ISE joint CEO Stephen Isherwood caught up with award-winning Laura Yeates to find out what drives her and the secrets behind her success.
Laura Yeates is a multi-award winning graduate recruiter, EDI campaigner and founder of the Sustainable Recruitment Alliance.
At the Targetjobs National Graduate Recruitment Awards 2023 Laura received a standing ovation when Rylan Clark presented her with the Special Recognition Award for all that she’s achieved within our sector.
SI: Laura, this award felt more personal than the others you and your colleagues have received. How did it feel to be called on stage in The Great Room at The Grosvenor?
LY: Humbling. Exhilarating. Aging. And gobsmackingly fantastic – who wouldn’t want a hug from the national treasure that’s Rylan?!?
I also felt like I was going to burst with pride. Not just for me, but for every person I’ve been lucky enough to work with over the last 18 years who’s worked tirelessly to achieve that shared vision of democratising access to the legal profession whilst hiring the most exceptional talent.
SI: Many of us ended up in this industry by happy accident, others by conscious choice. What caused you to switch from HR to build a career in graduate recruitment?
LY: Happy accident through the guidance and sponsorship of one very special lady, Angela Randall at JPMorgan.
Angela could sense that my skills and personality would lend themselves to a successful and fulfilling career in graduate recruitment and set up an opportunity for me to transition into a new team.
I believed in her and she believed in me. Everyone needs a team of cheerleaders and Angela was the first to enter my line-up.
SI: Many people saw the team you lead at Clifford Chance as an industry leader. What guides you to develop strategies, create programmes and deliver operationally?
LY: You can’t overstate the importance of creating a compelling vision based on purpose and shared values.
Individuals thrive when they understand the ‘why’ of what they do and when this aligns with their own values you get the magic. You need clarity, conviction, courage and most importantly an unrelenting focus on measuring impact with credible data.
SI: You’ve invested a lot of time in EDI throughout your career. What do you think are the biggest barriers that we’ve still got to break through to improve outcomes?
LY: Three words: data, data, and data. Collect it, analyse it, and use it to inform your decision-making. And don’t underestimate power of data to influence others, socialise it.
SI: The Sustainable Recruitment Alliance has focused our attention on the waste our industry creates. How should we change current practices?
LY: First thing would be to sign up as signatory if you’re not already. As a signatory you’ll commit to reviewing, reducing and reporting on how you are reducing your carbon footprint as part of early talent strategies.
Change starts with individual action, so every person working within the world of early talent has an important role to play.
SI: After over 16 years at Clifford Chance, you’ve recently moved to Latham & Watkins. What was behind the move and what does your new job involve?
LY: I made the decision to move out of the wonderful world of early talent into a new role focused on diversity and inclusion within the Global Citizenship team at Latham & Watkins late last year.
I’ve been really interested in social impact for the last decade and have found ways to build this into my professional life through a variety of trusteeships and advisory board roles. I also built D&I into a central pillar of the early talent strategy at Clifford Chance.
The opportunity to be part of the newly formed Global Citizenship team seemed like the perfect opportunity for me as I thought about the next chapter of my career.
In some ways it feels like the end of an era but I also know early talent runs through my blood, so I’ll always keep my toe in somehow.
SI: What is your advice to people just starting out in early careers?
LY: Firstly, always be curious. Say yes more than you say no. Embrace your mistakes as a way of growing professionally. And finally, build your network and your team of cheerleaders.
SI: Thanks Laura. Congratulations again on your award and I’m sure you are going to make a fantastic success of your new role.
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