Deb Lee on her career in Human Resources and Telecommunications interviews Deb Lee, HR Director, Consumer & Enterprises at BT.

What has been your biggest challenge?

Being dropped in the deep end to deliver a programme to implement a new contract of outsourced services, new global processes and a single HR system across 34 countries in 12months. The financial penalties and operational impacts were huge and I had no personal knowledge of systems implementation, supplier management or non-UK employment law.

What are the rewarding aspects of a career in your industry?

Communication is vital to our world, it’s a core component to human existence and the technological advances are incredibly fast-paced. The speed at which our industry moves and the convergence of products, markets and global connectivity and fundamental nature of what we deliver to customers, in my view, makes this one of the most dynamic and meaningful industries you can work in.

What do you do to ensure you get a break at the weekends?

Spend time with my 3yr old daughter. Playing with her can be exhausting but is the most refreshing and invigorating part of my week.

What's the best career advice you've ever received?

“Wake up. Keeping your head down and doing a great job is not enough to get ahead. People need to know what you’ve done, how and why to understand the value you bring” Of course, its important to do this in a way that isn’t vulgar and always sharing/giving credit to those who have helped you win is a key aspect to long term success.

What have you had to sacrifice/risk to get to the position you have?

I don’t feel that I have had to make any sacrifices and believe I “have it all”. I feel very lucky to have an incredibly supportive husband.

What did you want to be when you were growing up?

I always wanted to work in business for a large firm.

What differences do you believe being a woman has made to your career?

Being female has made no difference to my career.

Finally, what advice would you give to aspiring graduate women who are pursuing a successful career?

Be the best you can be. Share success with others. Don’t waste time or energy worrying about what other people are doing/thinking/saying. Look forward to the opportunities, don’t dwell on the past. Life is too short to waste in a job you don’t enjoy. Happy, confident people attract success.

What has been the most exciting element of your career so far?

This is a hard question as I find pretty much most days are exciting. The opportunity travel, visit new countries, understand the cultural differences, study abroad and meet some of the world’s greatest HR thinkers has been some of the highlights.

What is your greatest achievement?

Retaining real balance between my home and business life has been the biggest achievement, I have genuine quality time at home and a great career.

Who is, or has been, your role model and who is a strong role model for young women starting their career?

I grew up with Margaret Thatcher as Prime Minister which gave me a strong view that there were no limits to your ability to succeed. My mother runs her own very successful Fashion Business which she started from our spare room when I was growing up, but I have always noticed and admired women in prominent positions and taken a keen interest in their personal stories be it Condeelezza Rice, Tamara Mellon, Anita Roddick, Anna Wintour, Debbie Moore they are very different people but are all talented, passionate, hard working women who have broken the mould in some way.

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