In Her Shoes | Lauren Grew, Manager, Baringa

Lauren Grew, manager BaringaI grew up in Manchester but decided to venture to Wales for University – studying Psychology. After university I joined a professional education company and spent just over a year working firstly as a Trainer and then as a Project Manager, before traveling the length and breadth of South America. It was whilst traveling that I decided to make the move to London – I joined the Deloitte graduate scheme in 2010 and got my first taste of management consultancy.

In my three years at Deloitte, I worked across a range of sectors from financial services and Government, to wholesale energy and logistics. Whilst I enjoyed my time at Deloitte (and even met my long-term partner there), I had always wanted to work in the third sector, so took a role as a Programme Manager for Save the Children. The experience was fantastic and I learnt a lot, but I was used to the fast pace of consultancy and missed working with different clients. I’d heard great things about a consultancy called Baringa Partners and following a stand-out recruitment process, I joined as a Senior Consultant in January 2015.

I’ve since worked in Ireland – leading a major procurement, then back in the UK focusing on Smart Metering and was recently promoted to Manager off the back of these two successful engagements. In addition to my client roles, I’m actively involved in Baringa’s Balance initiative – which is tasked at looking at our ways of working, processes and practices to ensure we recruit, retain and support a diverse workforce throughout their career – something I’m hugely passionate about.

On a typical workday, how do you start your day and how does it end?

I’m a morning person, so typically my day starts with either going to the gym or getting into the office for about 8am. I find I can be very productive during the hour between 8am and 9am and tend to use it to clear any outstanding emails and plan the day ahead.

I’m based full-time on client site at the moment and my days tend to consist of a mixture of meetings, workshops and desk-based activity. I am a big fan of to-do-lists and at the end of each day, I outline what I need to do for the next whilst it’s fresh in my mind.

Work-life balance as a consultant has its challenges so it is important that you manage your time effectively – for me I have specific nights where I work a bit later to allow me some flexibility for the reminder.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

No – when I was five I proudly announced that I wanted to be a milkshake maker. Since then I’ve decided on a number of careers from Manchester United’s Physio, to CEO of a global company.

It’s important to do something that you enjoy and set goals to help steer your progression. However, I don’t advocate that everyone needs to sit down and plan out their career – opportunities will present themselves and you need to be flexible enough to recognise and capitalise on them.

I became a Consultant as it fitted both my skills and personality well. It continues to provide me with the variety of work that I love – with each client representing a new challenge to work through.

What do you love about working for Baringa?

In a nutshell – the culture. Baringa doesn’t operate like your typical consultancy and I know it sounds glib but there is a real community feel to it. It’s the small things that make a difference, like the fact that our Managing Partner, Adrian, knows the names of all 500 people that work here. Or that a few days after I’d started, one of the Partners sat me down and talked me through the range of roles that were coming up to make sure my first one would be a good but challenging fit.

Aside from the interesting and varied client work, I also enjoy the range of internal projects that I get the opportunity to work on. As Baringa is a medium-size consultancy, I frequently find myself in sessions with our senior partner team, which besides keeping me on my toes, provides a level of exposure that I wouldn’t normally have access to at this stage of my career.

Have you faced any challenges along the way and if so, how did you overcome these challenges?

I’m dyslexic – it affects my short-term memory (you’ll never see me without my notepad) as well as aspects of my numeracy and written skills. Over the years I’ve developed a number of strategies and have learnt what works best for me – this means that most people would never know unless I told them. However, as a bit of a perfectionist I often find myself getting frustrated if I feel I’m struggling with something as a result of my dyslexia.

On a recent project I happened to share this fact with one of my colleagues who replied “ah – well that it explains it then.” “Explains what?“ I said. “Your resolute attention to detail”. Being dyslexic has resulted in me always taking detailed notes, playing back what I’ve taken from a conversation and reading anything I’ve written several times – all good skills any consultant should have.

How have you benefited from coaching, mentoring or the sponsorship of others?

On the job coaching and working with talented senior colleagues has always proven the most effective for me. I’ve found that at Baringa, people are always happy to sit down and talk through a problem with you, offering insights or past experience to help guide your approach. I’ve also got direct access to a great support network, from a dedicated Advisor to a number of colleagues, both senior and junior – I’m never short of someone to learn from or reach out to if I’m unsure how to proceed with either a work or personal issue.

Do you believe in the power of networking? If so, where do you network?

Yes, I’m a huge advocate of keeping in touch with previous clients I’ve worked for/alongside. It continues to surprise me how often I run into them again and how good they are at making introductions to other people in the industry. It was a previous colleague that I met at an event for a mutual ex-client who suggested I join Baringa.

I’m also actively involved with Baringa’s internal diversity network – Balance Baringa and have had the pleasure of attending a number of gender focused events with We Are The City and The Network of Networks. Through this I’ve had the opportunity to engage with numerous inspiring women and men.

What advice can you give to our members about raising their profiles either inside or outside their own organisations?

If you concentrate on doing good work then it will be recognised and remembered. What’s also helped me in the past is getting involved with internal projects that span across the business –helping to establish a broader profile. It also doesn’t hurt to be famous for something – it could be that you’re a subject matter expert in solar energy or the go-to person for junior recruitment, people are more likely to remember you if they can associate you with something that is both positive and tangible.

What advice would you give to those who aspire to a career in consultancy?

If like me you enjoy variety, new problems to solve and get a buzz from delivering challenging work, then consultancy is the career for you.

You should be prepared to work hard, be flexible and not worry that you don’t know all the answers. Remember that you’ve got a 500-strong team back at base ready to help support you.

What does the future hold for you?

I was recently promoted to Manager, so I’m aiming to continue on this positive trajectory, hopefully adding some international experience to my CV as well.

More broadly, I’ll continue to raise my external profile, focusing on building a presence with several diversity networks and would love to represent Baringa as a key speaker on what we’re doing to support the gender agenda in the near future.

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