We are delighted to welcome Sophie Edmond as a Principal Consultant in our Leadership and Talent consultancy within Housing.
Prior to joining GatenbySanderson, Sophie worked across a variety of sectors that have given her a wide range of expertise in supporting behaviour change. Sophie has worked in a number of in-house learning and development roles that include leadership and management development, coaching and facilitation and has worked as a consultant for a number of years.
What brought you to GS?
I’m in the third decade of my career and, as I approach the fourth decade of my working life, I felt I wanted to give something back. Having the opportunity to work with public service organisations was a good way of doing that.
I like the sectors that GatenbySanderson works within and also its ethos. The stated values of Curiosity, Courage and Collaboration are important to me, as well as thinking about how they are put into practice.
What areas are new to you at GS?
I have worked with some public sector organisations, including the Home Office, local governments, higher education sector organisations and a Housing Association. The social Housing sector as a whole is quite new to me and will be a learning journey. However, the people challenges are similar across all organisations and sectors. For example, the skills leaders need, including understanding how to get people on the journey with you, are similar regardless of sector and I’m looking forward to using the years of experience I bring to that space.
What are your particular interests within the housing sector?
There are some challenges but, what I’m hearing and what I’ve noticed myself, is that the people within the social housing sector are really dedicated and exceptionally resilient in terms of facing those challenges.
Having faced various major challenges both personally and also in my career, the importance of resilience really resonates with me. When I was 30, my first husband was killed in an accident and, with a two year old daughter to look after, I was propelled into having to face some major life questions and decisions. I realised that I wanted to make a difference which led me to change my career into people development, which evolved into leadership and talent development including coaching. But I needed that element of resilience to keep going.
I think there’s different kinds of resilience. Leaders need soft resilience; not the hard-nosed “yes it’s tough but you’ve got to get on with it” approach. Soft resilience is acknowledging your own anxieties and challenges, and not being afraid to show some vulnerability. It’s empathising and demonstrating that we’re in this together and we all have bad days and good days.
What do you think are the priorities for housing leaders today?
There’s a lot of uncertainty in terms of finances and where the money is coming from. With the general election looming, I think there’s going to be more change. Leaders need the skills to navigate that change journey.
What I noticed in the pandemic was that the leaders who were the most successful were the ones who could take people on that journey by being empathetic, by being compassionate with their teams, but who also were not afraid to be bold.
Resilience, as I said, is so important. There are times for all of us when we want to give up. It can feel too much like hard work. Leaders can be supported to find strategies that help them work through the barriers.
As part of the Leadership & Talent team, I am looking forward to working with current and aspiring leaders to support them in lots of different ways. These include leadership development, culture change including creating values, behavioural competency frameworks, assessments and coaching.
If a leader is coming into a challenging environment there may be mistrust, or a perceived lack of communication and engagement, then they are going to have to deal with all of that. We can work with the leaders and the leadership teams to understand what they want to achieve in their first 90 days and co-create a plan to help them achieve their onboarding goals.
How have your first two months at GS been?
I am so happy that I am already being utilised for my knowledge, my skills and my experience. I’ve still got a lot to learn about how we work, how we support our clients, but everybody has been very welcoming. Everybody has been very helpful; both respectful and collaborative. It’s a very professional and grown-up feeling organisation.
What else are you passionate about?
Although I have been coaching for 20 years, I’m now undertaking an accreditation to become an International Coaching Federation (ICF) accredited coach. I am very passionate about making a difference through coaching and mentoring people to be the best that they can be at work, and in different aspects of life outside of work.
I am involved in the Polish Scouting Association in the UK as a volunteer. I am the safeguarding lead and also the HR Director on the Board. I was born in the UK but brought up in a Polish speaking household so my weekends growing up were taken up with Polish school, Polish scouts, Polish choir, Polish church, Polish dancing… everything Polish.
I live in rural Suffolk and I am mum to an adult daughter, two teenaged boys, a very needy 12 year old fox red labrador called Dexter and two elderly cats.