What does Ethical Data, mean to you?

With an increased awareness in the protection and abuse of our personal data, it’s now commonplace to find the words ‘ethical’ and ‘moral’ thrown into everyday conversations about data but, while we need to be having this conversation, do we all understand what it means? The debate about ethics is vital. As technology professionals we carry a responsibility to not just protect the data we come into contact with but also reassure the professionals, consumers and spectators that sit outside of the industry – that we’re the good guys.  But, what I find fascinating is not perhaps the debate itself but rather, the disparity in definitions of ‘Ethical Data’ and how drastically they can differ. I started thinking about this almost a year ago when we produced our first tech-focused white paper on the Human Face of Data Science. It was an interview with former Data Science lead at NASA, Adi Andrei who really got me thinking about this human side of data, not just the humans effected by poor use of data but how the philosophy of it can have a huge impact on society.  He spoke about the fear-factor of data and how implications of roles being replaced with robots does nothing to help our economy, instead it produces resentment to innovation and leaves professionals questioning their survivability in a modern age.  Adi suggested that we as professionals have a responsibility to promote technology as an empowering tool and not a debilitating one. He also spoke about the responsibility he has as a Data Scientist to work solely with ‘ethical companies’. This means not working with organisations who abuse the data you waive the rights to or who abuse your behavioural traits and translate them into profit.  While this seems like a simple explanation of ‘Ethical Data’ some people have very different definitions. Some for instance believe that by simply delving into this data, without using it, is unethical as it abuses the privacy of its owner but I’m not sure I agree with this one.  For me, that’s the magic of data, being able to delve into the behavioural habits behind spending and the psychology behind clicks to come up with the answers to a whole host of things - but this doesn't mean it has to be abused. I agree with Adi that we all have a responsibility to be ethical, righteous and sensitive with the data that falls in our laps but that shouldn't have to restrict us.  I attended Big Data LDN this week and was wowed by some of the incredible technology and tools on display – a giant Pac Man amongst other things – but the thing that really blew my mind was a company called TIBCO which through analytic insights is able to monitor Lewis Hamilton as he is driving. The behaviours and decisions behind the manoeuvres in order to present him with different ways to drive faster, push harder and be better. This for me was magic but others may deem it as unethical. I’d like to hear your thoughts on ‘Ethical Data’ – what does it mean to you?

What does 'Women in Business' mean to you?

‘Women in Business’ is a phrase coined to the equality movement and marks a huge step-change in supporting female professionals around the world. Whether it’s Women in Finance, Women in Cyber or Women in Tech – it’s a term used to build a support network for professional women around the world and while it can be great, it’s not always used for good. Dominated historically by the loudest voices, ‘Women in Business’ can be found plastered across stages at conferences, trending daily on LinkedIn and dished up alongside lip-service to serve organisations wanting to appear as more inclusive and unfortunately it’s working.. or, at least it did. The overdone phrase is now met with public mistrust, frustration and even resentment mirroring the hijacking of the Feminism Movement that was once cheered and not ignored. We’re on a mission to change that. Change the way the phrase is used and perceived by restoring its original purpose and use it for good. Starting with the very women in our own network, we are using ‘Women in Business’ to engage, encourage, empower and inspire female professionals who have a voice but are being prevented from using it. Our Having a Voice at the Table event series brings together the UK’s leading women from different business disciplines, colour codes, backgrounds, skill-sets, strengths, weaknesses and opinions about womanhood and just about everything else.  We don’t talk about inequality, diversity, talent attraction, ticking a box or discrimination – negative or positive discrimination. Essentially, we don’t discuss anything that ‘Women in Business’ events might often be associated with and instead bring powerful women together and encourage them to tell their stories.  Be it balancing motherhood with leadership, finding your authentic self and staying true to it, finding ‘me time’ or finding a mentor, we discuss how to use our downfalls as women to become more successful and so far, it’s been brilliant. Over the course of two events we have heard from four exceptional women who shared their stories of leadership and womanhood. Xenia Walters, Group CFO of SDL opened our first ever Women in Business event. She spoke about the power balance in the Board Room and at home with her husband a successful executive and two children who see them both as equal, she also spoke about building a work ethic aged seven and using your weaknesses as strengths. She stressed the importance of an Executive Coach to help you stop and reflect and spoke of having it all, as a myth. Elona Mortimer-Zhika, CEO of IRIS Software Group joined Xenia at our first event and advocated the vitality of choosing meritocracy over positive discrimination, how it can often be lonely at the top and how as a leader who is also a mother, finding the balance between being great at work and great at home; and also great to herself, is a huge struggle. She also discussed how finding friends at the school gate was her saviour in balancing work and motherhood with ‘me time’. Our second event which took place just this week saw CFO of the Ambassador Theatre Group, ShanMae Teo, discuss climbing the ranks through a heavily male-dominated Private Equity industry and using her current position to promote equality not just for women but for men too – encouraging her male peers and reports to do the ‘admin’, go to the doctors appointments and the school pick-ups because while helping him to be a better father, you’re helping a woman on the other side of the fence who gets to stay at work a little longer. We also heard from Author and Executive Coach Joanna Kane who spoke about the wake-up call that changed her life. Working harder than anyone else, she believed to be a successful woman she needed to work tirelessly and became ill in the process – this she describes as the leading moment to the thing that changed her life, offered her a second career and gave her the inspiration to help other women move forward in their lives with more clarity, conviction and joy. These events not only allow women who may be silently struggling to ask for help and resonate with the powerful speeches delivered by these four exceptional women, it also offers them the chance to interact with a group of passionate women under Chatham House Rule – a safe space to discuss challenges they may also be facing, what holds them back and what they are committed to changing.  Our interactive workshop allows these phenomenal women to truly self-reflect and ask themselves what is holding them back from an astounding year ahead and build a tool-kit to help them get there. Two events, 80 women and a whole lot of positivity is the start to reclaiming the term ‘Women in Business’ and I’m confident we are making a dent in the professional world – a dent that is sure to empower women in business everywhere.

