Life at LACE interview - Chris Howard

Life @ LACE – Fostering a culture of innovation

Having just celebrated my ‘half birthday’ at LACE Partners (that’s a thing, right? I mean, I get Prezzo offers of Prosecco for my actual birthday, so surely a ‘half work anniversary’ counts too?), I thought I would provide an ‘insider’s view’ on working within what we believe is the leading boutique HR consultancy in the UK. For those of you unfamiliar with our regular ‘Life @ LACE’ series, it is an opportunity for us to explain in a little bit more detail what makes the business tick, but also give those people who could be ‘LACEr’s in future an opportunity to get an idea of our culture.

I also like to think that getting that ‘insider’s view’ can be beneficial for any organisation you work with, because when you work with suppliers, clients or any kind of stakeholder, having synergies in your values as a business are really important. That’s particularly the case when you work in ‘people’ industries. Previously I’ve worked in the recruitment industry which is as people centric as HR. In my time working there, as well as in the HR space now, it’s very clear that having cultural alignment between businesses makes relationships and projects more successful.

My first impressions

So, I’m six months in, I’ve begun to really understand what makes LACE Partners ‘tick’, I’ve looked under the bonnet and had a nose around and it has been a really valuable experience for me. When you join any organisation, you want to feel welcomed but you also want to add value as soon as possible. I think one of the benefits of working with a smaller and more agile businesses like LACE, is that you get to broaden your own skills a lot quicker than you might in a larger business. Within weeks of joining, I was involved in the preparations for our flagship annual people_tech event, I was helping to deliver the content strategy and I was beginning to get a fuller understanding of our offerings. But what struck me above all else was the willingness of the team to support individuals, even if they aren’t working in your specific area. There is a real ‘collegiate’ feel to the place; an underlying culture of ‘we’re all in this together’. This is especially important when you work in a smaller business because you need to feel that there are people you can talk to and ask for support, who would be happy to ‘chip in’ which is certainly the case at LACE.

A focus on Innovation

I think this sense of belonging helps to foster innovation at LACE. The team aren’t afraid to take on new projects, learn new skills, admit when they need a hand and feel comfortable speaking up to suggest improvements. I have been a marketeer for over 15 years across a number of companies and one of the biggest things I’ve learned is that there are always ‘tweaks’ you can make to improve your processes and deliverables. If you have enough people involved who understand what your goals, but also bring their own ideas, you can achieve excellence. Creativity in a business – in my opinion – should never come from just one source.

People come first

Which leads me to another observation I have about the business: it operates with a structure which is designed to give everybody a voice. As an Exec Team, we regularly discuss how the people in our business are feeling, where they are improving and what support they might need. It’s vitally important because, if you recognise your people are one of your biggest USPs, (which is something we touch on in the HR On the Offensive report released midway through last year) then you can start to map out how your people can help your business to grow and thrive.

Clear Values

What I find important in each company I have worked for is understanding whether the businesses values match my own. It’s important for me personally because if a business has values which I think reflect my own in life – both personal and professional – then I am more likely to ‘buy in’ to where the business is trying to get to. LACE Partners’ values are:

  • We’re passionate
  • We act with care
  • We are innovative.

I am a very passionate person. It’s one of the traits people often use to describe me but I can only be passionate at work when I truly believe in the aims of a business and believe that the business exhibits passion and pride in the work that it does. Having worked with all LACErs in some capacity in the last six months I would say this certainly resonates with me. But so too does ‘care’ as a value, again exhibited by what I’ve seen where other members of the team are willing to support each other, even if it means having to step out of their comfort zone or doing that little bit extra to help out ‘outside of the day job’. It also gives you the desire to do your bit to help out whenever you can.

And finally the ‘innovative’ value, which I have seen in abundance since I joined. It is a necessity if you think about our position in the market and our promise to deliver the best solutions for our clients. As HR tech and transformation specialists we have to be at the forefront of what is next on the digital landscape. The sharing of knowledge across our internal comms channels like Microsoft Teams and using tools like MethodGrid gives everybody the opportunity to learn from each other and develop our own innovative strategies to support our clients.

Want to join us?

If you want to find out more about LACE Partners and working as an Associate, or a LACEr, then get in touch with the team on +44 (0) 20 8065 0310, or email our Resourcing Manager Danielle Fitzsimmons-Elliott at