BY Dave Mendoza, Adjunct Faculty, JobMachine

Maha Akiki

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Six Degrees: Tell us of your home world.

Maha: My husband and I recently celebrated our ten year anniversary. We have two boys. Damian is 6 ½ and Aidan is almost 2 years old. Princy, the cat, has allowed me to share her space for the past 12 years.

Damian started first grade in September, and this is his third year attending a French school. He is already the star mathematician in his class, and is a very good reader. Aidan is on his way to becoming champion of “How to get what I want,” as all three of us spoil him rotten – except for Princy, she goes into hiding whenever he approaches.

We’re a multicultural household. I was born in Lebanon, lived in Greece for five years, in Southern California for two years, before settling in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, where I met my husband who was born in Egypt.

Both of us had travelled a lot in our childhood, and extended that into our adult life. Even Aidan is shaping up to become a world traveler, having been to Greece at the age of 8 months. He will have difficulties catching up to his older brother though, who has already been to Greece (twice), Spain, Italy, and Jamaica – he can also claim being to Egypt and Lebanon when he was in mommy’s tummy.

Six Degrees: How many years as a recruiter?

Maha: I have been in recruitment for the past ten years, starting as a third party recruiter, and moving into the corporate recruitment world shortly after. I have been working as an Independent *Corporate* Recruiter for the past 6 years.

Six Degrees: How did you get started as a recruiter?

Maha: I always knew I wanted to be a recruiter when I grew up. No, not really. With a BSc. in Psychology, and having completed my Masters coursework in Marriage, Therapy, and Child Therapy, at the University of La Verne (California), I had no knowledge of the existence of that species.

I came to Toronto 12 years ago, and had my first exposure to Agency Recruiters. I found myself more interested in what they did, as opposed to the job they were telling me about. I knew then, it was a career I needed to learn more about.

I started recruiting for the engineering industry, and did that both as an agency recruiter, as well as working for a Consulting Engineering company. I also worked in the Finance Industry, and later found my niche in the Life Sciences industry, whether be it pharma, biotech, lab equipment, or, currently, medical devices.

Six Degrees: What single event had the most impact on your sourcing/recruiting career?
Maha: I cannot think of one single event that strongly impacted my career in recruitment, or left a significant mark in my life as a recruiter. I believes it was a series of small *dents.* I, like many others, never had any formal training in recruitment. I was lucky, though, to have started around the same time the internet was becoming more “public.”

And in 1999, I discovered ERE (at the time when was free, and information on the internet was more free-flowing), and became an avid reader of each and every article, every forum - there were no blogs then -, and even had the opportunity to attend one of Barbara Ling’s seminars in 2000.

As more personalities emerged and forged a name for themselves in the world of recruitment, I followed them – okay stalked them. As more tools became available, I grabbed them (thank you Shally for the LinkedIn invite in 2004), and learnt how to use them.

As communities were built, I became part of them. And I read, and I studied, and I tried, and I failed, and I succeeded. And when I look back at my life, I can say that, ten years later, those small dents definitely left a big mark.

Do you have a mentor to whom you attribute your overall outlook on recruitment, capabilities, and/or model your career after?

Maha: I owe a lot of my on-the-job learning to Art Boyle, my boss at Canpro Executive Search. When I worked with him back in 2000-2001, he was the owner of an exclusively retainer agency. Art did not post his roles. He did not believe in job boards, or even in Newspaper ads. Cold calling and getting references were his tools. He taught me how to use those tools; and he taught me the power of forging relationships, not only with the hiring managers, but more importantly with the candidates. Whether you have placed them, or not, he believed, one day you will need that individual on the other side of the line; either to place in two, three years from now, when they have gained more experience, or to ask for a referral; or maybe, even, as a client.

Six Degrees: Tell us about your work

Maha: When I take on a contract, I am often a sole recruiter supporting the organization. As a corporate recruiter, I support all businesses in their recruitment needs, and manage vendors.

I am involved in all aspect of the recruitment process, from assessing and understanding the needs of a hiring manager, and how it relates to the company objectives; sourcing; screening; interviewing; feedback; reference checking; and negotiating and presenting the offer.

Six Degrees: (A) What other companies' recruiting operations do you admire or have heard are best-practice examples?

Maha: Organizations in Ontario have a long way to go to become leaders in recruitment, and, unfortunately, I cannot think of a company which I can say stands out from the crowd.

Six Degrees: What recent general news story or industry trend do you feel will have an impact on your work in the future? Why?

Maha: One cannot hide from the current situation and the economical downturn. Will it negatively impact my current consulting role? At this time, I don’t think so. While other companies are downsizing, we are still going strong, and looking at increasing the workforce by 50% within the next six months.

Six Degrees: What is your next career goal? What do you need to do to get there?

Maha: To keep doing what I am doing. Keep learning, and improving. I enjoy working on a consultant basis, joining a new company, looking at how they view recruitment, showing them the value of recruitment, improving their process, and most importantly bringing new talent on board.

Recommendations For Maha

“I had the pleasure of working on the same team with Maha @ IDEXX and partnered with her on several occassions. Besides being a delight to work with, Maha brings a professionalism and wealth of experience to the table which is invaluable. I highly recommend Maha's work and hope to partner with her in the future.” May 19, 2008
Ann-Marie Abbott, Contract Healthcare Recruiter, IDEXX Laboratories

“Maha is a well-rounded recruiter with experience in the corporate, staffing, and executive recruitment fields. She brought a wealth of strengths to our team including knowledge of the Canadian market, outstanding sourcing and research skills, creativity, technical savvy, and professionalism. She is a seasoned recruiter capable of learning quickly and tackling new challenges. It was a pleasure having Maha on my team. I counted on her expertise to launch a successful recruiting program across Canada.” May 14, 2008
Cydney Runions, Sr. Recruiter (Reference Labs Recruiting Manager), IDEXX Laboratories, Inc.

