We spoke to Liz Jones, Partner at Deloitte, about her work and the importance of inspiration
Please tell us about your role at Deloitte and how you got there
I am a Partner in Deloitte’s Technology practice, working primarily in the public sector to help clients understand and implement business change using technology solutions.
I was always interested in technology and pursued a Computer Science degree at Swansea University. However, I had to leave the course after only two years for financial reasons, and needed to take the first employment opportunity I could get so I was quite worried I would be restricted going forward in my career.
Luckily, I got a job as an assistant to the technical director of a technology and engineering company that designed payphones. I made it clear that I was interested in moving up in the company and that I had ambition. They responded well and, seeing I had talent for the work, opened up opportunities for me to prove myself there. By the time I left, I was working as a software developer.
Once you get your foot on the ladder you can then show your ambition and will to succeed. It’s up to you to highlight what makes you special and make sure it is recognised. I probably wasn’t hired for the route I eventually took, but I was able to change course once they saw what I wanted to achieve.
From that company I moved to the IT department of a large law firm for three years. After working my way up to IT project manager, I decided I would need a change of organisation if I wanted to progress.
I started exploring management consultancy and joined Deloitte at the Experienced Hire level. This meant I was a Senior Consultant, expected to be able to advise clients and take projects forward.
The early days were quite tough; management consultancy was very different to IT. I had to adapt quickly. Skills like clearly articulating and diagnosing a problem; interpersonal communication and putting together solutions became very important in this new environment.
The early days were quite tough...I had to adapt quickly.
Two main things helped me progress: one was the huge network of experienced people I had gathered and the quality of support they offered was tremendous; the other was when I started to work more with public sector clients.
Who inspires you in your work?
I have been lucky enough to work with a lot of senior figures in the Public Sector; people who really do want to help others. I gained real empathy for the industry to the point that after working with the Public Sector from Deloitte for six years, I took three years out to work for a local authority, before returning to Deloitte as a Director.
Working at board level in the Public Sector, you meet people at the pinnacle of their career who have got there because of their passion for the job. That mindset I find inspirational, to dedicate so much of their professional and personal life to their work. It shines through when you talk to them; these unsung heroes.
You meet people at the pinnacle of their career who have got there because of their passion for the job.
As an example of the exciting work I get involved with, my teams are currently helping Police Forces across the UK to design and implement technology solutions that make them mobile. In the days before technology, when a Police Officer’s main tool for crime investigation was a notebook, it was easy for Officers to conduct their work in the community.
Desk based technology solutions have resulted in Police Officers needing to spend more time at the Police Station or Headquarters to record and track case related data. Mobile technology provides exciting opportunities to put more information than ever before within the hands of the Police Officers out in the community. This is the sort of challenge that I love to help with.
What makes someone inspirational?
I think it is fundamentally about passion for what they believe in. I also find that selfless motives often inspire me, from those who really want to help others.
It is fundamentally about passion for what they believe in
Also, those who are brave enough to say that they want to balance their career with their life aspirations. Balance is important and I admire those who manage to get a balance of what matters to them.
I am becoming increasingly impressed by my colleagues who are willing to admit that they have a passion for something other than work and who protect time for it. Often it is family, but sometimes it can be a hobby or special interest that is important to them.
Deloitte has created a network of Respect and Inclusion Champions, of which I am one. The aim of the programme is to celebrate diversity across the workforce, showcasing role models from all backgrounds who manage their careers in a range of ways.
We make it clear that we value people for all their contributions and we strive to have a varied workforce, including those from a non-traditional career path, like me. It’s all about removing any real or perceived barriers to anyone enjoying their career at Deloitte.