Leader in the spotlight
We interview the newly-appointed Impact Head of Asia, Helen Hibbott.
CV in brief:
- Global Chief Talent Officer, RAPP (2009-2015)
- Adjunct Professor, Columbia University (2010-2011)
- Managing Directory, NY, RAPP (2006-2009)
You can connect with Helen on LinkedIn here.
A bit of background
Q: Tell us more about your career so far and what brought you to Impact?
Helen: In some ways I feel like my whole career has been leading me to this job! It doesn’t seem that way when you see that almost all my time has been spent in marketing agencies, but I was always on the front line with clients which gave me a foundation in good old-fashioned client service. Eventually I found myself running a big office in NYC (350 people at one point) which gave me plenty of humbling lessons in leadership, and those ultimately coalesced into a turning point for me. I realised I wanted to understand not only how to be a better leader myself, but to work with others on their journeys too. That’s when I made the move into the talent function. I had a fantastic few years traveling and helping out leaders in our company, and after a bit of time off last year, Impact found me.
Q: How would you describe your leadership style?
Helen: A work in progress!
In general I am very open and collaborative, working hard to make sure everyone is excited about where we are going and why. But as a high energy extrovert I do sometimes need to be told to pipe down. So feel free...
A day in your life
Q: What is the most rewarding part of your role?
Helen: Well it’s only week 7, so at the moment I am in voracious learning mode, traveling to all the offices and meeting all the great Impact people in the region. This is proving to be hugely rewarding in and of itself, as everywhere I go I am amazed what wonderful work is being done. It’s going to be fun working with them and watching our business flourish here.
Q: What skills are essential for the role you're in?
Helen: Zen-like ability to deal with travel delays… :(
Q: What has been the proudest moment of your career so far?
Helen: Running RAPP NY during a time of intense change and upheaval, we somehow managed to achieve the highest ever-recorded employee engagement scores. Must have been my Friday afternoon beer-cart…
Q: What advice would you give to your 21-year-old self?
Helen: Don’t worry so much and for goodness sake stop straightening your hair.
Q: What advice would you give to women in business who still face inequality in the workplace?
Helen: Take courage, we’re getting there. Be gentle in your explanations of what is unequal because all of us are still unlearning old patterns, and lastly recruit all the fabulous men you know to the cause!
Q: What are your go-to websites and apps?
Helen: To stay in touch with family and friends around the world I rely on WhatsApp and FaceTime, and if I’m honest I pretty much use them to communicate with my teenage kids too…Facebook helps the world feel small. In China I couldn’t live without WeChat, Taobao and my translation apps, not to mention the myriad VPNs I need to get round the Great Firewall of China.
Q: What's the last book you read that had a strong impact on you?
Helen: I love anything by Atul Gawande. All his books leave me inspired and humbled. He is a surgeon, writer and ultimate humanist, who strives to make the world better with his insights as well as his knife. His latest book ‘Being Mortal’ raises the big ugly questions about end of life choices and the value of surgical interventions in a gentle way, ultimately challenging the traditional role of medicine in our ultimate exit. It’s a cracking read I promise!
Anything else you'd like to tell us…?
Helen: One of the things I’m hoping to do is build more bridges between our Asia offices and the rest of the world, so if you fancy a spell over here, please get in touch.