Latest WERKIN with podcast episode: Elizabeth Nyamayaro on leading as an impatient optimist

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Thanks to years of tireless activism, advocacy, and modern data collection and analytics, never before have we been able to get a clearer picture of the degree to which gender inequality permeates every part of society. Each day, new reports emerge of how far we are from gender parity across industries, education, and access to healthcare. Given its reach, Elizabeth Nyamayaro, founder of the UN’s HeForShe movement wondered why, for so long, it had been labelled as a “women’s issue,” an inequality left primarily to women to discuss and solve. Having worked at the World Bank before becoming Merck’s head of policy and affairs for the African region, Nyamayaro accepted a position with the UN to consider a new approach.

“Naturally the question was if we are going to do this, what is the best way that we could reapproach this issue of gender equality which has often been seen as a woman's issue? And so we created the HeForShe movement, recognizing that men are part of society. In fact they are one half of society. And yet, at the same time, they also hold the majority of the world's power.”

For Nyamayaro, her career has been defined by asking the questions others were unwilling or unable to ask. Asking how men, who hold most of the world’s power, can become more involved led to the global HeForShe movement. Since 2014, the movement has grown, counting heads of state, the world’s most powerful CEOs, and of course, Emma Watson among its leaders and advocates. So what is HeForShe?

“It was really a call to action for men to say gender equality is your issue too. Please come to the table. Let's work on this in the true sense of solidarity.”

Beyond a call to action, the movement is defined by Nyamayaro’s personal brand of leadership, “my grandmother always used to say that being a leader doesn't mean being in the front, it means removing obstacles so others can lead.”

As governments and global companies commit to achieving gender parity and equal rights, Nyamayaro emphasizes HeForShe’s role as a facilitator, connecting decision-makers with proven policy solutions.

“We are looking at the emerging proven practices and documenting what's working and what isn't working. The ultimate goal for us as a movement is to be a solutions driven movement. There's a huge appetite. People want to change the world. People are looking for solutions on how to change the world and how to end gender inequality.”

Four years in, what proven practices have emerged? In South Africa, a commitment to HeForShe translates into HeForShe Taverns. Local taverns demonstrate their commitment to gender equality by hosting anti-gender violence dialogues, providing regular public health screenings, and prohibiting any form of gender-based harassment in their space. So far, nearly 144 taverns have signed up, engaging more than 4,000 men in anti-gender violence training. In Iceland, all companies with more than 25 employees must receive an annual equal pay certification to operate in the country.

According to Nyamayaro, the key to sustainable change is supporting communities to formulate their own solutions,

“We recognize that cultural transformation happens when the top and the bottom half move at the same time. So it isn't just good enough to say that we have the head of state engaged or the president engaged. We also have to engage the communities. It's empowering the community, letting them create the movement and solve the things in the way that they see fit.”

A commitment to gender equality also means transparency for gender parity data, encouraging accountability and competition among those who participate in HeForShe, “We have a non-negotiable commitment [for organisations] to release their gender parity data. When the data is all out there, they look at each other's data and they say, ‘well I can do better that.’”

Nyamayaro also emphasizes the need for diverse role models and mentors for young people,

“We obviously need to have more female role models for young girls to look up to because you can't be it if you can't see it, but at the same time if you are hoping to create bigger change in the world, if you're hoping to fully realize the leader you want to be, then you are going to need a lot of different skill sets. I've learned different things from different genders.”

For Nyamayaro, she counts empathy as the most important tool for tackling inequality,

“It's having empathy for humanity and recognising how intertwined we are and in trying to approach relationships in a less simplistic way. It isn't a women versus men issue. It's very complex and we have to have compassion and humanity to understand that. It's not them versus us, we're in this together.”

For more from Hayley’s discussion with Elizabeth Nyamayaro, including her first experiences with inequality while returning to her home village in Zimbabwe, listen to the full interview here.

How Tech-Enabled Mentorship Can Accelerate Career Development at NHS

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In June, Prime Minister Theresa May outlined her vision for the future of the NHS. She announced an increase of £20.5 billion in funding by 2023-24 to deliver core performance standards. Prime Minister May called for a “workforce that is empowered to deliver the best possible outcomes, flexible enough to adapt to new models of care and valued for their commitment to NHS”, emphasising career development for NHS employees. She called for alternative routes into medicine and healthcare roles to drive employee recruitment, retention and engagement.

Industry experts have criticised the NHS for its lack of workforce planning. They claim short-term strategies, such as recruiting qualified professionals from overseas, have neglected the careers of existing employees.

