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Leading Professional People: Series 3

In this podcast, Professor Laura Empson and Tony Hall, Lord Hall of Birkenhead, explore the crucial leadership questions currently facing professional organizations and their leaders. They uncover the complicated, messy and surprisingly emotional challenges of leading professionals.

Laura and Tony interview senior leaders from some of the most successful global professional organizations, including EY, Slaughter & May, MI6, Spencer Stuart and the BBC.

And they build on their own insights from their lifetimes of researching, leading, and advising professional organizations.

Each episode reveals the complex realities that lie beneath the ‘professional’ veneer that these highly successful organizations, and their leaders, present to the outside world.

This podcast is for any professional who has, or aspires to have, a leadership role – who wants to explore new ideas, challenge assumptions, and develop solutions.

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S3: E6. David Bickford: Spies as professionals

What are the parallels between the worlds of espionage and professional services? Laura and Tony talk to David Bickford, previously General Counsel to MI5 and MI6, about his role as the agencies’ Legal Director and Under Secretary of State. They explore how to build trust when professionals are working remotely, how to collaborate when knowledge is shared on a need-to-know basis, and how to stop powerful professionals from going rogue.

S3: E5. Katherine White: Leading discretely

Laura and Tony speak to Katherine White , the first Chief Talent Officer of global executive search firm, Spencer Stuart . They explore the challenges of being a senior leader when you are not a fee-earner, and of leading the so-called talent when the fee-earners themselves do not see you as the talent. Katherine explains how she built trust and influence, and how she learnt to add value quickly while working slowly and discretely to bring about change.

S3: E4. Gianpiero Petriglieri: Coming out of the psychological closet

Gianpiero Petriglieri, Associate Professor at INSEAD is ranked as one of the top 50 management thinkers in the world. Laura and Tony talk to him about the difficult emotions that often stay hidden and supressed in organizations and individuals, and how leaders of professional organizations can become more effective when they engage more directly with these emotions.

S3: E3. June Sarpong: Leading as an outsider

Laura and Tony are joined by June Sarpong OBE, the BBC’s first Global Director of Creative Diversity. They explore how to bring about disruptive change, and significantly advance the diversity agenda, in a large, complex and high-profile professional organization, where decisions are typically taken slowly. June explains how she managed to do all this as an outsider with no previous leadership experience.

S3: E2. Chris Saul: Subtle power

Chris Saul is the former Senior Partner of the UK’s most prestigious law firm, Slaughter & May. Laura and Tony explore how leaders use subtle power to build consensus among partners in a professional organisation. They discover some of the secrets of how Slaughter & May has evolved successfully over more than a century, and managed to retain its powerful position at the heart of the UK’s economy.

S3: E1. Profiting from sustainability

Laura and Tony speak to Steve Varley, EY’s first Global Vice Chair for Sustainability. They find out how he was inspired by Greta Thunberg to try to build a bridge between environmentalism and capitalism, and the skills he used to make this happen. He explains how he created this role in EY to place sustainability at the heart of the firm’s business, and how he mobilised both colleagues and clients to build a significant sustainability practice.

S3: Welcome back

A preview of this third series of Leading Professional People, in which Professor Laura Empson will be joined by Tony Hall, Lord Hall of Birkenhead, the former Director General of the BBC.

Professor Laura Empson

Laura Empson is Professor in the Management of Professional Service Firms at Bayes Business School, University of London, and holds Research Fellowships at Harvard Law School and Cambridge University. She has been conducting academic research into professional organizations for 30 years and acts as an advisor to the leaders of many of the world’s leading professional organizations. Her most recent book is: Leading Professionals: Power, Politics, and Prima Donnas.

Tony Hall, Lord Hall of Birkenhead

Tony Hall, Lord Hall of Birkenhead, is a cross bench member of the House Of Lords. He was Director General of the BBC, President of the European Broadcasting Union, Chairman of the National Gallery, Chief Executive of the Royal Opera House, Deputy Chair of Channel 4, and Chair of the Cultural Olympics for London 2012. He now Chairs Frontline, a Charity that trains social workers, is Deputy Chair of the London Philharmonic Orchestra, and a trustee of the National Trust and the Paul Hamlyn Foundation.

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