Industry Profiles: It’s Iceberg Founder & Director Anna O’Dea

Industry Profiles: It’s Iceberg Founder & Director Anna O’Dea

Melbourne’s recruitment Agency Iceberg’s expertise is boutique to large size agencies within the Account Services and Digital sectors. Recruitment expert Anna O’Dea shares with B&T her industry hero, her pet hate and what she would change if she took Turnbull’s job.

What’s your backstory?

I actually fell into recruitment during the GFC after being made redundant. Like a fish to water, I loved it, so moved to Sydney from my hometown of Melbourne.

Launching the first media division of Julia Ross Recruitment (now Chandler McLeod) in Sydney for their flagship office in Martin Place in 2010, I then moved to Melbourne to join Firebrand Talent, heading up the agency desk. Under 30, I was promoted to lead and develop the Melbourne office, becoming a top five national biller for the business.

When I hit 30, that’s when I knew it was time to take my learnings and start my own business. In 2014, Agency Iceberg was born.

If you weren’t doing this job, what would you be doing?

I’m an adrenaline junkie, so probably a RedBull stuntwoman or tornado chaser!

Who’s your industry hero?

While many successful women inspire me, I’ve yet to meet a leader changing the game of recruitment. You can teach someone how to run a successful business, but you can’t teach ethics or honesty. That’s a huge reason why I decided to start Agency Iceberg. No quick fixes, no burning bridges (sadly, two common areas plaguing the recruitment industry).

What would you change about the industry?

One of the most concerning trends I have seen emerging is attitudes to returning mothers in the workforce. Senior leaders are hesitant to hire returning to work mothers (not fathers) for concerns they won’t deliver, or drop client deadlines to care for their children (an attitude which doesn’t apply to men).

The effect is startling. Only a quarter of females hold senior (not account service) related roles; less of whom have progressed to roles of creative director roles or higher. The reasons for this are complex; and as senior leaders we have a responsibility to address this.

When women leave the workforce, everyone loses. Businesses lose valuable resources, IP (expensive to replace) and by proxy, the lack of visibility means younger female workers aren’t exposed to role models in senior roles.

What’s one piece of advice you’d give your younger self?

Choose your battles. Know your worth. Don’t compromise your morals – ever.

What’s one thing not many people know about you?

I’ve sung at the Royal Melbourne Show – give me the stage, anytime!

What’s your quirkiest attribute?

I have ‘musical eyebrows’. I can dance my eyebrows up and down to the rhythm of any song!

What’s your pet hate?

Dishonesty in the workplace. I believe two parties can negotiate and do business without any need for shady tactics. It’s not my style.

If you could be Prime Minister for a week, what would you do?

I’d set up systems to advocate for the rights of others. I have a long list!

  • Passing the gay marriage vote and allocating funding towards hosting as many gay marriages as possible within my 7-day time frame! It’s crazy that this is still not legal in Australia.
  • Implement tougher laws and penalties for people whom harm others.
  • Fund public awareness and education programmes to educate people about the factors, which lead to violence towards women.
  • Allocate funding, housing, support legal protection, health services and educational support for refugees arriving in Australia.
  • Allocate funding towards Women’s heath clinics, contraception and reproductive health services to support families in need.
  • Revise adoption laws to assist those who can’t have biological children to give them opportunities to be a loving and caring parent.

What’s your favourite kind of cheese?

I was never a cheese lover until I lived in the UK discovered this food luxury! Brie is my fave, followed by Cheddar for jaffles / toasties and bocconcini on top of a parma – wow!

Tea or coffee?

I can meet so many people in any given week, I have to pace my caffeine intake! Coffee in the morning, lemon tea with hot water in the afternoon, gumboot tea if meeting a client and Earl Grey with a teaspoon of honey with family.

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