Unconscious Bias: Papering over the cracks?

You can barely get through a conversation with an HR professional without hearing the term ‘unconscious bias’. It’s been crowned the HR buzzword of 2019 and if I’m honest, I can’t wait to see the back of it. That isn’t because I don’t believe in the cause nor do I question its existence, in fact, it’s for that very reason that I am wholly against us promoting the term in the same way we pay lip service to gender, racial, intergenerational, hierarchical and disability diversity. Unconscious bias is defined as prejudice or unsupported judgements in favour of or against one thing, person or group compared to another that is deemed to be unfair and it’s most commonly found within the recruitment process. Often we see organisations turning away candidates due to an implied origin, sexuality, gender or ability – which is very different to competency – and, as a result of these systemic prejudices and ingrained behaviours, the recruitment world has introduced measures like blind CVs, AI-tailored sourcing and a whole range of initiatives to improve diversity on a whole such as balanced shortlists. But, while it’s healthy and encouraging to have these conversations – are we just allowing the worst offenders to continue their hiring habits, hiding in the noise of the trend? And, are we just mirroring the gender pay reports and ‘me too’ movements dominating headlines with little changing in terms of behaviour or attitudes in the Board room? Many organisations; especially big ones, do a great job of publishing big and brash statements to portray their collective outrage about diversity imbalances such as gender and mobility yet, many fail to actually put any mechanisms or process in place to ensure the agendas are seen through. What’s more, how many organisations do you know that have measurements in place to assess the successfulness of such initiatives?  I’m seeing the very same thing happen with unconscious biases in the hiring process. Many organisations will request a female candidate rather than seek out diversity of thought for instance which not only promotes positive discrimination but also begs the question, do they care about gender diversity at Board level, or, are they filling a quota to meet their external branding? In a similar fashion, many organisations claim to leave unconscious biases at the office door yet refuse to accept blind CVs. The resume, competencies, experience and skillset remain the same – it’s the name that paints a full picture of a person which ultimately, infers bias. I’m really keen to hear from my HR network about the plight of unconscious bias. Are we papering over the cracks with the conversation or, is work going on behind the scenes to really, really improve this?

Does lip service apply to the ESG market too?

ESG may be on the agenda of almost every organisation in Asia but how many companies truly understand it and most importantly, how many truly care? We have reached a point in society when the term ‘lip service’ is almost as commonplace as diversity within business and an ingrained mistrust in organisations is having a detrimental effect on their future talent pools with professionals questioning the legitimacy of public promises of gender, racial and intergenerational diversity. I’m beginning to see the same pattern appear within the ESG marketplace too as organisations promise to care about building a sustainable and ethical organisation with a low carbon footprint but fail to deliver on any evidence and unsurprisingly, it’s leaving the top tier of ESG talent within the Asset Management space questioning their choices. In the same way as we see organisations publicly championing gender diversity and publishing gender pay reports to match, organisations across the APAC region need to start proving they aren’t just talking about environmental change. They need to show the world that they are tirelessly trying to make ethical investments, avoid unconscious bias and make the move to sustainability.  Coca-Cola is a great example of an organisation pledging a focus on ESG to redeem their brand. With Ocean hoovers and promises to collect more bottles than they distribute, the FTSE 50 organisation are going above and beyond to show their customer and employee demographic that they have no room for lip service where ESG is concerned and it’s about time other companies follow suit. We are producing a white paper focused on the importance of ESG within Asset Management, more specifically, tailored to the exceptional professionals looking for a role that really matters and the organisations trying to home them.  I would love to hear your views on the ESG marketplace in Asia – do you think it’s time for a change?

