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Women in Technology series: Amy Lawson


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This profile is with Amy Lawson, EVP Corporate Affairs.  You can watch her video, or read the transcript of Amy’s interview below. In the video, Amy makes reference to her role at the time, EVP Communications.

 

Brittany Benson: Thank you for joining and sharing a few minutes of your day with me, Amy! Could you share a little bit of detail about your role at Sage?

Amy Lawson: I'm the EVP of Communications. What that means at Sage is looking after all of our internal and external communications across PR, public affairs, analyst relations, internal communications, and then also running a core, strategic events team, who run events for customers, partners, and outside colleagues, as well.

Don't tell anyone else, but I do have the best job at Sage. I get to work with a team focused on how to influence behaviour and inspire preference in all of the audiences that we need to engage with, so that we progress what Sage is trying to do for its customers. That could be an audience ranging from a current colleague, or a brilliant, talented person that we want to come and work at Sage, a customer who we want to choose Sage, or a partner who we want to work with. There's a diverse mix of audiences that we're trying to reach with our programmes, and that excites me.

We're also Sage's voice in the world, in a lot of ways. We're helping to write the stories; to craft the messages that influence the behaviour I was talking about. Sometimes we see that has real, meaningful impact for customers. For example, lobbying governments to create a more supportive policy environment for small businesses. Encouraging them to incentivise small businesses to adopt technology that we know makes their businesses more productive, efficient, and effective. It feels like a massive honour, I think, for this team that we get to influence that agenda, play that role for our customers, and be that voice.

Brittany Benson: We have the opportunity and privilege to craft these messages and share them with the world. When you wake up in the morning, how do you hope to have an impact in your role?

Amy Lawson: At the moment, how I hope to have impact is to keep the team all moving in the right direction and making sure they're all doing okay, because this is a tough way of working, all being virtual. If you a good comms and events team, you can become a victim of your own success – You'll get asked to support a lot of business priorities; That's absolutely our role. But I think it's also important that we have the ability to take a step back and ensure that we are loading up our resources, our time, our investments, and the high-end strategic priorities that really support the business and drive the strategy forward.

When I wake up in the morning, there's always noise, things to do, and emails to get to. But I try to get to the things that are going to push us forward and ensure we do the best job for all of those audiences I mentioned, from customers, partners, and colleagues.

Brittany Benson: You have a lot of colleagues that look to you for leadership, guidance, and inspiration in supporting the business. Is there a woman who has inspired you?

Amy Lawson: Aside from Beyonce who inspires everybody, I've been fortunate to work with loads of brilliant and supportive women in my career who have given me chances, provided opportunities, and championed me. I've been really supported in that department. I worked previously for Channel 4 News, which is a national news programme in the UK. The head of News and Current Affairs at Channel 4 was a lady called Dorothy. She was a true trailblazer in every sense of the word; often one of the only female news executives in the room. Dorothy was an absolute masterclass in holding your ground, being really clear on your point of view – even when being challenged – and conducting yourself with style and grace. And she's a complete troublemaker in all the best ways. I really was inspired by her.

I worked in government also, and I was fortunate to work with a lot of incredible senior civil servants. The civil service is doing a great job of getting more women in leadership positions.

At Sage, every day I'm fortunate. We have a brilliant, female CMO Cath Keers. Additionally, we have some really inspiring women in leadership positions, like Monica Arora, our EVP of Commercial Finance, and Nancy Harris, Sage’s EVP and Managing Director of North America. I'm incredibly proud that we work for a business where we have these fantastic female role models.

Brittany Benson: I couldn't agree more. You’ve had so much experience in a wide array of different roles under various people, could you touch a little bit on some obstacles or challenges that you experienced and then how you overcame them?

Amy Lawson: think that a lot of the women that I work with are really hard on themselves in terms of that famous imposter syndrome or holding yourself to standards that are far higher than you hold your teammates or your colleagues. One of the biggest challenges I've had is understanding what fair criticism is of yourself. What are reasonable high standards to aspire to? And what is just the unhelpful voice in your own head? I think I've had to work on that throughout my career.

Particularly when I became a mum, I had to work to silence those voices, as well as the work critique you give yourself. You start to give yourself a mum critique, as well. I think you have to be rigorous about telling those voices to quiet down a lot of the time. Because just by nature of the high standards you're holding yourself to, you're probably doing okay.

Brittany Benson: Because you are in a leadership role and a lot of people look up to you for both personal and professional advice, could you share a little bit about some of the key traits that you think you possess or that other people should possess to be a leader?

Amy Lawson: At the end of the day, we're all just humans. Many of the truths of being human: what motivates us, excites us, what we're scared of – that’s irrespective of who we may appear to be on the outside. I hope that as a leader, I’m quite good at reading those human signs of how people are feeling. I hope that makes me approachable as a leader. I try to cultivate an environment where anybody can talk to me about what's going on in their home life, if they need some support at work, or how they're feeling. I think that being a good leader means being a good interpreter, listener, and empathiser.

Brittany Benson: You talked a lot about being very people focused, and that's very on brand for Sage. We're so focused on the people – and that isn't just our colleagues internally – but also our partners and our customers as well. What are some ways that you work to ensure that your team always has a very customer centric framework in mind?

Amy Lawson: That people piece is so important. With my team, one of the things that we strive for is customer insight. That's how we try and stay customer centric. Do we know enough? It's not enough in our customer base to understand the type of business. You have to understand who is the decision-maker, who is the person using the technology at the end? There's always a person. It's never just a user number or limited to a company name. I think if we have a good understanding of our customers, the communications, messages, and stories that we tell will be so much more impactful if we understand the human at the end.

Brittany Benson:That’s so important! To end on a personal note, can you share some off-work passions or hobbies that you enjoy when you want to relax?

Amy Lawson: I love spending time with my friends and my family. I also have a really embarrassing hobby, which is that I'm teaching myself to DJ! My daughter is six, so she's not old enough to realise how deeply uncool I am. She's my biggest groupie at the moment! It’s been fun!

Brittany Benson: I love it; That's a very unique hobby. I have not heard that yet! Amy, it's been a pleasure. Thank you so much for sharing deep and very personal human insight and advice with the readers.

 

Read the other colleague profiles who are part of Sage’s Women in Technology interview series.

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