In the penultimate instalment of our Inspiring Women series, we caught up with Lenneke Keehan, Global Head of Talent at Ogury — an international mobile adtech firm. They’re changing the way we think about online ads in much the same that Lenneke is changing the way we think about gender, diversity and inclusion.
In this piece, which is an abridged version of our interview, she explores with verve and candour the current state of the gender gap, her flexible working life, and the ongoing barriers facing women. It was a fascinating conversation that you won’t want to miss.
Please could you give me a brief overview of your career so far?
I started out my career on the agency side looking at interim hiring, within Tech in Financial Services. Following on from this I moved to the exec search space, looking at leadership and board roles for fast-growing tech companies in the UK, US and across Europe.
After that, I moved entirely in-house, to a more strategic role at King, a global mobile games company (the makers of Candy Crush). Toward the end of my time there, I transitioned into a hybrid role, looking at senior leadership talent holistically including talent acquisition, succession planning and development.
More recently I moved to Ogury where I look after the global talent team — recruitment, succession, employee branding, and so on.
What are you juggling at the moment?
I’ve got two kids, two and three years old! During COVID, I moved to four days a week. It has offered a far better balance of working and being a mother to my boys.
It has been a challenging year, but thankfully the nursery has been open during the second lockdown. We have been able to see much more of them and I like to think I have an even closer relationship with them now than if COVID hadn’t happened.
In your experience, what are the challenges women face when it comes to promotions?
The gender split is nowhere near where it needs to be. The token woman at the leadership table is often HR or legal — you still don’t see them enough in other high-level positions unless they are the founder or part of the founding team. And if you look at the pipeline coming through for the roles women aren’t in, it is still predominantly male. People are getting more aware of this, but awareness is obviously not the same as action.
What more needs to be done? More inclusive recruitment?
Businesses need to be less linear when looking for suitable candidates. Leaders often think ‘we should hire the best person for the job’. Whilst that may be true, what if you have a mindset shift in terms of what ‘best’ looks like? It would lead to more inclusive hiring practices and a greater diversity of thought, which I have no doubt would lead to better decision making.
What actionable steps can be taken?
We need to see more success stories about the benefits of diversity and inclusion! Everyone knows about unconscious bias training, seminars, and so on. But they rarely have the desired impact. People need to be shown more narratives and data on, for example, revenue impact within their industry, to really hammer home the importance of these issues.
For example at Sky, they opened up certain technical roles to women within the company. These weren’t hardcore architecture or development roles — they were more on the support and technical account management side of things. And then Sky looked to their own women who were interested in a career shift, and trained them up for the transition. These kinds of practical examples are the ones we should all be looking to for inspiration.
What is the best piece of leadership advice you have ever received?
It was from my CPO when after I changed to a four day week: ‘sometimes you have to adjust what you think you need to do to achieve your ambitions.’
Society tells us that we need to work particular hours or act in certain ways to get to a desired position. If women felt they could still get to the top whilst still being a mother, doing a four day week and not burning the candle from both ends, then more people would go for it. My position hasn’t changed and neither has my workload. The only thing that’s shifted is people’s perceptions.
For more in this series, take a look at our piece featuring Anouk Agussol, CEO of ‘anti-consultancy’ Unleashed,