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Returning to work: interview tips, authentic support and what inclusion really looks like

Season 3, Ep. 1

Season 3 of The Lens podcast is here and we're returning to work. Ann Pickering, Chief HR Officer and Chief of Staff at communications giant O2 and Ria Johal, a diversity and inclusion consultant with a wealth of wisdom to share, catch up with our host Oli Barrett MBE for our first episode of the season. Let's get to the conversation...


In this episode our guests discuss breaks from work and returning to work, how to navigate this, what it might look like for many people, especially women and how companies can lead by example. Ria and Oli also discuss graduate schemes and the needs of grads entering the workplace for the first time. Ann offers her thoughts on how Human Resources should and can function to support staff at every level, and provides some useful interview tips.


Oli and our guests also discuss authenticity and how to offer genuine support and inclusive cultures in the workplace. They also consider how this intersects with productivity, employee happiness, personal goals and the need to prove an environment that helps staff achieve their best work.


Does your workforce reflect customer base? What does the future of work look like? Will we all feel supported if and when we return to work? Find out in Season 3 Episode 1 of The Lens Podcast.




Our Guests


Ann Pickering joined O2 (Telefónica UK) in 2004 and was appointed to the UK board as HR director in 2008 Prior to this Pickering worked for Marks and Spencer, Fidelity and Xansa (now Steria) and is a chartered fellow of the Institute of Personnel Development. Since Pickering joined O2 the company has achieved a top 20 place three times in The Sunday Times Top 100 Employers in the UK and eight in the UK Best Places to Work. Over the past two years O2 has been included in the top 25 companies in the Social Mobility Employer Index, which identifies the UK businesses taking the most action to improve social mobility in the workplace. 


Pickering is calling upon business, government and educators to work together to ensure there are sufficient digitally-skilled workers to drive the UK economy. She is passionate about social inclusion and promoting career opportunities for all young people in the digital sector. Outside Telefónica Pickering is a trustee of Breast Cancer Now, a cancer charity formed specifically to focus on accelerating finding a cure for breast cancer. She is also a trustee of Step up to Serve, a charity aimed at promoting social action among 10- to 20-year-olds. Pickering is visiting professor of HRM at Sheffield University Management School where she also chairs the advisory board. She is married with two sons, aged 28 and 26 years. 


Ria Johal is a University of Sheffield Graduate who has worked at both Deutsche Bank and J.P.Morgan but is now a Diversity and Inclusion consultant and also does key note speaking. She works closely with a women’s charity that focuses on retraining and reskilling women past pregnancy or if they have to take time out. She has also worked with a charity that aims to provide Women and girls with tech opportunities and ensures that infrastructure will support continuous tech learning throughout their careers. She is also particularly interested in the speed of technological advances and how continuous learning will take place on the job.  


Time Stamps


00:15 Oli introduces his guests for this episode. 01:20 Oli, Ria and Ann discuss an employer in common, an early employer they happen to share with many of our guests on the podcast. 02:30 Oli asks Ann, what does being Chief of Staff entail? 03:30 An introduction to O2 and Ann’s thoughts on working for a consumer-focused organisation. Ann stresses the importance of a workforce reflecting a company’s customer base. 04:40 Ann describes life as a 17-year old in Liverpool and the formative jobs that instilled her with a passion with working for people. 06:00 Oli asks Ann about her turning points and lightbulb moments. 07:08 Ann tells Oli what she’s most proud of including O2’s parenting leave policy: 14 weeks maternity and paternity leave for all parents in all circumstances and situations, offering existing opportunities to step up, cover a role and develop. 09:30 Oli asks Ann about her vision for the future. ‘The world of work is changing and HR departments are going to have to pivot.’ says Ann.


10:50 Ria delivers her thoughts on changes to working environments, employee investment and how companies might better support employees. 12:01 Oli and Ria discuss the ethics of hiring, retention and the challenges that millennials and young people face in the work. 13:14 Ria returns to Ann’s point on workforces being reflective of customers and says diversity must be more than aesthetic and looking at employees as whole people is essential. 15:30 Ria turns to her university years at Sheffield and describes her journey from an engineering to work at JP Morgan and Deutsche Bank and then to taking time out for her health. She tells Oli and Ann about how she found support from her university and employers. 18:15 Oli asks Ria what her employers could have done better.