“Maha is an exceptional Recruiter and team member. Though Maha and I had a long distance working relationship, we worked extremely well together. Maha is very detail oriented and has great work ethic. Maha always made herself available for questions and had excellent follow through. Maha was able to work through difficult situations by keeping a calm presence. She will be missed!” May 13, 2008
Jessica Warren, Employment Coordinator, IDEXX Laboratories

“Maha was a very responsive, knowledgeable & trusted member of HR who greatly facilitated my integration into Bayer.” March 12, 2008
Rahul Ghosh, Brand Manager, Bayer Inc.

“Maha is truly a professional in her field. She has a keen sense of urgency that I appreciate as a salesforce manager. Her expertise and ability to screen potential hires has enabled me to focus on what I need to do and mimimize my time interviewing poor candidates. It has been a pleasure working with Maha.” April 27, 2006
Ernie Chow, Corporate Recruiter, Amex

“Maha and I worked together at American Express, although our time was brief she showed extreme professionalism in her work.” February 27, 2006
Ted Pierni, Manager, Talent Acquisition, American Express

“It was a privilege to have had the opportunity to work with Maha at Amex. She is a professional, resourceful and dedicated Recruiter. She is a master at building relationships, sourcing candidates and ensuring that her clients' needs are met. It was truly a pleasure working with and getting to know Maha.” February 23, 2006
Mariam Medina, Corporate Recruiter, Amex Canada Inc.

“I had the priviledge of working with Maha during her tenure with American Express. I found her to be a very positive, enthusastic and dedicated Recruiter. Maha's ability to build relationships with her Business Leaders was evident in the feedback our department received with regards to her performance. As a colleague she was great to work with and with her great sense of humour, great fun.” February 20, 2006
James Britton, Corporate Recruiter, American Express

“It was a pleasure working with Maha at American Express. We were able to not only develop a professional relationship but a personal one as well. She is very knowledgeable in her field of recruiting, and will continue to keep in touch hoping our paths will cross again in the future.” February 19, 2006
Natasha Wakefield, Recruiter, American Express

“Maha is the epitome of today's corporate recruiter: She's highly resourceful; research oriented; technologically savvy; and adept at relationship building.” February 19, 2006
Nigel Peña, Human Resources Business Partner, Wyeth

“I highly recommend Maha for her exceptional ability to build networks which exponentially impact her ability to connect her clients with top caliber talents. Maha is a very talented and ethical person and her work was greatly appreciated at Wyeth.” April 3, 2006
Peivand Pirouzi, Ph.D., M.B.A., Professor / Corporate Trainer in Clinical Pharmacology, Wyeth Pharmaceuticals

“I highly enjoyed working with Maha. She is a very solid hands on HR person who has a sense of urgency in booking interviews for talented candidates and as well, is fair when reviewing candidates' backgrounds. It felt like a team working towards the same goal. February 13, 2006
Linda Boufford, Wyeth

“As a fellow ERE contributor with Maha I have observed first hand a sharp intelect and willingness to explore all options to get the job done.” December 22, 2004
Shally Steckerl

“I worked closely with Maha during a major pharmaceutical sales force expansion. A large project such as this can be a stressful time. However, Maha's ability to prioritize and exceptional time management skills allowed the project to come to a successful conclusion. She was a pleasure to work with and she treated me - her supplier - as a full member of the team. A true professional!” December 22, 2004
Laird Holms, Recruitment Consultant/Recruitment Specialist, RBC

“I was impressed with Maha's resourcefulness in finding passive candidates and her professionalism in dealing with all levels of staff.” February 25, 2006
Alexandra Small, Bilingual Recruiter, RBC Financial

“I have known Maha for about three years. She's a pleasure to work with, knowledgable and extremely professional. What she did best was partnered with the business and clients. She will be an asset to any team she joins.” February 15, 2006
Ryan Lutchman

“I worked with Maha at RBC. Maha is a great person, she excels in everything she does. She is full of knowledge and always willing to share her information with others. Maha is a solid HR/Recruitment professional.” February 14, 2006
Cathy Taylor, Talent Acquisition Specialist, Ceridian

“Maha and I worked together on a hiring project for RBC Financial Group in 2002. Her dedication, expertise, and communication were invaluable as we faced high volumes and tight deadlines. She is a true teamplayer!” December 28, 2004
Tina Iantorno, Recruitment Consultant, RBC Financial Group

“Maha is one of the most professional and respectful recruiters I have ever worked with, offering a high degree of integrity, creativity in her candidate sourcing, a clear focus, and a calm and clear-headed approach to managing any challenge. Maha was a lead contributor to RBC's critical recruitment initiatives.” December 22, 2004
Lisa Kruger, Recruitment & Retention Specialist, RBC Financial Group

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Replies to This Discussion

Maha is great! ;) love this post ~ thanks Dave for her feature. Wonderful professional & fun :) Happy Holidays! xo!
A Master's in therapy? Sounds like the perfect introduction to recruiting! Maha is a delight to talk with. We also met at Recruitfest this year.

All the best.
Thanks Dave for the profile ! yes, Maha is exceptional ! as a friend AND Recruiter. She sets the standard high and pushes me to excellence
Maha is a bright example of "being all you can be" in our world! Thanks for the chance to get to know you better Maha.
Dave ~ What a wonderful display of talent in our community is Mrs. Maha Akiki. If you decided to do another feature, Maha would be a fantastic choice! Just think about how much she has accomplished since this post was released? Her dynamic ability to grow was put to the test and proved once more.

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