The Hong Kong Recruitment Market needs a shake-up

Eight weeks ago, I moved to Hong Kong and it already feels like home.  Having spent seven years working across the UK IT Recruitment Sector I decided it was time for a change and so I packed a bag and said goodbye to Cardiff.  I was expecting to undergo some transitionary period; a culture shock you could say, but with a thriving social scene, diverse culture and millions of people from all walks of life on your doorstep, it was an easy move. There was however, one difference and that was the contract market in Hong Kong. It remains to be behind anything I have ever seen in the UK and despite there being a huge skills shortage with more positions than people, the contracting market is frowned upon and contractors are thought of as professionals unable to get a permanent role rather those seeking career diversity. What also struck me as strange was the fact that contractors in Hong Kong receive the same salary as those in permanent employment which removes the financial reward that comes hand-in-hand with the Interim world of work in the UK and removing the attraction to it as a result. While I understand the benefits of permanent employment, I also see the necessity for contract work - especially in the technology and digital world where a variety of cultures means for an abundance of Hong Kong narrative speakers and a real language barrier. I’ve found that international businesses in the tech space are absolutely fine, the likes of Facebook, Netflix and Google. But, it’s the local businesses that are really suffering. If these employees were contractors, coming in to complete a programme or implementation and then leaving it would be fine but these are permanent employees, not able to communicate with their employers. The biggest issue is that local businesses in desperate need of technological help are putting their needs on hold to find the perfect person with the technological and social competencies but it’s slowing them down and depriving them of the top tier of technical talent. While this issue appears not to be a new one, I am keen to speak to my new network in Hong Kong to hear your views on contracting and see if you are open-minded to hiring on an Interim basis to fill the skills-gap?

The Importance of Role-Plays

Last week I took a trip to Hong Kong and it was incredible. The food, the culture, the people and the roleplays. All 12 hours of them! Over the course of the week the team in our Hong Kong office and I performed role plays ranging from business development calls and client meetings to first interview calls and candidate meetings.  It was fascinating to see the way our consultants have learnt to engage with customers across the APAC region, how they handle objections, and how they deal with situations outside of their comfort zone. The role plays helped to uncover many great things that our Hong Kong team are already doing. What was really interesting was to see how the team has learnt, working in a diverse city, how to tailor their approach to people of all walks of life. A big focus was placed on building relationships with all of our contacts on a personal level which is at the very core of what we do across Stanton House – it was amazing to see this living and breathing in a different environment. The week of role plays also uncovered a range of development issues for the people and the team which were truly insightful not just for the individuals but for the management team in understanding where pain points exist and what steps we can take together in solving them. For me, the most gratifying part of the week was hearing our leaders talk about developing their local learning culture which they now believe should include role plays as part of their everyday.  As I embark on a new week back in London I have reflected on the incredible journey I took just last week and am truly overwhelmed to see how seriously all parts of our business take their learning journey and excited to see what’s to come!

Is it advantageous to be a specialist or generalist within the Finance Transformation space?

There are two types of Finance Transformation professional - Specialists and Generalists. Specialists are often given niche titles, like P2P Global Process Owner and S4HANA System Implementation Lead, and a set of very specific responsibilities. Alternatively, generalists see themselves as all-encompassing Finance Transformation professionals with a broad experience of doing a bit of everything in every arena, whether that be for example, a system implementation, shared service centre set up or process improvement project.  While there is a clear divide between the two types of professionals, what there isn’t is an understanding of which one is the best and as an organisation, which is more desirable. I have posed this very question to many of my clients and it seems they too are torn.  Some show a preference for specialist professionals who can come in with a wealth of knowledge about a niche subject while others reap the benefits of a generalist who brings the benefits of a diverse and varied career path and can likely turn their hand to any project thrown at them. While many remain undecided, I’m keen to hear your opinion of what the optimum Finance Transformation professional looks like and what experience they bring to the table. Are they specialist, are they generalist, have they started their career as a specialist and branched out into other areas or have they over time narrowed down their focus to one specialism after climbing the ranks as a generalist? I had this very conversation today with Finance Transformation Director in my network. Despite spending his 30-something years as a Finance Transformation professional in different pockets of transformation projects, he will only hire specialist people into his team. His experience is so varied in fact that its quite unbelievable but while he has developed a great understanding of Finance Transformation programmes over the years, his worry is that his successors will merely be a Jack of all trades in this space and a master of none. This made me wonder, is he being too selective by assuming the next generation of leaders haven’t followed his exact path or, has he got a point? In my opinion, a diverse career history is not only a vital attribute of every professional but it also makes for a better leader with more adaptability, leadership skills, stakeholder engagement capabilities and a general understanding of how different finance transformation projects operate.  On the other hand, I understand that if you have a specific need you would naturally opt to hire a person with the exact career profile and is hedging a bet on someone’s similar competencies asking too much of our clients?  It’s a risk but is it worth the risk and worth staying open-minded for someone with a diverse skill-set to bring to the role? I’d like to hear from you. What makes for the better Finance Transformation professional – a generalist, a specialist or, both?