The Lens Reading List


Ann’s addition to our ever-growing bookshelf is The Go Between by LP Hartley - a story of relationships, family and betrayal. She tells us about how she read the book at 18 and fell for the wonderful escapism it offered. Ria’s choice is Money: A Users Guide by Laura Watley. She, Oli and Ann discuss how money can be an elitist thing. If you’re not taught about stocks and shares, it's hard to gain access to knowledge about the world of finance, business and investing - something our host Oli is passionate about teaching in schools.


The Lens Podcast


Powered by Fujitsu, supported by McCann and in partnership with One Young World, The Lens represents the breadth, diversity and priorities of the responsible business agenda. From gender equality to zero hours contracts, learning on the factory floor to activist businesses, The Lens covers a range of topics from a host of varying perspectives. 


Each episode brings together a business and future leader to foster disruptive conversations and fresh connections. Innovators and CEOs join Oli Barrett in the studio for a unique conversation covering their journeys, lessons learned, advice, insight and of course, the inspirational person they’d most like to meet for coffee. 


Business in the Community is The Prince's Responsible Business Network. We convene a unique network of purposeful leaders to share insight, expertise and create innovative programmes that deliver impact. Together our ambition is to make the UK the world leader at responsible business. 


Don’t forget to follow The Lens on Instagram and to rate, review and subscribe on iTunes or wherever you get your podcasts. instagram.com/thelenspodcast

More Episodes

7/14/2020

Diversity – the how, not just the why

Season 3, Ep. 7
This month our host Oli Barrett MBE is joined by Openreach Northern Ireland Director, Mairead Meyer and Sheree Atcheson, former Head of Diversity & Inclusion at Monzo Bank.In this episode our host Oli Barrett MBE gets an understanding of how transparency and connectivity play a key role in diversity and inclusion.And of course, our host asks both Mairead and Sheree who they’d most like to meet for coff­ee and which books they’ll be adding to the famous Lens Reading List.Our GuestsMairead is Director of Openreach in Northern Ireland. With over 12 years of experience working in the leading communications company, Mairead is responsible for over 800 members of staff including large engineering teams and she also engages with major customers and stakeholders. Proud to invest in its people, Openreach has an impressive training programme where its key aim is to keep staff motivated and happy. It also has a popular apprenticeship programme, helping to engineer the future workforce with quality training and real career prospects. Prior to this position, Mairead has held senior management roles across Planning, Operations and Field engineering within BT and has taken a leading role in the completion of large scale fibre broadband delivery projects throughout Northern Ireland.Sheree is Global Ambassador at Women Who Code and former Head of Diversity and Inclusion at Monzo Bank. Listed as one of the UK's most influential women in technology, she is an international multi-award winning Diversity and Inclusion leader who is a global change maker in pushing for equality in industry. Monzo’s mission is to make money work for everyone by treating people fairly and being totally transparent. The challenger bank promotes an inclusive and empowering working environment to support every team member. Sheree has developed a wide range of training and resources at Monzo. Prior to this, she has held various roles on inclusion; including developing and implementing the Deloitte Inclusion Strategy.The Lens Reading ListMairead chose Trevor Noah's Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood. A compelling, inspiring, (often comic) coming-of-age story of Trevor Noah, set during the twilight of apartheid and the tumultuous days of freedom that followed.Sheree chose Better Allies by Karen Caitlin, a book about everyday actions that can help create inclusive, engaging workplaces; that helps you to learn to spot situations where you can create a more inclusive culture, along with straightforward steps to take.The Lens PodcastPowered by Fujitsu, supported by McCann and in partnership with One Young World, The Lens represents the breadth, diversity and priorities of the responsible business agenda. From gender equality to zero hours contracts, learning on the factory floor to activist businesses, The Lens covers a range of topics from a host of varying perspectives.Each episode brings together a business and future leader to foster disruptive conversations and fresh connections. Innovators and CEOs join Oli Barrett in the studio for a unique conversation covering their journeys, lessons learned, advice, insight and of course, the inspirational person they’d most like to meet for coffee.Business in the Community is The Prince's Responsible Business Network. We convene a unique network of purposeful leaders to share insight, expertise and create innovative programmes that deliver impact. Together our ambition is to make the UK the world leader at responsible business.Don’t forget to follow The Lens on Instagram and to rate, review and subscribe on iTunes or wherever you get your podcasts. instagram.com/thelenspodcast