In July, Health Education England (HEE) published a draft Workforce Strategy for NHS to 2027. The strategy outlines six principles for NHS workforce decisions. Providing broad pathways for careers in the NHS will be a key principle. Another will be increasing NHS performance by creating high performing teams with skills mixes that benefit productivity and safety.

The NHS has committed to increasing the number of nursing associates and physician associates in response to a projected shortfall of 190,000 employees by 2027. Both new roles provide a work-based route into nursing and medicine for existing staff who may not be able to study full-time at university.

Accelerating on the job career development opportunities

In busy healthcare settings, there often isn’t time to step out of the workforce to attend training full-time. Managers can provide employees with on the job learning opportunities. Enabling trainees to shadow experienced staff and engage a mentor facilitates onsite learning.

WERKIN’s tech-enabled mentoring platform accelerates peer-to-peer learning and development. The technology prompts employees to create profiles of their skills, qualifications and experience. Algorithms digitally match employees with mentors, stretch assignments and multi-disciplinary teams. The technology prompts employees to join teams and meet with mentors. This dynamic approach is time efficient, measurable and scalable.

Skilled multi-disciplinary teams benefit patient outcomes and help individuals to achieve their full potential. They also provide performance support to staff learning new skills. It’s now possible to build high performing teams with the right mix of skills. WERKIN’s nudge technology helps managers to be more effective mentors, accelerating on the job learning for career development.

WERKIN is a technology-enabled mentoring platform. The platform helps global organisations manage, measure and scale mentoring programs. More than 20 financial institutions use WERKIN worldwide. WERKIN is accelerating peer-to-peer learning in large organisations.

How Technology Can Drive More Diverse Leadership at NHS

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Last week, Matt Hancock, Secretary of State for Health and Social Care at NHS, shared his vision for a more technology-driven NHS. His goal is to achieve better patient outcomes and improve the working life of staff. In his speech to the NHS Expo 2018 in London, Minister Hancock stated a digital transformation of this size required a cultural change. He claims this will only be possible with stronger leadership and management.

Earlier this year, the NHS published the results of their annual 2017 NHS Staff Survey. It is the largest workforce survey in the world. 487,727 NHS staff responded to questions about perceptions of their workplace. Staff responded positively to questions about learning and development opportunities. Yet 15.6% said they didn’t feel the NHS acted fairly in relation to career progression and promotion in relation to ethnic background, gender, religion, sexual orientation, disability or age. The survey reported there has been a steady increase of this perception each year since 2013. The result in 2016 was 14.6% and 2013 was 12.5%.

The lack of diversity in NHS senior leadership is a persistent issue. The proportion of Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) staff in Bands 8a-9 and Very Senior Managers is still only 10.4%. However, the NHS frontline workforce is more diverse, on average, than the UK's working population.

Increasing diversity among NHS staff is important. Evidence shows that diverse teams improve the quality of care for patients. Research also shows diverse leaders and managers increase innovation and organisational performance. Yet the survey results show barriers prevent underrepresented groups from achieving their potential.

Technology that democratises career development

WERKIN’s tech-enabled mentoring platform accelerates underrepresented employees into senior roles. WERKIN’s behavioural research-based nudge technology prompts employees to create profiles of their skills, qualifications and experience. Algorithms digitally match employees with mentors, stretch assignments and projects. WERKIN scans employees impartially for capabilities. The technology reduces bias by taking human instinct out of the selection process. Employees receive push notifications to meet, learn and contribute.

Increasing diversity among NHS senior leadership and management is critical to driving cultural change. Yet biases can prevent many employees from achieving their potential. WERKIN’s technology-enabled mentoring platform democratises career development, accelerating underrepresented groups into senior leadership roles. Building a leadership team that mirrors the community it serves is key to improving patient outcomes.

WERKINs technology-enabled mentoring platform helps global organisations manage, measure and scale mentoring programs. More than 20 financial institutions use WERKIN worldwide. WERKIN is accelerating peer-to-peer learning in large organisations.

New Survey Reveals Gap in UK Finance Work Practices is Hampering National Productivity

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The UK Department of Education has released their 2017 Employer Skills Survey results and reveals only 12% of Financial Services companies in the UK incorporate two thirds or more of 21 of High Performance Work Practices (HPWP). The sector ranks 4th behind Public Administration, Education and Health and Social Work. Research shows HPWPs improve financial performance. Given the UK’s long-standing productivity gap compared with international competitors, the survey recommends more businesses adopt more HPWPs.


