as automated screenings, sourcing candidates, conducting video interviews, talent mapping, and promoting Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion initiatives.

From my perspective, while these new technologies are undeniably valuable, they should not replace the human touch. Instead, they should be viewed as tools that enhance our efficiency and effectiveness in our work.

How do you think external staffing solutions will partner and work with companies as we move forward?

As an agency owner myself, one thing I’ve increasingly noticed while working with both new and existing clients is the growing importance of the consultancy and advisory role. Businesses now expect and want genuine partnerships with external staffing solutions. Building on what I mentioned earlier about the recruiter’s evolving responsibilities, I believe that businesses will increasingly seek out and value highly agencies or RPO firms that are true experts in their fields and bring significant value to their operations.

These agencies go beyond just filling positions; they offer strategic support in areas such as devising hiring strategies, promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion through initiatives and education, providing insights to stay ahead of the competition in hiring processes, and offering data-driven analytics on market and candidate trends. I truly believe that agencies delivering this kind of value will not only endure but thrive.

Those agencies that solely focus on ‘job filling’ without offering any additional support may struggle to retain existing clients and win new business in the evolving market.’s Talent Leader Series seeks to share the view of leaders in the Talent space.

By sharing the thoughts and insights of these leaders will hopefully help the Talent industry as a whole as it explores new opportunities and faces new challenges.

If you are interested in participating please contact for more information.

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