Tell us a bit about yourself, background and your current role
I work as the Chief Operating Officer at Fletchers Solicitors, which is a top 100 law firm specialising in Personal Injury and Clinical Negligence. I joined Fletchers full-time in 2017 having previously advised the business as a non-executive director.
Before joining Fletchers, I worked for a large food retailer in Australia, as the General Manager of Stores Transformation. Prior to this I was the Head of Food Logistics & Supply Chain at Marks & Spencer. I started my career with Accenture, where I spent seven years advising clients on all matters relating to end-to-end supply chains, principally within the areas of Consumer Goods and Retail.
I received a First Class Masters degree in Engineering from Oxford University in 1997 and an MBA from INSEAD in 2003. I also completed the strategic leadership executive programme at Oxford University in 2013, which is where I first met Ed Fletcher, CEO of Fletchers Solicitors! In October 2018, I was honoured to be the first person to receive the Law Society’s Excellence in Practice Management Award.
Outside of work, I am a busy wife and mum of two children and two cats! Spare time, as you might imagine, is at a premium. Amongst other things we enjoy entertaining family and friends, travelling and exploring new places, and the odd house renovation or two!
Did you ever sit down and plan your career?
To some extent I did. In my early 20s I defined a set of ten tough objectives that I wanted to achieve by the age of 30. Some of these were personal and some were professional. I completed eight of these – which was pretty good – and then defined a further set of objectives to achieve before 35.
I believe that luck plays a role in success, however if you wish to be successful year in year out, then it’s unlikely to happen without design and thought behind it.
Have you faced any challenges along the way?
Many! Every successful business person will have faced numerous challenges, and working women, especially those who go on to have children, face an extra level of challenge. I have seen things and experienced things that belong in a different era. How you deal with these events and learn from them is crucial, and you must always remember that you are the architect of your life.
What has been your biggest achievement to date?
If I had to choose just one, it would be my undergraduate degree. I came from a single parent family with limited resources, but full of hope for a brighter future. To someone like me going to Oxford was like climbing Mount Everest, an enormous test of character and endurance. Conquering Oxford and coming fourth in my final year, gave me an unwavering confidence that anything can be achieved if you put your mind to it.
What one thing do you believe has been a major factor in you achieving success?
I am constantly trying to learn and improve. I don’t believe that I was more gifted than the average child, I do believe that I worked much harder than the average to develop and better myself. The moment I stop having the desire and drive to learn, should this ever happen, will be the right time to hang up the boots and put on the slippers!
How do you feel about mentoring? Have you mentored anyone or are you someone’s mentee?
I believe passionately in mentoring. There are some who believe that because their journey was arduous that others should be too. I couldn’t disagree more with this! I am so grateful to those who helped me on journey, and mentoring is my way of easing the path for others behind me so they can realise their full potential. At Fletchers I have introduced two mentoring programmes, and I currently mentor nine individuals, at different levels within the organisation.
If you could change one thing to accelerate the pace of change for Gender Parity, what would it be?
That’s a big question. If you wish to achieve parity, then normally the first step is to walk in the other person’s shoes. If it were possible, I would have men go through one pregnancy and child birth, and experience one year of “monthly cycles”. Accepting this isn’t possible, I would change things so that there was true gender parity at home. We talk about parity in the context of the workplace, however without parity at home, working women face two points of disadvantage and not just one.
If you could give one piece of advice to your younger self what would it be?
To recognise the world for what it is, rather than what you think it should be.
What is your next challenge and what are you hoping to achieve in the future?
The next challenge for me is to help propel Fletchers into the future and to help the business prepare for the customer and digital revolution. I see myself playing an essential role in that journey.
From a people point of view, I want to make a material difference to those who I lead and mentor, and I look forward to the day when one of my “students” becomes the “master”.
On a personal note, there is no greater people responsibility than my own children. In the future I hope that I am able to say that I have enabled them to become their best selves.