founder of naked leader

Stay true to yourself to reap the rewards

Stay true to yourself to reap the rewards

Time to Read: 2 minutes 30 seconds

Stay true to yourself to reap the rewards

How to lead a major organisation while still being yourself.

If you are not being yourself you can’t lead. I don’t see any disconnect between who you are as an individual, at home, with your kids and partner if you are lucky enough to have a family, and who you are as a leader. That is why honesty is so important, and why I believe in diverse management teams who are encouraged to promote truth in the room.

Diversity is not important only because of external pressure or even moral grounds, it is really a route to success. It is about attracting the best talent from the biggest pool rather than gender, ethnicity, religion, sexuality, age or disability. Then it is about leveraging precisely from this diversity to derive innovation and new ways of doing things.

At Veolia, we have made great progress in this respect, but there is still a lot more to do, and I am committed to delivering an even more inclusive Veolia, because by doing so we can be even better at what we do.

Our recent gender pay gap report is a sign that as a company we are heading in the right direction. There is always work to be done and it is my commitment to ensure that we continue to improve our diversity and inclusivity to ensure a successful and sustainable future for our people.

I am absolutely convinced that values are extraordinarily important in an organisation, and key to success, and it is simple way for me to be true to myself. Naked Leader has played a part in this and contributed greatly to help us embed the “truth in the room” value within our leadership team, then to a network of “change leaders”.

Some people ask me how I graduated as an engineer and then ended up leading Veolia in the UK, responsible for 15,000 employees and a turnover of £2bn. My key answer would be: instead of complaining about the world not being as it should be, why not try and contribute to change your immediate environment?

Aspects of my personality have helped me along the way. I am curious, I love to discover new things. I say to myself ‘why not?’ not ‘why?’ I have taken opportunities as they have presented themselves and I am very determined. I never quit.

It’s not typical for a woman to be an engineer, or to be a CEO, or to head up a utility company that operates in the waste, water and energy sectors. But I have done this by being myself. I believe that if you try and be ‘typical’ and not be yourself you will serve to create a disconnect.

I love my job because I can play a role in being part of the solution of some significant problems our planet faces, from global warming to scarcity of natural resources. We are at a tipping point and I am excited about the future and what companies like Veolia can do to help us use resources better. The planet simply does not have enough, we must change the way we think about waste, turn it into resource and make the world more circular.

I have known Naked Leader since I started my journey here in the UK. David [Taylor, founder] was involved in establishing a network of change leaders in the organisation as we brought the business together from three broadly separate entities and launched a new vision. As a business we have not looked back.
So you can see, we have been through a lot of change in recent times. But change is good; it should not be feared. If we don’t embrace change we stand still which is as good as going backwards.

Change needs to be purpose led. It needs to be intrinsically linked to the reason a company exits and it needs to be long term, which for Veolia is captured in our vision: “Resourcing the World”.

Any change needs to be believed though and authenticity comes from the top. So you have to stick to your principles, link your values with your objectives and take your people with you on your journey – because change needs to be sustainable.

Thank you Estelle. If you have any recommendations or suggestions for future Leader Features please email Next month Clive is speaking to John Leeman, Operations Director of Trust Ford.

With my love and best wishes to you all



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