Q&A with Loraine Sawyer
1. What motivates you?
I’m motivated by learning. I have a thirst to learn and I love learning new things every day. I also like enabling others to learn. I always see learning as a two-way process where we learn off each other, it’s not just one way.
2. How do you handle pressure?
I rely on my colleagues and ask for their help depending on what the pressure is. I also talk things through with my family. Sometimes it’s important to just retreat, to internalise what the pressure might be, and find a quiet space to find a way through.
3. What will change most about the world of work in the next few years?
I think technology is going to be a huge factor. What we at Lane4 will be able to do is enable people to be in control of the technology and not the other way around. I think there’s a danger that all this technology could take over rather than us controlling it.
4. What’s your defining career moment so far?
When I worked for Fulcrum Connections, which was a subsidiary of Transco, I was asked to head up Fulcrum Connections as the Training Manager. This was quite a defining career moment and it enabled me to add more skills. It was a huge learning curve, and I really enjoyed that.
5. What book, film or tv show has really changed the way you thought about something?
The book that changed me was ‘First, Break all the Rules’ by Marcus Buckingham. It really made a lot of sense to me. The premise of the book explains how we make people jump through hoops to get more money, and the only way to get more money is to apply for the next level up. We don’t always have the skills or abilities to ‘level up’. All we really want is either more money or to be rewarded for what we’re doing well in our current role. In the book it says that we should reward people for what they do for the role they’re in rather than forcing them to apply for promotions to get more money. That really resonated with me.
6. What’s your favourite sport to business lesson or story?
I really love Boris Becker. I know he’s bankrupt at the moment, but he went from a teenager winning Wimbledon and going through all of that, to the pressure of competing and keeping it up. He did have his own business and his own sports clothing line. I don’t know what has gone wrong in his latter years, but to go from a teenager dealing with all that pressure is impressive. So, it actually is a good story and also of how it went wrong.
7. What makes you proud?
I’m very proud that I’ve been married for 42 years to the same man, we were both very young when we got married. I’m also proud that I’m Chartered CIPD because I had to do that backwards if you like. I left school early but did that afterwards so I’m very proud of that.
8. What makes you angry?
Prejudice. Any prejudice. Not just race, religion, but disabilities and assumptions. People make assumptions about things that could be totally wrong, so that makes me angry.
9. Which leader do you most admire most and why?
I think there’s several, but it doesn’t matter who they are, it’s more the qualities and characteristics that they have. It’s the leadership style that they have and how they care for their people. It’s also about what they change. A huge impact on me and millions of people was Freddie Laker when he opened the door to package holidays for the ordinary people. By reducing the price, it wasn’t such a ‘luxury’; package holidays are a normal thing now and we don’t see them as so much of a ‘luxury’ anymore. The fight he had to do that was really hard for him, even though British Airways did eventually destroy him.
10. What are your best and worst characteristics?
I think my best characteristics are that I am open, I love communicating with all people and learning. The whole world is open to you if you listen, so I think I’m a really good listener. In the word conversation, ‘con’ in Spanish is ‘with’. What we do a lot of the time is we all have ‘versations’. Sometimes we’re so concerned with saying what we want to say and internalising what we think the other person’s going to reply that we don’t actually listen. So, I think it’s very important to listen. I think my worst characteristics is that I’m a bit OCD, perhaps I try to control things a bit too much.
11. What would you like to learn and why?
I’ve always wanted to learn sign language. Recently we’ve had feedback in our team meetings that not everybody knows sign language but what they do know is finger spelling. I’d really like to learn finger spelling because it’s been highlighted that we’re not as diverse or inclusive as we think we are. We don’t have any equipment or any help for deaf people in our workshops so I’d really like to do that so I can be more inclusive.
12. If you could choose anybody, who would you be for a day?
There are so many people I’d like to be for the day, but I think I would be my son. He has a lot of issues and I’d like to see it from his side, I’d like to see what his perception of me is. It might be really different from how I think I am with him.
13. Who would you like to invite for a dinner party, living or dead?
I would invite my grandad because he would have been 105 this year. He was born in 1913 and he was definitely a man before his time. He didn’t hit his children, he wasn’t prejudice, he would welcome anybody. So I would definitely have him.
14. What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
Sometimes you have to move sideways to learn more things before you can move up. Some people have a straight line up to their positions but other people, they’re kind of bobbing and weaving sideways. They can be going off at a tangent, learning new things to bring back and to make you stronger. This puts you in a stronger position to then go up.
15. What would your motto be (if you haven’t already got one)?
I’ve got loads! The first would be ‘don’t ask a question if you don’t want the answer’. I’ll always give you an honest answer but that may not be what you actually want to hear. But also, ‘never give up’. Go under, over, sideways to achieve whatever it is you want to achieve.
16. What personal value would you never compromise?
Fairness. I may not always succeed but I always try to be fair. That’s important to me, fairness is what I think makes the world go around. If people feel they’re being treated unfairly it can cause all sorts of problems, so fairness to me is really important. Not only that I receive it but that I give it.