Based on phone interviews with more than 87,000 UK employers, the biennial survey is the largest of its kind in the world. It captures data on skills needs, skills use and skills development in UK organisations. Along with previous years, this survey included questions about High Performance Work Practices (HPWP) and discovered the proportion of employers utilising HPWP has stagnated. Only 12% of UK Financial Services companies adopt between 14-21 HPWP and 38% incorporate only 1-14 tactics. 50% use none. The survey recommends that those workplaces between 1-14 tactics adopt more tactics to increase business performance. This will in turn improve the UK’s long-standing productivity gap relative to international competitors.

What are High Performance Work Practices?

High Performance Work Practices (HPWP) are people management tactics that increase business productivity and profit. These practices have been shown to increase employee engagement, support high performance and productivity and in turn, increase financial return. High performance practices are grouped across five areas: training planning, organisation, skills, rewards and autonomy. In particular, high performing work places identify talented individuals and create strong project teams that make the best use of their skills.

HPW organisations look for potential and invest in employee development through career development, mentoring programmes and other high performance work practices. They develop people who are uniquely skilled to tackle their business challenges. 

Technology that identifies and develops talent

WERKIN’s mentoring platform prompts candidates to create profiles of their skills, qualifications and experience on their mobile devices. Algorithms digitally match employees with mentors, projects and business challenges. By scanning employees impartially for capabilities, the technology reduces bias by taking human instinct out of the process. Employees receive push notifications to meet, learn and collaborate. WERKIN enables organisations to identify their most qualified candidates for teams and projects, facilitate their development and achieve their full potential.


WERKIN's tech-enabled mentoring platform helps global organisations manage, measure and scale mentoring programmes. Professionals from more than 20 financial institutions use WERKIN worldwide. WERKIN is accelerating peer-to-peer learning in large organisations.


WERKIN with Adam Hale on scaling a company with gender parity

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When asked about his role in taking an HR software tech start-up from 13 to 200 people, increasing its revenue by 1,000%, and its acquisition by Sage, the UK’s leading people management company, for £110 million, Adam Hale describes a story of demotions. Having originally been brought on as a non-executive adviser to scale a promising, but teeny startup, Hale was quickly “demoted” from board member, to executive chair, to CEO.

Known for his hands-on approach and diverse career in technology and headhunting, Hale proved to have the perfect combination needed to scale an innovative cloud-based startup,

“At that point, [Fairsail] was about to switch from being kind of an interesting startup to being the beginning of scale up. We focused on four things. We focused on having a really clear purpose of what we did. We focused on customer success. We focused on great innovation. We focused on building a team. I do believe that great companies are made up of great people.”

Purpose, customer success, innovation, and people—these are the ingredients of a successful and scalable business, according to Hale. It’s not just any people, it’s the best people. Hale’s leadership at Fairsail focused on building a diverse team. Recruiting women engineers ultimately led to near-gender parity across the startup, including on the engineering team. This focus on gender diversity has translated over to Sage People, the company that acquired Fairsail and now has a nearly 50-50 gender balance.

“It’s about having diversity, not just gender diversity but nationality diversity, age diversity, you know, the 50s are the new 30s which we all know anyway.”

But getting to gender balance in engineering requires attention to be paid to computer science education, a personal interest for Hale.

“I’ve been in technology my whole life… just started to discover computers and programming when I was a teenager, then realised you could actually study this at university. I thought ‘why not?’ So I did a computer science degree.”

Hale observes that not all kids have the same support and encouragement to study computer science that he had,

“I am terrified by what's happening with technology education in schools, particularly. Last year 2017, 50,000 girls did Maths A-level [UK standardised testing]. Computing A-level, 816 girls. The lowest number of any A-level subject, repeat: any A-level subject.”

Hale believes that when more girls are encouraged to study computer science and have more access to STEM education early on, this translates into a more balanced pool of engineers powering the future of tech.

If achieving gender balance is part of what it takes to scale up to one of the UK’s largest startup acquisitions, maybe other rising tech companies should take note.

For more from Adam about taking Human Resources into the 21st century and what tech leaders can learn from pig farmers, listen to the rest of Hayley’s interview here.

WERKIN with WIBF Mentor Charlotte Livingston

WERKIN is powering the mentorship programme at the UK’s Women in Banking and Finance, a membership organisation for finance and banking professionals looking to achieve their full career potential, helping to bolster female contribution to the industry along the way.