SCC Transformation Lead Up to £600 a day Reading Learning and Development Manager £45,000 - £50,000 per annum + bonus + benefits West Sussex Process Analyst - Telecoms Estates Transformation £400 - £475 per day Hampshire P2P Process SME £500 - £600 per day London Security Software Engineer US $90,000 - $110,000 per annum Chicago Senior Project Manager £65,000 - £70,000 per annum + bonus West London Head of Pricing & Commercial Finance £100,000 - £105,000 per annum + car allowance + bonus London A wider selection of current vacancies can be viewed on our opportunities page or get in touch for a confidential discussion about how Stanton House can help you hire great people or assist with your own career goals.

What do millennials really want?

Generalisations, until now, have indicated that millennials want few things. Access to leadership, flexible working and sustainability at work. Surveys have evidenced this too with hundreds of young workers claiming they want open offices, relationships with stakeholders, work-life balance and an organisation that really cares about making a positive social impact. But, as we approach 2020, are attitudes shifting back to a more traditional way of working? In the last few days, articles have populated social media platforms about the negative side of open-plan offices and how its having an adverse effect on young people, women in particular. A recent study published on The Royal Society claims open-plan offices designed to encourage collaboration and enhance transparency are actually leaving female workers feeling overexposed and ‘continually observed’ with one female study even likening the architectural style as a ‘fish bowl experiment’ where she feels constantly monitored and watched. At Stanton House, open-plan offices are ingrained in our culture – access to leadership, relaxed hierarchy and open communication – I can’t imagine it working any differently and as an HR Consultant, I also can’t help but think about the array of positive things my network have told me about open-plan working and how it’s motivated them to be better. I’d like to hear from you – are we finding a negative within a positive or is open-plan working soon to be a thing of the past?

A leap of faith that really paid off

As many of you will know last month 11 of my colleagues jumped out of a plane in aid of our charity partner EducAid and well, you could say it really took off.Not only did many of the team conquer their fear of heights while plunging 11,000 feet into thin air but EducAid hugely benefited in the process as we raised a total of more than £5,000.While it was incredible to see the generosity of our family, friends and contacts across LinkedIn and beyond I wanted to spend some time acknowledging my personal network who exceeded any possible expectation and contributed a huge amount to that total – despite me not me actually making the plunge!I had asked my network to support my fellow colleagues and it was overwhelming to see the sheer volume of responses I received from all of you, on behalf of my peers, just because you like what we do at Stanton House.I have been a major part of our CSR committee from London for five years now and in half a decade I have never seen such generosity and also, such a heart-warming message that our partnership with EducAid resonates with so many you.As a result of the skydive and your generosity, we have together been able to raise enough to home, educate and look after 20 children in Sierra Leone for a whole year.Thank you.

