Consultant Spotlight: Shalina Popat
1. What surprised you the most about Lane4?
What surprised me the most about Lane4 was definitely the people. From the very start, on my assessment day, whilst I was waiting at reception people were stopping to chat with me and seemed so smiley and caring. I got such a great feeling from that, and when I joined I realised that was just how people are at Lane4 thanks to the culture. My colleagues were genuinely interested and invested in me from the start, and took time out of their days to have coffee with me and get to know me. The people definitely make Lane4 what it is.
2. What is it about your job that makes you get out of bed in the morning?
Thankfully I really enjoy my job, so there isn’t one thing but lots of things! The idea of making a real difference to people’s lives is such a rewarding feeling, whether it be a big difference or a small change.
Early in my consulting career I was lucky enough to be able to present a piece of work to a client, and seeing their reaction to the work I had done was really humbling. Even when they challenge what you’ve done, I love the feeling of producing work which can impact people’s lives for the better.
Again, the benefit of working at Lane4 is that a lot of my colleagues feel like family, which means I never get that Sunday evening dread of coming into work which helps!
3. What one thing do you wish you had known at the start of your career?
I wish I had known that it’s okay to be you. It’s easy to go into a big organisation and feel you have to fit into their culture and their way of doing things but that’s not how you’re going to gain respect and cultivate a personal brand for yourself.
If you manage to get their culture to fit to you, you’re going to build up a perception of yourself that you can be proud of and which people will respect, meaning you’ll have more of a lasting impact.
4. If you could put one message up on a billboard for millions of people to see, what would it be?
Live, laugh, learn.
Live – as if every day was your last.
Laugh – because what’s the fun in life without a bit of laughter!
Learn – never ever stop yourself from learning.
5. What’s the biggest challenge you have overcome in your career?
The biggest challenge I have experienced so far has been getting your voice heard when you’re in a junior position. I am still finding new ways of overcoming this challenge, but I have learnt lots of techniques about how to do that!
The main thing I have learnt is to build bridges, not walls. If I don’t see eye to eye with someone, I take the time to try and understand why that might be and then develop a relationship with them with that insight in mind. If you build bridges, you can widen your perspective by taking the time to listen to people who think differently to you. It produces a more collaborative rather than ‘political’ experience.
6. What has been the highlight of your consulting career at Lane4 so far, and why?
When I first started I got to present an evaluation report and it was amazing going to the client, owning that piece of work, discussing it face to face and seeing the client engaging in the whole process. The client was impressed with what I had produced but also challenged my way of thinking, which was an incredible source of development for me.
7. Can you tell me about a specific time when someone made a real difference to your working life?
When I first started at Lane4, I moved far away from my home, which meant it was easy to get overwhelmed from starting a new job as well as a new living environment. One of my colleagues asked me to if I was okay every day, and made it clear they were there for me. It showed me how genuinely supported I was and made me feel safe and comfortable to share any struggles I may have.
8. What is the one skill you think employees need to thrive in the future of work?
If I had to pinpoint one skill it would be adaptability. There are so many changes happening in the economic and political landscape that organisations need to make sure they step up to compete.
If employees are adaptable and can withstand these changes, they’ll be able to step up to change.
9. What is the one skill you think team leaders need to instil in their employees for success?
I think empowerment is a major skill for newer generations coming into the workplace. They value being trusted and are often motivated by that trust. If team leaders empower them, younger employees will be more passionate, determined and loyal to companies. This will ultimately benefit the company as their younger workers will be developing more quickly, as people work harder when they feel trusted.
10. What one habit has had the biggest impact on your daily life?
Surrounding myself with positive and loyal people. It’s amazing how being surrounded by people who display those qualities has a massive effect on your mentality: you’re likely to feel better and more confident. It helps encourage you to set your mind on doing things because those around you believe in you. The world becomes your oyster.