Vivian Lagan was the first person to join our Elevate programme. Vivian reflects on why this opportunity was particularly valuable to her as a Black woman and critical to her success in the firm.

I am a director in business risk services, in the financial services group. My role is to deeply understand the needs of our clients by building relationships across their teams and supporting them in the delivery of their internal audit and risk requirements. 

An exciting part of my role is supporting partner initiatives to build our brand by creating regular insights and industry engagements, keeping the firm at the cutting edge of knowledge.

As part of our commitment to value all genders equally, reduce the gender pay gap, and improve the representation of women, non-binary and gender non-conforming people at senior levels, the firm has two development programmes for senior people in these groups looking to move up: Elevate and Breakthrough.

The programmes are designed to support and coach them to prepare for progression to the next level in their career. The firm focuses on senior levels because our gender diversity is 50/50 up to manager level, but we still only have 19% of partners who identify as women, non-binary, or gender non-conforming.

Statistics tell us that Black females' chances of progression in society are lower due in part to existing unconscious bias and historical barriers to progression. We celebrate Black History Month to provide an opportunity to learn more about Black history, culture, and heritage, helping all of us to further bridge this knowledge gap in our firm.

I was privileged enough to participate in the pilot for the Elevate programme. I was an associate director at the time, working successfully within the firm for six years. I was striving for a career breakthrough.

I wanted to join Elevate as I’m always open to learning and opportunities to stretch myself. This programme was designed specifically for my needs as a woman seeking to advance my career in the firm. It was an exciting opportunity to do just that. 

Critical to my success and progression here at the firm has been my focus on gaining insight into the challenges and needs of our clients and then formulating client propositions to help them solve these. Maintaining a strong internal network enables me to leverage a wide range of expertise and skills from across the firm.

Elevate was a great opportunity to build on my existing network and engage with new colleagues I wouldn’t have usually come by in my day-to-day role. It was also a great forum in which to learn from others and understand how different people’s experiences and perspectives can be applied successfully in ways I had not considered. 

The programme creates a safe space for open dialogue and to talk freely and honestly about our individual career journeys. Sarah Talbott, a partner within our financial services group, sponsored the programme when I joined and provided inspirational insight into her own career journey, which helped me feel open to discussing my own.

Elevate provides excellent guidance on coaching, mentoring and sponsorship, all of which are areas I greatly benefitted from. And I've used this guidance and put these support mechanisms in place to help me achieve my goals. Equally, I now have a community that I regularly give my time to, sharing what I have learned to support them in any way that I can.

Through Elevate, I’ve progressed my own career and was promoted from associate director to director. While Elevate is not designed as a director promotion programme, it does help individuals evaluate how they operate and challenges them to seek out alternative views, which in my opinion can only help to further our work in inclusivity.

I've gained a community of colleagues and friends and learned new techniques and approaches to manage my career.

Even with a demanding role, I feel blessed that I can be there for my family in those moments that count. Alongside my busy work life, I have a young family to look after. I feel that I can be there for my loved ones thanks to many of the family-friendly initiatives that the firm provides, and I hope I can continue to achieve that.

My motto for success is… Life is about growth and change. Be open every day to all opportunities to learn, no matter where they come from or how random they are and continue finding ways to challenge yourself.

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