Stanton House is APSCo's Recruitment Company of the Year 2019

Stanton House has officially been crowned Recruitment Company of the year and what a phenomenal year it has been. In an awards ceremony held in London last night, CEO Neil Wilson and Finance Director Jo Finch received the prestigious prize as it was announced that Stanton House was the 2019 APSCo Recruitment Company of the Year - in the £10m to £50m Turnover category. As the pair collected the award, it was noted that Stanton House has dedicated its nine years in business to creating exceptional customer experiences and transforming the reputation of the recruitment industry. Founder and Global CEO of APSCo, Ann Swain, said: “This company clearly demonstrated its belief to improving customer experience is the key to improving the reputation of the recruitment sector. The judges felt this succinctly summarised the key to excellent recruitment.” The Recruitment Company of the Year title must be awarded to an organisation operating in either Permanent or Interim markets that has most consistently demonstrated the professional values and exceptional performance associated with APSCo membership throughout the past 12 months and it is a phenomenal achievement to be recognised as one of just four companies titled in 2019. Neil said; "We are delighted to be recognised by APSCo as the Recruitment Company of the Year. It is particularly gratifying because the judges emphasised that they were struck by our commitment to delivering exceptional customer experiences. From day one at Stanton House we set out to make that the cornerstone of how we do business. That has been acknowledged consistently by our clients and candidates so it is very rewarding to have it further validated by the recruitment sector experts at APSCo." Stanton House was founded in 2010 to transform the reputation of the recruitment industry by placing the customer at the forefront of everything we do. In our 10th year of business, we are truly honoured and filled with pride that this has been recognised by such a prestigious and renowned organisation.

Reverse-Mentoring - An interview with Sarah Dena of Royds Withy King

Mentor. Verb. To advise or train someone, especially a younger colleague. Reverse-Mentoring. Verb. To do the above, in reverse. As a trend, reverse-mentoring has been weaving in and out of popularity since the 1990’s.  It was popularised by General Electric in 1999 when former CEO; Jack Welch, tasked 500 junior associates with teaching a board of executives how to use the Internet. Two decades later and we might need it more than ever.  In November 2018 we created a white paper to discuss the power of mentoring and its ability to improve not just intergenerational but hierarchical, racial and gender diversity in the workplace. We conducted exclusive interviews with the likes of EY, Microsoft and BNP Paribas, conducted FTSE analysis and offered practical guidance to present mentoring as a tool to break down internal barriers, diversify talent pools and support commercial objectives. One year later and the paper has had a huge impact on our network prompting many to introduce their own scheme.  This is the story of Royds Withy King and how Learning and Development Manager Sarah Dena introduced a phenomenal reverse-mentoring scheme across the entire law firm after reading our white paper. Sarah requested a copy of our white paper having seen it advertised online. She was always interested in the concept of reverse-mentoring but like many other HR professionals, was unsure of how to implement it to such a large scale across the entire organisation.  She said: “It really did shape my thinking for the mentoring programme that we subsequently rolled out. It presented this idea that I had been thinking about for a while and it laid out the exact steps I needed to take to get there. I remember a quote from Célisiane of BNP Paribas who said if you don’t have C-Level buy in, don’t bother trying reverse-mentoring as you need that top-down sponsorship. I had been approaching it from a bottom-up angle and that statement alone completely transformed my way of thinking. “It took courage to go to the MD of the law firm suggesting that he be reverse-mentored but it really couldn’t have worked any better and a testament to his leadership and commitment to a culture of learning. He is currently in two mentoring partnerships, one of whom is a trainee in her mid-20s in the first year of her training contract. They could not be any more different in terms of their background and journeys but they are finding common ground and ways to support each other’s objectives from the mentoring partnership.“In terms of logistics, our mentoring partnerships meet once a month. Time is a really sensitive matter in professional services, so asking someone to commit one hour per month for six months is tough. I had to be very prescriptive with the time commitment in order to get mentor buy-in and I gave an end-date to the mentoring partnership of 6 months so that there was clarity on when the partnership was considered to have met the minimum required number of meetings. Preparation and management of the partnerships’ mission is on the individual too, which aligns with our talent philosophy which puts the individual in the driving seat of their personal and professional development. That helped with mentor engagement to move the programme forward. I have decided to not restrict the relationship with an end date. This should be up to the two individuals taking part and is more in the spirit of traditional mentoring, where relationships can span decades and careers.  “We have 12 other pairings with employees of different levels and functions. We have a really blended mix of people which works brilliantly and have adapted the original definition of reverse-mentoring to encompass mentoring partnerships. In an environment where seniority really does count, we have decided the partnership angle works really well as after all, it is a two-way exchange. “To allow more mentoring partnerships across the firm the HR team are enabling a Mentor Matching function in their LMS which will support individuals to create personalised searches for mentors and connect with them directly with appropriate and available mentors for a chemistry conversation. This streamlines the process and embeds it as part of the learning culture at Royds Withy King.” At Stanton House we believe that content is a powerful thing and that by producing truly insightful white papers with the thought-leaders that exist within our network and beyond, we can truly make a difference and add value to the way you work everyday.  If you have read one of our white papers and have since seen a positive impact on your development or organisation please get in touch and share your story but if you haven’t read our Reverse-Mentoring white paper, you can download it below! Download our white paper on Reverse-Mentoring

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