Group Human Resources Manager at O'Neill & Brennan
Why we chose Lianne:
Lianne is a long time campaigner for more flexible working opportunities for working mums having experienced how this is still a struggle for many. She’s also a big advocate for mental health in the workplace, creating regular campaigns to keep colleagues talking to each other about their mental wellbeing.
What’s your ‘why’? How do you balance work and life responsibilities to fulfil it?
I always knew that I wanted to have a career in Human Resources. I also knew that I wanted to be a mum. Following in my own mother’s footsteps, I hoped to always have the two things alongside each other. Being a mum is the most important job in the world to me, but I believe I’m a better mum by contributing to the family and pushing myself professionally – showing my children that women don’t have to choose between a family and a career.
I am very fortunate that my job has flexibility which allows me to drop off the children, pick them up and take time off when I need to. It isn’t always perfect, but overall it’s working and allowing me to have the best of both worlds.
Can you explain an initiative you've implemented that has made an impact in your workplace?
Since I have been at O’Neill & Brennan, I have really tried to put a focus on employee wellbeing and specifically mental health. One of the first things I wanted to implement was an EAP scheme as I think it’s a fantastic benefit for people when they just need someone to talk to confidentially.
When I found out that Perkbox had one included, not to mention all the other benefits they provide, it really was an easy decision to make to roll it out to everyone. Since then I have continued to focus on mental health and wellbeing with regular training, updates on the EAP scheme and I also do regular, fun campaigns to remind my colleagues to keep talking to each other about mental health.
As a female leader, what have been the most significant barriers in your career?
Being in the 21st century, I had always hoped that having children would never be a barrier in my career but I was one of the thousands of women who had my flexible working request turned down when I was returning from maternity leave. I ended up having to search for employment whilst taking care of my young baby which made me feel incredibly insecure and vulnerable.
It’s a situation I wouldn’t wish on anyone and is something I always try to help others avoid. I continue to campaign for more flexible working opportunities, not just for mothers but for anyone needing more flexibility in the workplace. It would be great if we could make flexible working the norm so that our daughters and granddaughters don’t have the same barriers that we have had.
What advice would you give to the next generation of female leaders?
Don’t stay somewhere where you don’t feel valued. Life is too short and too important to stay somewhere where your achievements aren’t recognised and you don’t feel like a valuable member of the team. Speak up for what you want, be honest about what you need and make sure that people really see you.