Top job: Carolyn Lee

What is your new role?

Diversity manager at law firm Herbert Smith.

Where were you working before and what were your duties?

My last role at Deutsche Bank was in the diversity team, where I focused primarily on employee networks, student diversity initiatives and work-life balance.

What qualifications do you hold?

BA (Hons) and MA degrees, both in English literature.

What are the duties in your new role?

I’m responsible for the development and implementation of the diversity strategy at Herbert Smith, in conjunction with the firm’s Inclusivity Group. It’s a standalone role, and I report to the head of HR.

What do you hope to achieve in your new role?

To make diversity real within Herbert Smith, so that it’s genuinely part of the way the organisation works and thinks.

What are the challenges HR faces in the nextfive years?

Recruiting and retaining a diverse workforce.

What advice would you give to people starting out in HR?

Seize every opportunity you have to learn something new.

What is the essential tool in your job?

Listening and communication skills.

And the most overrated?


What is the strangest situation you have been in at work?

After I graduated, my first job was teaching degree students on a remote Indian reserve in the Canadian Arctic. As the textbooks for my English literature course didn’t arrive, I had to find alternative teaching material and work out a way to deliver it.

Who is your ultimate guru?

There are a number of people from whom I seek advice, but there’s no one person I’d nominate as my ‘ultimate guru’.

What are the most annoying pieces of management jargon?

‘Let’s touch base offline’, ‘think outside the box’, ‘blue-sky thinking’ – the list is endless.

What is your essential TV viewing?

Prison Break.

Who would you most dislike to work with?

Someone who speaks without thinking.

How do you fill your spare time?

Circus skills – trapeze, corde lisse (acrobatics on a vertical rope) and hoola-hooping.

What is the greatest risk you have ever taken?

Quitting my fully funded PhD programme to take a job teaching on an Indian Reserve in the Canadian Arctic.

What song gets you on the dance floor?

What a Feeling – the theme tune from the movie Flashdance – by Irene Cara.

What would be your dream job?

An aerialist with Cirque du Soleil.

Who would play you in the film of your lifeand why?

Jodie Foster (pictured), because she plays strong women characters and does her own stunts (necessary for the circus skills).

Who would you least like to be stuck in a lift with?

Any politician – we’d be bound to fall out very quickly.


July 2005-April 2006 Created Hulahoopla, which makes performance hoops for circus and street art performers

January 2001-June 2005 Project manager and diversity team member, Deutsche Bank

September 1998-December 2000 Project manager, Capita Group

September 1997- May 1998 University lecturer, Kayas Cultural College, Canada


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