I recently had the opportunity to meet and have dinner with Leigh Lafever-Ayer, the Enterprise HR Director for UK & Ireland. This was especially exciting for me as HR is the department I would like to go into in the near future. I was even more excited to discover that Leigh is one of the most inspirational, down-to-earth and amusing women I’ve met during my time at Enterprise.
The reason I was going out to dinner with Leigh was to talk to her about her Enterprise career and to get some insight into her successes, as well as the struggles she has faced during her time with the company.
Leigh has been at Enterprise for 25 years, the last 10 of which she has spent in the UK. The decision to move here was not an easy one. She discussed it with her husband and other family members, some of whom were more supportive than others. But Leigh decided she had put her life on hold for long enough and that the time was right to pursue her career. Listening to Leigh made me realise that all women, regardless of their background, will probably have to go through a similar struggle at some point.
Given how well Leigh has done at Enterprise, I was obviously very keen to learn a few of her career secrets. It can sometimes be very difficult to stand out in a huge organisation like Enterprise. So why does she think she has been such a success?
For Leigh, the most important thing is to have a mentor. She has had several throughout her career and recommends reaching out to appropriate people, even if they’re not from the area you’re currently working in.
Another thing Leigh talked about in great detail was personal branding. This was not something I had thought about too much before. Leigh made me realise that, although it’s great to have good numbers, good numbers alone will not help you progress. You need to work hard to make a name for yourself in the business, whether that means volunteering for a company-wide project or, for example, becoming part of the diversity team.
Personal branding is especially important for women. As Leigh explained, we sometimes shy away from talking about all the good things we’ve done as we don’t want to come across as boastful. But it’s vital that we speak up about our successes, as this is what will help us be recognised by others and move forward in our careers.
Leigh also stressed the importance of keeping your eye on the end goal. There were times in her own career, she told me, when she thought about giving everything up. What kept her going was her ability to see the bigger picture and keep focusing on what she wanted to achieve and by when.
I learnt so much during our dinner together. But this last point was perhaps the most important of all. Everyone in the world has struggles they have to go through. The key thing is to never give up, to continue chasing your dreams, and to make use of those around you who can help you.
At Enterprise, we offer people lots of opportunities for a challenging, rewarding and enjoyable career. Why not check out our graduate management trainee programme to see what we have for you.