Posted by: Georgina Knowles

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Inspiring debate at our latest Oakleaf Academy Emerging Talent event

Oakleaf were delighted to welcome Megan Phelps, Head of HR at Kier Property, and Moira Slape, HR Director at Travers Smith, to our London offices last night for Module 2 of our Oakleaf Academy ‘Emerging Talent’ Programme, with a focus on the importance of Personal Impact.

Megan is a commercially astute, high flying HR professional who has had a phenomenal trajectory and track record from early beginnings in the civil service and even a stint in Downing Street! Our second speaker Moira joined Travers Smith following a distinguished and successful career at companies including Eversheds, White & Case and Linklaters. She is a highly regarded HR Director and was the winner of 'Best Individual Contribution' at the HR in Law Awards 2017!

With over 50 attendees at last night’s event, the ‘Emerging Talent’ Programme is aimed at nurturing and supporting those in the first few years of their HR career, and is a perfect opportunity for our candidates to expand their own network, and share knowledge across industry and sector.

The key points from the event were:

  1. BUILD YOUR NETWORK – Ensure you maintain key relationships - your network are your sponsors and are there to advise and mentor you now and in the future – so listen and learn from them.
  2. VISIBILITY - Make sure you are famous for something (consider what you want to be known for or how do you want people to think about you?). Talk to others about what they love, be seen in the business and be enthusiastic. Ensure you’re clear about the impact you want to make!
  3. IT’S NOT JUST WHAT YOU SAY – Body language and tone of voice are just as important as the words you’re saying. First impressions are hugely important – so ensure you’re well-presented and speak confidently (you may be surprised on the impact this has on people’s initial impression of you).
  4. DON’T BE AFRAID TO SHOW SOME VULNERABILITY – All great leaders show their softer side as people need to be able to relate to those in charge. Don’t hide behind a book – everyone is human after all so embrace your vulnerable side.
  5. BE TRUE TO YOURSELF – Always be authentic - know what you want to stand for and be remembered for during your career. It takes more energy to be someone that you’re not, so always be authentic.
  6. DON’T BE AFRAID TO ASK WHY – You often have to push back and challenge the status quo in order to deliver solutions, so don’t be scared to ask why or how in any given work situation.
  7. ENJOY WHAT YOU DO! This is crucial throughout your career as your personal happiness in any HR role you undertake is crucial.

The feedback we have received from the event so far has been extremely positive, with attendees commenting that the speakers were both very inspiring, with everyone coming away with thoughts about how they can make changes in their own workplace and job role.

The Oakleaf Academy Emerging Talent scheme has 4 modules, each with a key theme or learning objective. Module 3 will be held in September time, with the discussion focused on commerciality. We will again have high profile speakers lined up with the opportunity to network with likeminded HR professionals. For more information about how to get involved please contact Georgina Knowles on, or click here to find out more about the scheme

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