One Size Doesn’t Fit All – IWD2020
Posted by Lewis Cornwall on 16/03/2020
This year for International Women’s Day we conducted a series of interviews with some of the female leaders within LHi Group. Next up, we have Imogen Simpkin; a manager within our Life Sciences brand, SciPro in our LA office. Imogen started out at LHi four years ago as a graduate for our technology brand; Lawrence Harvey in London and now heads up a team in LA.
1. How has the support been from LHi from relocating to the US from London to becoming a leader?
"Everyone in the company really supported me with the move and the people I knew the most gave me loads of advice, especially the people that had relocated before I did. Everybody says the LA office has a family vibe and I couldn’t agree more, it’s a home away from home. I feel like I’ve become a big sister/mom at the tender age of 26 to the newer recruits within the office.
I really owe where I am today to the other leaders that developed me as a consultant, so when I did take that step into leadership it didn’t feel like I was stepping into the unknown as they had prepared me for it. I think it also helps that I’ve been involved in the leadership conferences, had external training and been involved in the mentorship program as a mentee, not just from people in the US but globally.
I have to give a special shoutout to our Head of People Anne-Marie Butts, I don’t think I would be where I am right now in my career without her support and definitely not in the mental health space I am in without her advice throughout the past couple of years."
2. Who is one of your role models and why?
"There’s so many that come to mind… Michelle Obama, Beyoncé and Kathrine Johnson. But the people that really inspire me are the people I personally know, and I know this is going to sound cliché, but my biggest role models are my Mum, my Dad and my Nanna.
My Nanna moved over to the UK from Jamaica many years ago and had nothing apart from the clothes on her back. Yet she is the most independent, confident and most loving woman I have ever met, and she inspires me so much.
My Mum is so hard working, caring and has always encouraged me to believe that I could do anything I ever wanted. She’d sit with me and plan how I was going to achieve my dreams and how she could help to get me there.
My Dad would do anything and everything for me and would always go beyond gender stereotypes as well, he would watch me at ballet recitals or take me to any sport practice I wanted. Even now if I ever have a question and need a logical answer, he is my go-to person."
3. What could LHi leadership do over the next 3 years and beyond to address the gender imbalance at Director level?
"Promote me? (Kidding). I think to continue developing the female leaders we already have in the business. When I was at the US Leadership conference recently it was so nice to see so many females in the room, I don’t think this is the case at a lot of other organisations, not just recruitment ones. I would say that we are a more forward thinking company than a lot of other organisations, for example I think our gender split here in LA is 50/50 which is almost unheard of within recruitment. My biggest thing that I would make sure LHi continue to do is to remember that everyone is different, so when they are developing us it’s great that most of the training is tailored towards us individually, as one size doesn’t fit all, be it for females or males. It’s great that we let everyone play to their strengths and develop them from there. There is a strong team of leaders within the company at this level at the moment and we all received an email last week and it was so comforting to see so many women in the recipients and I just don’t think this would have been the case back when I started. That’s not to say that they weren’t looking to hire women back then, I just think it was a lot harder to find the women that wanted to join the business and step up.
I think all in all it’s not something we need to change as I completely feel valued by the company no matter my gender or race and I feel like I have the same opportunities as anyone else in the business. If we continue to strive to be equal and make sure that the people that are due recognition receive it, I think that the gender imbalance will sort itself out soon enough. This makes it nice when I am promoted as I know that I deserved it and am not just being given recognition to tick a box, which I think some organisations do."
4. What message would you like to send to the ‘younger you’, starting out on their LHi journey?
"I would say to a younger me (baby Imogen) that you can achieve anything and everything you want with hard work, tenacity and confidence in this organisation. I feel like if you show the will here to the powers that be, they will do everything they can to get you to the next level. I’ve been lucky that I’ve had a few promotions since I’ve joined, then I was given the opportunity to come out to the US, then lead a team and to make an impact on a lot of other people coming through the ranks.
I often tell people when I am interviewing them that when I came in at graduate level in London four years ago, never did I think that I would have been promoted so many times and leading a team of people based out here on the West Coast. I think this just shows if you have a dream, a plan, work hard and show loyalty to the business, they will do everything to keep you. I remember having a conversation with Jim Denning one time and he told me that there will always be a place for me within LHi as I’m part of the family now."
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