Women in Digital: Laura Barrowcliff

GBG’s head of strategy Laura Barrowcliff on starting her new role as head of strategy in a pandemic, and why side steps can be as important as upward steps in your career

Posted 6 September 2021 by Christine Horton

Did you enjoy school?

School was slightly wasted on me when I was very young, I’m afraid, but my love of learning increased as I got older! Around the time I did my A-Levels I became a lot happier, engaged and more interested at school.

What qualifications do you have?

After A-levels I did a degree in English language at Liverpool University followed by a CIM diploma in marketing. I also hold a professional diploma in management from Coventry University, and a certificate in Strategy from the SAID Business School.

Has your career path been a smooth transition, a rocky road or combination of both?

It’s been pretty smooth although I have gone around a few blind bends! Before coming to GBG, I was working for a small company which unfortunately went into liquidation, so I actually started at GBG on a 10-month fixed-term contract, and I’m here 10 years later! I’ve worked hard, have been ambitious and made sure I was open to good opportunities as they have arisen, but I haven’t always had a structured career plan, which I think has actually helped me gain experience by taking side steps as well as upward ones. 

What’s the best career advice you can give to others?

Always make sure you’re accountable for your actions, behave with integrity and be self-aware. Embrace challenges and don’t be afraid to put yourself out of your comfort zone. Most importantly, be you!

If you had to pick one mentor who has had the biggest influence on you, who would it be?

My current boss, Mick Hegarty, has really helped me with my career progress. He inspired me to move from a product role to one running strategic projects. I’ve learnt so much from him since we’ve worked together and continue to do so.

From where do you draw inspiration?

I have some amazing colleagues (many of them women) who are fantastic role models. I also still find myself being inspired by my family – my parents were always ambitious for me at the same time as working really hard themselves.

What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced to date?

Like many other working parents, home schooling during lockdown was something I hadn’t bargained for! Trying to keep two primary-aged kids, happy, fed and educated, while working full time was definitely a challenge, but as with all of life’s trials you get through it. Put it this way, my colleagues saw a lot of my kids during our Teams calls!  

What qualities do you feel makes a good leader?

Clear communication, transparency, honesty, and integrity. Emotional intelligence and being respectful of others and recognising that everyone is different and has their own unique role to play within a wider team.

From a work viewpoint what has 2021 been like for you so far?

I began a new role as head of strategy in 2020, which obviously brought with it a new and varied set of challenges. Along with navigating my new role while working under lockdown, the pandemic meant that digital identity and the need for a frictionless digital customer experience became absolutely critical for both our business customers and the millions of people worldwide who use their services. This gave my work real purpose and really made me excited for what every day would bring and what I’d achieve with the help of my colleagues.

Give us a fact about you that most other people wouldn’t know.

I’m a pretty good tap dancer! These days I mainly do this in my kitchen, but I do have some trophies to show from back when I took it more seriously.