Name: Georgia Lee
Title: Senior Director
Organisation: Publicis Sapient
An accomplished and innovative Senior Business Leader and Board Director with over 30 years’ experience in highly successful companies driving take up of services in Telecommunications, Cloud Solutions, Wireless Applications, Mobility, Digital, Media and Finance Sectors. A proven track record in establishing, designing and implementing strategy and digital transformation programs for multiple companies across retail, supply chain, sales channels and customer experience . Established commercial and business proficiency with strong management, communication and negotiation skills.
Throughout Georgia’s career she has played key roles in leading, shaping ad defining business propositions with large scale and complex dynamics delivering through change management and business transformation. Inspired, creative, analytical and energetic when faced with challenges. She is very knowledgeable and passionate about take up of new technologies.
Thank you to the 2,000 leaders who’ve generously done the 7 Questions on Leadership!
I hope Georgia's answers will encourage you in your leadership journey. Enjoy!
1. What have you found most challenging as a leader?
As a female leader driving digital business transformation and disrupting the status quo, especially within traditionally competitive or cutthroat corporate cultures, I have often faced specific challenges. These include:
Stereotypes and Bias: Overcoming biases that might label assertive women as "aggressive" or innovative ideas as "risky."
Credibility Struggles: Establishing credibility in environments where masculine leadership traits are often valued more.
Resistance to Change: Pushback from those who are resistant to change or view new approaches as threatening.
Navigating Power Dynamics: Challenging established power dynamics that can be particularly entrenched in competitive cultures.
Lack of Mentorship: Finding mentors who understand and can guide through the specific challenges faced by women in this context.
Balancing Confidence and Humility: Striking the right balance between being confident about one's vision while remaining open to feedback.
Networking Hurdles: Overcoming limited access to networks that might be more readily available to male counterparts.
Work-Life Integration: Managing the intense demands of transformation while still addressing societal expectations around caregiving and family responsibilities.
Overcoming Tokenism: Navigating situations where women might be seen as symbolic appointments rather than driving genuine change.
Self-Advocacy: Proactively advocating for opportunities, promotions, and resources without fear of backlash.
Often I have had success in transforming businesses and disrupting established cultures by harnessing my unique strengths, fostering diverse and inclusive teams, and leveraging my ability to bring fresh perspectives and empathetic leadership styles to the forefront.
2. How did you become a leader? Can you please briefly tell the story?
As a professional who started their career in account management, I was able to gain a deep understanding of client needs and building strong relationships. With time, I transitioned into product management, honing my skills in understanding market trends, developing innovative solutions, and working cross-functionally.
As I excelled in these roles, I began taking on leadership responsibilities, mentoring junior team members and showing a knack for strategic thinking. Then I actively sought opportunities to expand my knowledge, pursuing relevant courses or certifications to add to my Bachelor of Business and Marketing.
My success and versatility caught the attention of senior management and when a new cross company project was established I was offered the role of Program Leader. With my blend of client-centric insights from account management and strategic product vision from product management made me an ideal candidate to lead the company's overall operations, aligning teams, and driving innovation.
In the new role, I leveraged my diverse experiences to create a collaborative culture, fostering open communication between departments and ensuring that customer feedback was integrated into product development. My journey from account management to product management provided a solid foundation for understanding the business and technical sides of the company, which was crucial in steering the new program towards success.
3. How do you structure your work days from waking up to going to sleep?
As a female leader who is also raising three children with a very supportive husband and family I have had to learn to follow a semi-structured routine that balances my leadership responsibilities and my family commitments. Here's a typical outline of my work day:
Early Rise: I have always been an early riser so up early, often before the kids, to have some quiet time for myself .
Self-Care: I like to include a walk and some journaling to start the day positively.
Morning Rituals: When the kids were younger I would have to dedicate time to help get the kids ready for school, checking they have a healthy breakfast and are prepared for the day.
We often drive together to start the day so we got time to help them with schoolwork, share stories, and have some fun.
Structured Work Blocks: there are always structured work blocks to focus on important meetings, decision-making, and strategic tasks.
Effective Delegation: Delegation is key to my leadership style. I like to empower my team, trusting them with responsibilities to manage daily operations.
Flexibility: I have always embraced a flexible work environment, allowing me and other team members to attend children's activities or appointments as needed, thanks to the support of all the team.
Lunch Break: I always like to take some time around lunch to make sure I can check in on the team and also catch up with any friends or family that have some time.
Afternoon Work: Afternoon work hours are used for collaborative projects, responding to emails, and connecting with stakeholders.
Transition Time: As the workday ends, that transition back to family mode has always been a most important time of the day. One key trick that has kept me balanced is being able to have a relaxing bath to let go of the work day and then to start engaging with the kids about their day and helping with homework.
