Hayley Lawrence: Becoming MD

B&D’s new Managing Director, Hayley Lawrence, talks about her new role, the challenges ahead and making good on a promise she made herself as a teenager.

Brand & Deliver’s Director of Events and Board member, Hayley Lawrence, has been appointed as the company’s new Managing Director.  Now, a month into her new role, Lawrence talks about her experiences and the challenges she faces.

B&D: How did your appointment come about?

Hayley: The Board carried out an in-depth look at the business to see how we can move forward and make the most of our recent and large-scale growth. We decided from a structural point of view that we needed to split the CEO role. The CEO needs to focus on long term direction, the heads of our different disciplines need to focus on their areas, while someone else handled operations.

So, it was a decision that came off the back of a lot of analysis?

Exactly. Then our CEO, Ben Gallop, approached me and asked if I wanted the position.

What was your initial reaction?

Excitement! It’s a big task but it feels like the right time. I wanted to step up from being director of a department to taking on a something broader. It’s always been my goal to be an MD by 35… I’ll be 36 next month.

Just in the nick of time, then! Was being an MD always a target for you?

Yes. I set that goal when I was about 17. I wanted to go to university, move back to London, get a job in account management, work my way up, and become MD at 35. There’s three or four more steps as well. But I’m not telling you them yet!

And where did age 35 come from?

It was an ambition thing. Most people end up doing it in their 40s. I wanted to do it earlier.

Do you think people will place much stock in the fact you’re a 35-year-old female MD?

I think that conversation has already been had and it’s not something I give any thought to. It’s not rare anymore to see a woman in her 30s being MD of a company. We’ve got a great culture here. It doesn’t matter if you’re male or female, its whether you can do the job.

What are the biggest challenges you face?

Biggest challenges? I suppose doing as good a job as the person that used to do this job, who’s now the CEO.

Is leaving a mark on this role important to you?

Definitely. I’ve got to leave a legacy. I want to build onto the structure of the company so it runs even more smoothly; keeping our culture intact but being more systemised. Hopefully I’ll be a here until I’m a fossil – but if there was ever an MD after me I want to be the best and for the person after me to not feel like they need to change loads because it’s already, well, great.

There’s an appeal in that. What are your immediate goals to make that happen?

I have quite aggressive goals in the first quarter while getting to grips with the new responsibilities. Then I’ve got a very strong business plan for the coming years.

Is there anything that needs fixing?

There’s nothing to fix. My focus has been more on what I can do to make it even better. However, we’ve experienced aggressive growth so that will inevitable mean some things will need to adapt.

Finally, has there been any pleasant surprises so far?

I was overwhelmed by the response I received about my promotion.

What was overwhelming? People are generally quick to congratulate people on things like this.

Of course you expect congratulations, but it was more than that. People wrote personal emails to me, sent flowers to the office. I suppose I underestimated the enormity of the promotion to people outside the company. It’s a nice little boost of confidence.