An Interview with Lisa Rickman, Audley Group HR Director

In February 2020 it was announced that, now Group HR Director, Lisa Rickman had been invited to join the Board.

International Women's Day 2020 quite rightly articulates that equality is not only a women's issue, it is a business issue. 

We ask Lisa how she feels to be the first woman to join the Board, her experiences and the importance of equality in business.

As well as her fundamental role in the leadership team at Audley Group, Lisa is a mum and enjoys a busy family life at home in West Sussex.

Lisa, can you describe your career journey to date?

I started my career in the retail sector, where I held various positions in the south London region. After 12 years I moved into the pharmaceutical sector, based between the UK and Switzerland, which gave me new insight into borderless cultures and brand built values. I later returned to the retail sector, where I worked with client groups in the UK and international markets.

For twenty years now I have been a senior HR Operations leader supporting key functions including global logistics, operations, values, community trade, supply chain, marketing, finance, sales, research and development, and care.

My interest in organisational brands that are led by values, cultural change and strong growth plans led me to the care sector. Time in this challenging sector enabled me to further recognise that

clear values, strong cultures and agile working are needed for both individuals and organisations to be successful.

Having now worked in the care sector for more than ten years, this is where my heart is and I have found this to be the most rewarding. I have taken risks in my career, exploring projects, differing roles, and specialist areas. Exposure to such diverse experiences and people, has definitely helped me to create the right HR drivers.

What attracted you to join Audley?

Care is a tough sector globally, heavily influenced by the labour market and ageing population, and it comes with huge public responsibility. Experiencing how the tenacity and engagement to drive improvement makes a difference to peoples lives is exceptionally rewarding.

My positive experience of working in the care sector therefore made it almost impossible to shift sectors. Audley is a superb brand that is attractive to both our owners and future team members. Building an employee brand that is recognised and understood externally and internally really appealed to me, as did Audley’s plans for growth.

I am passionate about our exceptional people and the complex challenges across diverse roles.

To support and contribute to the growth of the business and to be an integral part of the Audley culture is a privilege.

How important is culture in an organisation?

The impact of culture has always been my core interest. I have worked within many different cultures, some created by the nature of the sector and others by the local cultures relevant to the geographical location. Culture and behaviour do impact people and business performance. My experience tells me that it should be at the top of the list, with focus on establishing strong values and ethical behaviour that is equalised in gender.

Culture and equality are key for success at both an individual and overall organisation level.

What aspirations do you have for your role and for Audley overall?

First and foremost, ensuring that the HR proposition is strong and engaging. It’s about listening to our team members and making sure that Audley is innovating and offering great opportunities for new people whilst retaining our talent.

We must be flexible and agile to accommodate diversity and flexibility.

There is still more to be done to recognise people for their contribution and talent, and it all comes together in the high ‘proud to work at Audley’ score which is currently have at 97%. My personal goal is to position Audley as the number one employer of choice in our industry and be recognised for our strong commitment to developing our team members with flexible learning opportunities and a culture that genuinely creates a great place to work.

Controversial question, but do you have a favourite village?

I don’t have a favourite, they are all stunning and each has its own personality. I am looking forward to the city-based villages developing.

As a mum, how have you managed raising children and your career?

I have been very fortunate and have worked for very flexible organisations that have provided respect and support, particularly when my children were very young. It’s an anxious time when you have a young family. The support, respect and flexibility I have experienced has been influential over my views on how policies should read and be mobilised. The guidance and message to attract parents of young families for new hires and team members within is key to establishing a culture of trust and high engagement.

Have you got any advice for other young/new mums?

My advice to any parents with a family is to be confident and talk to your organisation. Working together is key to making the relationship work for both sides.

Audley employs more women than men across the company (70% women). Do you see any differences in management style for men and women in some roles?

I see different leadership styles but not particularly related to the gender difference.

In Audley, I see a lot of passion for the brand and its purpose.

Have you seen any trends in businesses addressing equality in employment?

I’ve experienced many legislation reviews, and therefore organisation policy and behaviour change, many times in my career. I have seen many successful and improved performances as a result of organisations exercising agile working methodologies, for example job shares, flexible working and shared parental leave. By embracing these improved practices we are more likely to increase engagement and personal satisfaction. It is every organisations responsibility to promote a good ‘work/life’ balance, and it can be all too easy to un-intentionally create a culture where the balance is not healthy.

At Audley, we promote healthy policies that provide choices for women and men alike to achieve their desired balance of professional and personal life.

The gender pay gap is a hot topic within employment. In light of an emerging trend of more men wanting to take longer paternity leave to have a more hands on role in the home with their families, what impact could this have in the future?

The gender pay gap is a great tool to understand what the status is and to ensure that the importance of reward is on-going. There is a possibility that more fathers taking parental leave or requesting part time and flexible working, will impact the balance. I am an advocate for driving the gender balance and this should continue to be high on the list of priorities as this will impact attraction and engagement, irrespective of the role requirements.

When you’re not at work, what do you enjoy doing in your free time?

I have a very sporty family and spend a lot of my time at competitive events.

Do you have any secret talents?

Nope, although I have mastered the juggle to enjoy both my family and career. Being assertive, confident and strong minded is the starting point, all of which I believe comes quite naturally to women.

What are you reading at the moment?

I am reading about the Danish culture HYGGE – a fascinating culture that is established in the Danish market, in and out of the business world. A common understanding of how people embrace life choices, lifestyle and pace themselves to ensure a work/life balance. Achieving a balance of wellness and contentment is music to my ears and I think that more cultures could learn a lot from this established mindset in and out of work.

If you could invite anyone to dinner who would it be?

Piers Morgan – I think Piers would be hugely entertaining. His strong views and opinions intrigue me and I would love to debate a challenging topic with him with opposing views. Also Helen Mirren – A dedicated professional actress who has committed her professional working lifetime to growing and delivery diverse roles with passion and commitment. Lazlo Bock, Google’s HR Director is probably the most respected HR Director of current times. He grew a people strategy in an organisation that was developing quicker than the talent could be hired. Diverse, brave, innovative and he remembered to take people within Google with him as he built a people strategy that contributed to a fast growing, globally recognised successful global brand. Google has been named the best company to work for over thirty times around the world and received over 100 awards as a top employer.

Thank you Lisa. Finally, what advice would you give to aspiring young women in business?

My advice would be to persevere and to never ‘stop being you’.

Women not only have a multitude of skills and experience to offer, but also extended natural skills that include empathy, resilience, multi-tasking, courage and tenacity. All of these traits are key to an effective culture

delivering leadership, friendship, trust, integrity and kindness. Strong culture impacts higher performance and so having a natural ability to self-manage and support others will lead to personal and organisational success and satisfaction.

Thank you, Lisa, and many congratulations again on your promotion to the Board of Directors.

Did you know...

70.6% of the people employed by Audley Group are female. This covers a broad range of roles, across care (98% female), sales (62% female), head office (61% female) and village operations (48%).

Find out more about working for Audley.