At #YesSheCan we got the opportunity to have a chat with Laura Wilson, director at CLM. We chatted to her about starting your career, her motivators and overcoming challenges.
Can you tell us a bit about you and your career:
On leaving school and studying law at college, I worked full time whilst ‘training on the job’ to become an Easement Officer. I then completed my Estate Management degree at The College of Estate Management and was then promoted to Senior Easement Officer.
My career took me to Savills, where I became their Capital Programme Assistant. Recognising a gap in the legal market I carved a role for myself as New Connections Manager, responsible for managing the new connections business within the utility team and working with electricity and gas connection providers to procure the legal rights. I recognised my extensive skills in negotiation and background in feasibility studies, land acquisition and lease administration to start CLM in 2014.
A typical day in your career:
I am either in the office or on the road visiting clients; established and new. My office days are spent catching up on conference calls, emails and with my team in Ketton. Our 2020 strategy was to develop our growing team and so training and 1-2-1 mentoring has been a real focus for me; ensuring knowledge gaps are filled and valuable experience is gained. There is a healthy amount of solution-finding and guiding teams in their operations and delivery.
When I started in Land Rights my days were typically very varied and busy. I have worked across many areas of the utility sector allowing me to build up a solid foundation of understanding and contacts. It was an invaluable experience to glean the knowledge I required to start CLM and focus on the legal element of Land Rights.
What made you choose this career/industry?
It started with studying Law at college. I have a naturally analytical mind and was actually considering a career in forensic pathology. By keeping an open mind and accepting exciting opportunities Land Rights found me!
How did you get to where you are now and did you face any challenges along the way?
With determination! There have been many challenges, from how to incorporate a company, through to how to set up a phone and email system, however, I pride myself on knowing my limits. When a challenge has arisen, I’ve stopped, consulted with someone who knows and moved forward with care. Within our company we have aligned ourselves with some brilliant local suppliers; VOIP specialists, IT experts, solicitors etc. and having them supporting us means we can concentrate on our specialism; completing land right agreements!
What is an important initiative that you feel passionate about in your role?
I am passionate about investing in people to build their careers. I feel incredibly fortunate to have carved a career and build a business in the Land Rights industry. It is not an obvious career choice as so little information is out there about where to start and what to study. CLM now employs a team of 16 people and I am committed to helping them get the best from themselves and what the industry has to offer. We work with some outstanding clients who are committed to best service; in turn we can deliver projects efficiently. By investing in the team, CLM can provide the very best customer service. It is at the heart of what we do and the reason we are here. It makes me so proud to receive positive feedback about the team and their second to none service.
What do you think gave you the drive and determination to succeed?
I have always been driven and independent; I believe it comes from being raised with a great work ethic. From the age of 14, I have always worked; from call centres to bar work, I have always earned my own money and value the part I place in the workplace. I have had some incredible role models over the years who have shown me what success looks like. For me, that is demonstrated in working well under pressure, being passionate about what you do and cultivating a work-life that complements your home life.
What’s great about being a female in your role?
Being able to speak with authority in an industry which is not naturally associated with women. I do feel that I am helping break the gender divide when it comes to stereotypes in Land Rights and I do so without compromising myself.
What is your biggest achievement in life?
My daughter, Evelyn. She has given me a newfound ambition; to be an inspiring role model, teaching her how to achieve dreams, whatever they may be. She has also taught me so much already; largely that there is no better negotiator than a 3-year-old at bedtime!
Outside your work, what are your favourite hobbies and pastimes?
I am a true oxymoron! A country girl at heart, who also adores having fun in the city! Married to a sheep farmer, I am no stranger to rolling my sleeves up in all sorts of weather to help get the job done. My husband, Hamish, and I make a great team and together we have achieved a lot both personally and professionally. When the weekend arrives we can be found anywhere from rugby matches to ‘Going on a Bear Hunt’! A Saturday night at a great restaurant with friends laughs and fine wine is a favourite pastime if it counts! I also love a city break and exploring new places with Hamish and Evelyn and if there’s a spa treatment along the way, even better!
What three tips would you give to young females starting their careers?
Sheryl Sandberg talks about ‘leaning in’ and I wholeheartedly agree. Find an industry or a cause that you are passionate about, where you want to be and where you want to make a difference. Apathy gets you nowhere.
Set yourself your own ‘Vision, Mission and Core Values’ and embody them. Don’t tell people your plans, show them! If you can not afford the investment of a personal career coach; get online; read books by people who YOU admire, listen to inspiring podcast series (and lots of them), keep in your own lane and surround yourself with radiators not drains!
Can you talk about one woman who has impacted your life?
Growing up, my Nan was a massive influence for me. She worked ridiculous hours, had two jobs but was always there to do the school pick up for my sisters and me whenever my mum needed help. She never appeared tired and always gave us her time. She listened and encouraged everything we did. She was a very special lady.
What are your key motivators?
Family, career, team and legacy:
- Everything I do is with my family’s happiness and security in mind.
- My career is hugely important to me and I continue to invest in my development to ensure I am always levelling up.
- I take my role as an employer very seriously; my team and their wellbeing matter greatly to me as they are an integral part of my world.
- Making a difference in the world of Land Rights and knowing we leave behind a legacy via the nation’s infrastructure is extremely rewarding.
What are some strategies that can help women achieve a more prominent role in their organizations?
Organise 1-2-1s with mentors, influencers and prominent figures in your organisation, listen to them and seek their advice; ask questions such as ‘where can I make the biggest difference or impact in the business?’.
Make yourself indispensable – there is only one you after all!
Connect with people on LinkedIn and email them after meeting them face to face; people buy/work from people they like.
Ensure you are always learning - attend courses and conferences to widen your knowledge and develop your skill set and offering.
What advice do you have for women aiming for leadership positions?
Aim high and with integrity. Invest in yourself to ensure you do not undersell yourself. Champion your successes and reflect on them to see how far you have come. I love a milestone moment where I can look back and think it was only 6 years ago and it was just me and my cat at my dining room table. Integrity is essential; I am surrounded by great people; clients, team, family and friends because of integrity and respect. They go hand in hand. If people associate you with integrity, they know they can trust your word, be it good news or bad. You cannot put a price on reliability and trustworthiness.
What’s one key leadership lesson you’ve learned along the way?
Leadership can be a lonely journey and it is essential to surround yourself not only with talented and knowledgeable people but honest people as well. I would like to think I take on board the thoughts and ideas of others, I am not afraid to be challenged and do not judge others for speaking up. I value honest and direct dialogue and have learnt to engage in difficult subjects without feeling emotionally invested. I believe in fairness and so constantly challenge myself to ensure I am living by my values at work as well as home.
“Dear 16-year-old self, keep doing what you are doing because the future looks amazing!”
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