 Charlotte Livingston,  Managing Director  at RBC and WIBF Mentor

Charlotte Livingston, Managing Director  at RBC and WIBF Mentor

In a recent Ask-Me-Anything, WIBF mentor Charlotte Livingston, spoke with WERKIN’s Relationship Manager, Alex D’Sa, before taking questions from mentors and mentees in the WIBF collective. In the Q+A below, Charlotte shares her journey as Managing Director working in the Institutional Client Management Group at the Royal Bank of Canada:

Alex D’Sa: Please give us an intro to you and an overview of your current job and roles and responsibilities.

Charlotte Livingston: I am a Managing Director working in the Institutional Client Management Group at RBC. I’ve been at RBC for 12 years, prior to which I was at Barclays Capital, before starting out at JP Morgan, where my roles have seen me move from operations, to middle office, then to RBC in the front office. In my current role I view myself as a client specialist, and a product generalist. I cover banking institutions in Spain, France, Germany and Italy. I work across banking groups covering the bank, the asset manager, insurance company, speciality finance subs and any other subsidiaries whilst liaising with C-Suite down to traders, with the aim to institutionalise relationships that RBC has or is targeting.

Alex: Now having a client-facing role, how has your skill set changed moving through operations, middle office, and front office in banking institutions?

Charlotte: Working with clients is harder than people give credit to, as one has to ensure that they are  served  correctly whilst spotting business opportunities. Being organised, at the forefront of thinking about ideas for your clients and immediately following up on requests stands you ahead of the crowd. The beauty of working with clients is that every day is different which I really like, however you do need to be adaptable and be able to think fast on your feet.

Today, especially where more products are becoming commoditised, and technology-driven, the focus on relationships and people is key. In the end, we are human and we like to work with people that we like and relate to.

Alex: What has been the one skill or personality trait that has helped you in your career?

Charlotte: Adaptability – it’s incredibly important throughout your career.

Alongside adaptability I would add common sense. Going with your gut rather than a textbook answer.

Tenacity is also incredibly important. I've learnt as you get older, when to be tenacious, and when to push and when to hold back. Don't be afraid to speak up but choose the right time to do so. Make sure that people know what you want to do and what your aspirations are.

With regards to tenacity, many people don’t follow up. It is not that difficult a thing to do, but not many people do it. Be the person to grab hold of things and run with them. Make sure you bring people with you, be a team player.

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Alex: How have mentors helped shape your decision-making and your career path?

Charlotte: I was very lucky, I had a couple of very good bosses who were mentors. They taught me the importance of being given freedom, and provided enough of a leash for me to see where my capabilities lay, what I could do and what I could be interested in. I work with many graduates who put pressure on themselves believing they need to know what they want to do, I suggest getting as much experience across as many different areas as possible. Don’t give yourself a hard time thinking “I don’t know where I should be.” I think your skillset, what you enjoy and what you don't enjoy actually come out the more types of jobs that you try. As you go up in management, it gets harder to make those moves.

The benefit of mentors is that they provide a different perspective. Getting mentors outside of your organisation or industry can provide a different view on how they would do things, and their own struggles.

They can provide guidance and counsel both from a personal and a work perspective. People can get very tied up in work and loose perspective of what matters and what doesn't matter. Mentors from outside my organisation know me well therefore I think they can be more brutal about what I'm not good at, or how I should hone my skills going forward.

Alex: Touching on that personal element, you've been on maternity leave and you’ve recently come back. What are some factors that supported you to maintain your career trajectory even as you started to family?

Charlotte: I came back after a year off and noted that my time away, whilst seemed long to me, was actually nothing from a work perspective. I got back my client relationships straightaway, and as these were relationships I’ve had for years, luckily they all welcomed me back! When going back to work after any time away its important to hit the ground running, however don't underestimate the difficulty of juggling it all.  It’s important to put the foundations and support network behind you to make sure that you can juggle a successful career with being a parent.

Everyone is different though and you need to consider your role and what you can make work. Since having children, I now get into work early, and as much as I can, I leave at 5pm to have an hour with my kids before bed. It’s not much, but I’ve made it a routine and my colleagues are now aware of my working pattern. I think I am more productive and more effective because I want to get home and see my children. Time is precious, you don’t get it back.

WERKIN’s tech-enabled mentoring platform helps global organisations manage, measure and scale diversity & inclusion programs in today’s workplace. Used in more than 20 financial institutions worldwide, WERKIN is accelerating underrepresented talent into senior executive positions.