We call ourselves ‘Team Green’ at Leading Edge, and if you’re part of our community on LinkedIn or Twitter, you’ll have seen green hearts accompanying many of our posts. Our brand looks so very green that we really can’t go by any other name!
But it isn’t just a name. It represents a close team of people and an even closer community.
Victoria Freer-Hewish looks after client experience at Leading Edge and this month, she celebrates her first year as Head of Client Experience. For the 9 years prior to that, she was one of our Team Coaches, which makes her our longest serving team member besides Patrick! We had a virtual catch-up to chat through some of her highlights.
Let’s start with three words that mean ‘Leading Edge’ to you?
I love it!
(Three small words that definitely set the tone for our chat!)
What is your Head of Client Experience role all about and has it been anything like you expected?
I’d say that the expectations of the role have been spot on, but the delivery has obviously been very different. I thought I’d be on the road, networking, building even stronger relationships with our amazing clients and supporting our Team Coaches with their great work. Obviously 2020 had other plans for me, and everyone else! That’s what I love: being in front of people.
I’ve still been able to focus on the three main areas of my role… but it’s mainly been through a laptop screen or over the phone.
With our Team Coaches, I’ve looked at building on their fantastic work and strengthening the community. Because I’ve been a Team Coach, I know how important this is – we can learn from each other to benefit each other and our clients.
I also wear an operational hat. This is a new area of the business for me but one that I’ve been quickly immersed into over the past year.
And the client experience aspect of my role is about truly nurturing relationships to create a partnership that’s smooth, easy and enjoyable, one where we all understand the rhythm and necessary impact from the activities we’re undertaking.
So although my first year has looked massively different from what I expected, when I break it down, I’ve definitely been able to progress on my own journey.
Can you describe ‘client experience’ for someone who doesn’t know Leading Edge?
Yes! We do some awesome work in great businesses. So, for me, client experience is about replicating the best of what we do for all our clients across all areas of their business to maximise impact.
I work with Sarah Kelleher, our Client Experience Lead, on this to make sure that client journeys with Leading Edge are based on what clients need to enable them to flourish. We want our footprint to be so positive and strong that clients think of us (and are confident in what we stand for) when they’re looking for support in the future.
Client experience doesn’t stop when we’re not actively supporting a leadership, team or change programme. We’re focused on keeping the relationships alive. To us, that means anyone who’s got ‘skin in the game’ – a stakeholder, a Team Coach – should feel part of our community, learning and sharing with us as we all navigate the changing business and people context. It’s about great relationships that turn into great partnerships.
Do you feel that you’ve been able to support these partnerships and stay close in these difficult months?
Thankfully, yes I do. It’s mostly been through informal coffee and catch-ups on Teams or Zoom, but that’s worked well. I love the fact that it’s never been about ‘having a meeting for an update’ – the focus has always been on sharing insights, sense-checking and genuinely catching up to offer support (either to the individual on a personal or business level)
Back in April, I was able to lend a hand to some clients and offer facilitated sessions to help their HR departments navigate the challenging aspects of such a major landscape shift. Supporting them by providing this opportunity to press pause when everything was so fast-paced was truly appreciated and I felt privileged to be part of enabling that.
Our clients cross both sport and business, but one sector so dramatically hit this year is travel and tourism. We have wonderful clients at Carnival Cruises and TUI and I am so proud to have initiated regular sessions with a key stakeholder from both organisations. They’ve told me how the sessions have had a real impact throughout the period, protecting time to step back and reflect with another leader who is facing very similar challenges.
What I absolutely love is that it’s the clients who keep suggesting we put the next date in the diary! Everyone is usually too busy for sessions like these, but they’re massively impactful and to be able to facilitate these and support great partners through their difficult times has been very special.
So, it’s 10 years next year with Leading Edge! Can you share some Team Green stories?
I’m pretty sure I was the longest-standing Leading Edge Team Coach before I moved into my new role… so if anyone has some great stories to share of life in Team Green, I should!
For me, two things stand out so strongly about Leading Edge: our Team Green/Team Coach community and our awesome clients.
Leading Edge has such a positive culture around client impact and how the whole journey from discovery through design to delivery is part of that. It’s not always that way with Learning and Development consultancies, in my experience. So being a self-employed Team Coach and knowing I was encouraged to build relationships and get close to clients was a dream set-up.
From day one, I’ve had the privilege to work with powerful brands and amazing people. When you’re named as one of the Team Coaches to support England Rugby and find yourself delivering a programme from a training room that looks out over the stadium, it’s definitely a ‘pinch me’ moment. I love working with Jaguar Land Rover, too. Their teams are always so committed to improvement and I’ve built wonderful relationships there over the years.
I can’t just pick out one or two Team Coach stories because I’ve worked with too many great people that I’m nervous I’ll miss someone out. But what I do know is that when you spend a lot of time away from home, you need to be able to be a lone wolf who can then quickly collaborate and gel with someone you’re teaming up with while supporting a client. Leading Edge Team Coaches have always made that so easy.
Team Green, along with our amazing clients, have all played their part in making my 10 years at Leading Edge so special – and these past eight months have only strengthened my belief that great partnerships start with great relationships.
I look forward to making many more.
Victoria in conversation with Jenny Gibson, from Leading Edge