Family Dinner: I have always prioritised family dinners, using this time to connect, share stories, and discuss upcoming events.
Bedtime Routine: This has changed over time and now the kids are much older this is time for my husband and I to connect and discuss the day and catch up on news.
Personal Growth: I might use this time for personal development, whether it's reading, taking courses, or pursuing hobbies.
Rest and Repeat:
Adequate Rest: I have always prioritises sleep and rest to get enough sleep to recharge for the next day.
As a leader I balance all my responsibilities by maintaining a structured routine, embracing flexibility, and involving my children in my life as much as possible. Open communication with her team and a strong support system at work and home contribute to my ability to excel both as a leader and a mother.
4. What's a recent leadership lesson you've learned for the first time or been reminded of?
The recent Women’s World Cup provided powerful insights into leadership lessons about belief and teamwork.
During the World Cup, our national women's soccer team faced formidable opponents, and they were initially seen as underdogs. However, their coach instilled a strong sense of belief in the team's abilities and emphasised the importance of working together as a cohesive unit.
Confidence Building: The coach consistently reinforced the team's strengths, reminding them of their skills and achievements.
Positive Mindset: The players began to believe that they could compete at the highest level and win against stronger teams.
Resilience: Even in challenging moments, the team's belief in their abilities allowed them to keep pushing forward.
Unified Purpose: The players recognised that their individual skills were enhanced when they worked together toward a common goal.
Effective Communication: They developed strong communication on and off the field, understanding each other's strengths and strategies.
Support and Collaboration: Instead of relying solely on star players, the team embraced a collaborative approach, leveraging each member's strengths.
In the end, this team's story of belief and teamwork led to an impressive performance in the World Cup. They not only reached the later stages of the tournament but also captured the hearts of fans worldwide. This serves as a valuable leadership lesson that belief in oneself and fostering a culture of teamwork can lead to remarkable achievements even in the face of challenges or adversity.
5. What's one book that has had a profound impact on your leadership so far? Can you please briefly tell the story of how that book impacted your leadership?
One highly recommended book with a profound impact on my leadership is "Leaders Eat Last" by Simon Sinek. In this book, Sinek explores the dynamics of leadership and how great leaders create environments that foster trust, collaboration, and success. He draws on examples from various fields, including the military, business, and social sciences, to illustrate his points.
The central concept of the book is that effective leaders prioritise the well-being of their teams and create a sense of safety and belonging. Sinek delves into the biological and psychological aspects of human behavior, explaining how leaders who prioritised the needs of their team members create a culture of loyalty and dedication.
"Leaders Eat Last" emphasises the importance of empathy, service, and ethical leadership. It provides actionable insights for cultivating an environment where people feel valued, motivated, and empowered to contribute their best. If you're looking for a book that challenges traditional leadership paradigms and offers a fresh perspective, this one is definitely worth exploring.
6. If you could only give one piece of advice to a young leader, what would you say to them?
The one piece of advice I would give to a young leader would be the power of networking and how it is crucial for young leaders. One piece of advice would be to approach networking with authenticity. Instead of focusing solely on what you can gain, aim to build genuine connections. Be curious about others' experiences, offer help when you can, and be a reliable source of support. Authentic networking not only helps you create valuable relationships but also establishes your reputation as a trustworthy and collaborative leader.
7. What is one meaningful story that comes to mind from your time as a leader, so far?
One powerful lesson for leaders is the importance of embracing failure as a learning opportunity. Failure is a natural part of growth and innovation, and leaders who view it as a stepping stone rather than a setback can create a culture where experimentation and improvement are valued.
The meaningful story is when i worked for a tech startup led by a visionary entrepreneur. The team embarked on a project that held immense promise, but due to unforeseen challenges and market shifts, the project failed to meet its goals. The leader could have reacted negatively, but instead, they gathered the team and openly discussed the reasons behind the failure.
The leader shared their own experiences of failure earlier in their career and how those failures had ultimately led to valuable insights and future successes. The team was encouraged to reflect on what went wrong, but more importantly, on what they had learned. This open discussion fostered a culture where failure was seen as a stepping stone, not a stumbling block.
The startup pivoted, applying the lessons from the failed project to new endeavors. The team's resilience and willingness to learn from failure ultimately led to the creation of a groundbreaking product that catapulted the company's success.
This story illustrates how a leader's approach to failure can set the tone for their team's attitude toward setbacks. By openly acknowledging failure, sharing personal experiences, and emphasising the learning that comes from it, leaders can inspire a culture of innovation, continuous improvement, and fearlessness.