Philippa Jackson joined Mars Petcare UK just over four years ago as a People and Organisation Business Partner after a career in law. Philippa started her career as an employment lawyer and then managed the HR function at a national law firm. She then re-qualified, obtaining her CIPD and gained experience in the automotive industry working for Jaguar Land Rover before joining Mars. Philippa has always been passionate about inspiring, motivating and developing an organisation through change – a passion she exemplifies in her current role as Mars’ Director of People and Organisation.
The move from law to HR was daunting but exciting. At first, Philippa remembers not being clear how she added value as she was used to measuring her contribution through time spent on a case, “every 6 minutes was charged to the client” she explains. However, she soon adapted and enjoyed building people strategies for talent and engagement, as well as creating organisations fit for the future. Philippa reflects that ‘looking back, my legal experience was a good grounding for a career in HR, bringing judgement and perspective. For anyone who feels nervous of changing their career path, I would encourage them to take the time to think about their own strengths. I’m sure you’ll find that the two won’t be as different as you first thought and you’ll be able to bring a fresh and new perspective’.
During her time at Mars Petcare, Philippa has been lucky enough to have what she describes as one of the best line mangers of her career – who bolstered her confidence in her leadership skills and encouraged her to unleash her potential. In her current role, which she was promoted to earlier this year, Philippa is at the forefront of developing and executing strategies that cultivate the talents of Mars Petcare’s UK Associates.
Drawing on her own experience, Philippa shares an internal dialogue of self-doubt as something that held her back in the past and believes that the same is true for a lot of women either in leadership roles, or those wanting to pursue them. Her biggest personal learning has been understanding how important it is to stop doubting, stop worrying about what others think and that at some point you just need to back yourself – a learning which she shares with her female team members.
Philippa wants to enable women to unleash their own potential: “It’s great that women are talking so openly about imposter syndrome, but whilst sharing these feelings builds a network of support, it doesn’t make a person suddenly more confident.”
Because of this, she advises her own female team members that what builds confidence is refining skills and maximising experiences in work such as problem solving, managerial courage, perspective and business acumen. Philippa said that “some of the most magical moments for me are the ones where I have small conversations with big impact – where you can see you have coached and influenced someone to have a crucial conversation or lean into something they were avoiding.”
Philippa has a young daughter and returned to work full time. When asked about whether this was a difficult choice she explained;
“for me, I am a better mother as a working mother. On maternity leave I found myself creating red, amber and green status updates at home which was a clear sign I needed to come back to work! There are two things that made the difference for me. The first is making sure that when I walk out the door at home I’m doing it for a job I find really exciting. The second is that I married a superhero. Of course, there are times when it gets overwhelming but being vulnerable is ok, talking it over and asking for help means it’s all doable. As a team, it works!”
Philippa sees her future firmly in People and Organisation at Mars which she says, “has the most incredibly smart, fun and value driven Associates who want to develop and learn and also bring out the best in others.”
For Philippa, the purpose of making the world a better place for pets and people is what she really loves about working in the “weird and wonderful” world of Mars Petcare: “I guess the irony is that we have an established Petiquette Policy which means that dogs are welcome in our offices, however, I had to ban my own dog Stanley from coming in after he took a dislike to one of our sales director – which was a bit awkward.”