An Interview with Emma King the Head of People and Culture at Envoy.
Bulldog Drummond: What have been the major milestones in your career?
Emma King: Moving to California was both a career milestone as well as a personal one: Living and working in California had seemed like an unattainable dream, so I’m proud of eventually taking the risk of trying it out. I think proving to myself that I could survive something that I didn’t think possible changed my outlook on the way I work as well. After realizing that good things generally come out of risk-taking, it’s been easier to take on professional and personal challenges.
BD: After so many years in the industry, how do you stay passionate about what you do?
EK: By reconnecting with what engaged me in People and Culture practice in the first place, which was having the opportunity to make people’s working lives better, even in a small way. People are the most important and valuable part of a company.
Day in, day out, I juggle a whole range of spinning plates, continually trying to make sure one doesn’t drop. While at the same time, doing my best to support our company’s biggest asset – our people.
Also, by consistently learning and networking to keep my skill set polished and updated. I accomplish this by reading, listening to relevant podcasts, TED talks, attending conferences and learning new skills.
BD: What inspires you?
EK: My biggest source of inspiration are my two children who make me want to be a better person. They inspire me to set an example and be the best person I can be – not perfect – just a human striving every day to be my best, to be honest, and kind, to be unselfish and giving. A mom they can be proud of!
BD: What advice did you receive early in your career that has stayed with you?
EK: Be open to opportunities! Always take on new challenges—even if you are unsure you are entirely ready.
BD: Can you tell me about a female role model who has inspired you over your career?
EK: Ruth Bader Ginsburg. “Ruth Bader Ginsburg, all day, every day. She chose a difficult path into the women’s movement, fighting out issues like equal pay in the (often-male-dominated) courts. In the process, she laid the legal framework for women’s rights. Every one of us who wants to be treated equally by our employers and our government officials owes so much to her.” – Vogue Magazine
BD: What three skills do you think are essential to be a great leader?
EK: Empathy. You need to have the ability to relate to your employees and be able to put yourself in the soul of your people. Without the empathetic trait, it’s tough to rally your team around your vision.
Integrity. Integrity matters in three ways: leaders with great integrity foster critical trust amongst colleagues and direct reports and demonstrate a commitment to moral and ethical behaviors.
Humility. A great leader has to be able to say, I’m sorry. If you want your organization to be continually innovating and improving, your team members must be reflective and self-aware. You need them to know when they’ve made mistakes and correct them so they can get better. This is only a realistic expectation if the leader of the organization is willing to do the same thing. A good leader will say, I made a mistake, I’m sorry, and here’s what I’m doing to get better. If the leader can do this, it will set the right tone for the rest of the organization.
BD: Based on your own experience, what advice would you give to women considering pursuing a career as a Head of People and Culture
EK: Find a way to say yes! Specifically, because you are in People and Culture. People and Culture tend to be seen as a group that says, “No you can’t do that.” P&C professionals can be problem solvers by understanding the needs of the business and looking for new ways to resolve issues.
Recognize the value of people: Great leaders understand that the most valuable resource in their organization are people. They invest in people and help them develop their own leadership capacity — scaling it throughout the organization.
BD: If you could give any advice to a young woman in your industry what would it be?
EK: To do your job well, be curious about the entire business, not just People and Culture. Listen, ask questions, attend meetings and keep learning. Talk to people in other departments about what they do every day, what challenges they face, and work on piecing together the big picture and the company’s place in it.