Never just a number, always supported and cared for – working as an Associate at LACE Partners

Today’s Life @ LACE Partners blog is from one of our Associates, Abi East, who has worked with the team on a number of exciting projects. We wanted to get some insight into how she found out about LACE Partners, what she enjoys about being an Associate in general, as well as any advice she would give to businesses.  

If you would like to speak to us about opportunities working as an Associate at LACE Partners, you can reach out to our Resourcing Manager, Danielle Fitzsimmons-Elliott, for a quick chat. 

A career in HR 

I have spent all of my 25+ year career in HR and change roles across a variety of sectors. After my Psychology degree, I joined the graduate HR scheme with - and worked for - one of the “Big Four” management consultancies for 10 years (where I first met Aaron and Cathy). After that, I became the UK HR Director for another global consultancy for four years. For the last 13 years I have been an independent consultant, undertaking a wide variety of projects and a couple of interim roles: UK HR Director and European Head of Talent Management - both for a global professional services company.  

In terms of my career and getting to know LACE, I have watched the team develop and grow from afar and first met with Aaron to discuss the possibility of working as an Associate about four years ago. We kept in touch (I even met Cathy at a school ball in late 2019!) and shortly after that time decided it would be good to work together, so I joined in May 2020. What appeals most to me about LACE is the vibe and the culture – I think what Aaron and Cathy have created is something special and (in my experience, having worked through many consultancies over the last 13 years) completely unique. Being a LACEr means I feel part of a team of great people which is so important for me and that’s why I so enjoy working with LACE. 

Being an Associate 

I love the variety and flexibility that being an Associate brings. I have been able to take on such a variety of different projects in terms of their duration (everything from two days to 16 months), focus (start up, transformation, restructuring, revamping) and expertise required (everything from writing new policies and processes, to pan-European restructures, designing and running training to HR audits). I have also been able to balance rewarding work with being around for my two daughters, who are now 14 and 11.   

Are there any downsides though? One aspect I have missed, being an independent, is having a team. I love working with, coaching and developing other people. Some roles have brought that opportunity, but not as many as I’d like.  

Being an Associate at LACE has been totally different from all the other businesses I’ve worked in – both as an employee and as an Associate. It’s personal, supportive and caring. You don’t feel like a number or a resource, you feel like part of the family and that LACErs have your back. There is no “us and them” – employees and Associates are treated the same – both are valued and respected parts of the same team. The culture is positive, open and genuine. We work hard but we have a lot of fun as well and that is so good for morale and wellbeing. People challenge one another constructively, are enthusiastic and supportive and always strive to do the right thing for our clients.   

What is your favorite LACE project you’ve worked on and why? 

I’ve been lucky enough to have three projects during my first eight months with LACE. I have been part of a very intense three-week project to conduct a mid-transformation review for a client; I’ve worked on the planning phase of a large organisational change programme, and I’ve developed a manager capability framework for a client. I’ve enjoyed all of these projects equally and a large part of that is down to the LACErs I have worked with and the relationships we forge with our clients as well as the value we add for our clients. 

If you could give one piece of advice to all businesses what would it be?

I am passionate about mental health awareness. The global pandemic has been incredibly tough on so many levels, but I believe it’s taught us all many valuable lessons for post-pandemic life – both in and out of work. My advice to businesses would be to reflect on and learn from this experience. I think that organisations will benefit in the future from trusting and giving their employees greater freedom in how and where they perform their roles; from allowing their people to better balance work, life and domestic commitments; from building in screen-free time and time to exercise or relax during the working day. I also believe that the pandemic has made great strides in opening up conversations about mental health – so many have found the many lockdowns and isolation periods hard, and I think we’ve all learned that it’s okay to admit that, reach out to others, seek and accept support.