Margot Slattery CEO of Sodexo in Ireland says Letting Go of your expectations of yourself and opening yourself up to the unexpected is one of her three pieces of career advice to both women and men. “When you let go of your expectations of what you think you are going to be and how it is going to be, then pretty fantastic things can happen”.
Fantastic things have happened to Margot and she has been the driver of fantastic things at Sodexo -a facilities management company- and in other areas of life like on the board of GLEN and in this podcast she shares her insights and career advice.
Margot believes a mix of genders is an advantage in meetings where she believe women, because they are often more pushed for time, will focus on the key elements quicker. “Women will ask questions that are not always the obvious ones at a meeting” she says and that women bring “a different approach and quite complimentary often.”
Balance is important in all aspects of business and so too is avoiding ‘group think’.
“As leaders we have to challenge” she says. “It’s important that we don’t just accept what we are given on paper, don’t just look at the easy answers, we have to ask some hard questions of ourselves”. She also likes having agitators in the team to push some buttons and ask difficult questions but she says there is an art in keeping the balance when chairing a meeting and that it is important not to loose those who are not the agitators.
When they go into a room to present to a company they bring a range of expertise and people and that is important. She firmly believes that companies have to reflect the diversity of their customer base and sees how the next generations of employees don’t accept the old ways of doing business. To retain the best employees she believes companies are going to have to embrace diversity and that companies who try to get the best out of everyone will be the ones that survive and thrive.
Organisations have a huge capacity for change but they can get it so wrong sometimes she says. “It takes time to communicate and involve people” she believes and that listening to employees is important. “It’s about making sure that you listen, that you are listened to and that that balance is there.”
Margot Slattery is on the board of GLEN and is a mentor for seven women on ‘Going For Growth’ a programme for women entrepreneurs. Margot is also involved with the Professional Women’s Network and the 30% Club.