PSC Leadership: Leadership Is A Journey

Saturday 25 March 2017


This is a review piece for the lecture, PSC Leadership: Leadership is a Journey, given by Lindsey Paterson, a partner at PwC (PricewaterhouseCoopers). PwC is the second largest multi-national professional service network in the world, headquartered in London.

Lindsey Paterson is a politics graduate from the University of Edinburgh, then a qualified chartered accountant, and has worked for PwC for nearly 23-years. She specialises in the delivery of risk assurance services to the public sector and has particular focus upon the higher education sector. Lindsey started the lecture by sharing a little bit about her personal biography. Having advanced from state-school, to a Politics degree at the University of Edinburgh then becoming a chartered accountant, Lindsey has faced numerous challenges in the process to achieving her success today.

Lindsey failed her first chartered exam for accountancy, but attempted a second try and passed. For two years (1992-1994), she was temping and working in local government, but hoped for a more challenging job. In 1994, she applied to PwC which was a perfect fit for her as the position involved the integration of both her interests: politics and accountancy. It started with a small team of four, and grew to approximately 40-people. She was promoted to a Director position in 2003 and had her son, Rory, in 2005. Lindsey spoke about the challenges of balancing life and work, and dealing with unexpected issues. 2013 marked the start of the process to her promotion to partnership, and Lindsey explained how feedback helped her develop during this time. 1 July 2016 marked Lindsey’s first day as a partner at PwC.

Lindsey recommended a book which she holds dear: “Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead (2013)”, by Sheryl Sandberg. She placed particular emphasis on the following quote:

“Presenting leadership as a list of carefully defined qualities (like strategic, analytical, and performance-oriented) no longer holds. Instead, true leadership stems from individuality that is honestly and sometimes imperfectly expressed…. Leaders should strive for authenticity over perfection”

(Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead, 2013)

The lecture concluded with a few important take-away messages:

  1. No two leadership journeys are the same
  2. Take conscious decisions
  3. Be open to opportunities as they come
  4. What’s right for you can change over time
  5. Be the best you can be and don’t underplay your achievements
  6. Set backs make you stronger and help you to learn
  7. Don’t be a sole trader (Sharing your problems can help!)
  8. Take personal responsibility

Lindsey concluded the session by taking questions from the audience, including one about the importance of confidence. She said “looking back, I am quite a shy person and had never thought I would be standing in front of an audience talking about my leadership journey. But, my confidence grows either by pushing myself or because I just have to do it as a part of my job. So, confidence will grow but sometimes certain things can knock it down and the important bit is, don’t try solo. If something affects you, speak to someone. Get confidence from people around you and never forget how much you have achieved. Don’t focus solely on your weaknesses but more on your strengths. When you focus on strength, it is a whole different conversation.”

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