Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.
- Helen Keller

Career Development FAQ

31.08.2013

Frequently Asked Questions from emerging leaders on my portfolio career and how it has shaped me as a leader.

Who has influenced your career most (and why)?

Ian Dodd, he was my line manager/project manager at an early stage in my career. New into the role he worked extremely hard in the first few weeks to learn all he could about the project, the customer and every team member. He took time to meet us individually in the office despite strong pressure to deliver results quickly. He was clear on what outcomes he expected and uncompromising in holding us accountable. Ian established a work-hard, play-hard culture and led by example. He backed us on difficult decisions that were soundly judged and trusted us to report by exception. He drove us hard but he also went above and beyond to support us in achieving what we needed to, both in and out of work. I respected him and worked hard to deliver the project.

Describe a turning point in your career

One that is particularly memorable was the first time I came across a “legacy clause” in my scope of work. I was a management consultant at the time and one of my deliverables was to train my successor and make my services redundant – genius! It is a philosophy I have continued, my clients enjoy the results and I continue to get new challenges, it’s a win-win.

What is your greatest business achievement?

I was engaged, with only three months to go-live, as a turnaround change manager for a people-change program that was bringing in the largest changes to policy for a public sector agency in 45 years, part of a £1.47 billion investment. The deadline was politically sensitive and highly publicised. The policy changes affected 1,500 global stakeholders, 29,000 staff and fundamentally changed how cases were submitted, processed, considered, notified, enforced and reported.  I led the people-change program with responsibility for 11 work streams (policy, international group, process & system design, business change, communications, training, benefits realisation, relocation, contingency, management information and project management office). Another colleague led the IT-change work stream. I worked with my team of managers to reallocate resource to the critical path and helped them to re-engage with the project.   We successfully implemented the changes by the publicised deadline. A major challenge was the “live go-live” i.e. the context meant that a system outage was not possible and so the new IT system and cleansed data had to be loaded during live running and use of the system. The high risk IT change had significant contingency implications for staff.

A notable outcome was the formal hand over of ownership from the transformation team to business-as-usual owners, a first for any transformation program at the agency. 

What was your worst mistake (and what did you learn)?

When engaging company directors to be on the change agent network for my first global change programme I was focused on the outcome and did not pay enough attention to the politics within the organisation. My first teleconference with them soon brought that to light and I spent the next few weeks speaking with the company directors individually, and in pairs, to find a set of core principles everyone could agree. 

​What was the worst piece of advice you've been given?

For a number of reasons I did not get the A-level grades I needed first time around and I was told by a teacher "don't get above yourself, girls from broken homes don't go to university."

What was the best piece of advice you've been given?

Tell people your career ambitions, don't expect the people who can help you get there to be mind-readers.

What is the best thing about your job?

  • Finding out what makes people tick and watching them grow in confidence as they achieve what they set their hearts and minds to.
  • Knowing that people I have not even met will have a better day at work and achieve more because the person who has chosen to work with me wants to be a better leader. 
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Angela did a great job of facilitating the 3-day workshop with the senior engineering stakeholders. After some well-managed creative conflict we arrived at consensus for a simplified and globally applicable development program, which will ensure our sizeable graduate population is well-equipped to fulfil our early career talent needs into the future.
- Glenn Kiser, Strategic Interstaff Direction and Planning at Rolls-Royce

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