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CHOOSE LIFE…by Tariq Siraj

They say sports and politics should never mix, but they do share a common trait – certainly in recent times – in that both have largely helped debunk the myth of the ‘all-knowing commentator’. Time and again the pollsters, forecasters, pundits and predictors get it wrong. Life, it seems, does not play out according to stats, simulations or rankings.

This has been particularly true of the World Cup in Russia where the results have specifically (and gloriously) shattered the idea that having billions of dollars and ‘world-renowned experts’ gives you some magic soothsaying abilities.

As a way to show off their fancy modelling techniques and predict the winner before the start, UBS deployed a team of 18 analysts and editors, ran a computer simulation of the tournament 10,000 times and produced a comprehensive 17-page research note – all at great cost.

Unfortunately for them their prediction was that Germany would, by some distance ahead of Spain and Brazil, be the likely winner again. After all the expense and trumpet blowing, their big conclusion went down the toilet in the group stages.

Similarly, after two games Goldman Sachs re-ran their own ‘market leading’ mathematical model to predict the outcome of all the knockout games and the eventual winner. Again, like UBS, the ‘experts’ and the uber modern game-changing models were left in the shade by how real life played out; of the 16 teams in the second round only four were predicted correctly by Goldman to advance, and their conclusion that Brazil would be the winner was also laid to rest after their defeat on the Quarter Finals.


So…what’s the point?

On the one hand UBS and Goldman predicting Germany, Brazil or Spain to triumph was essentially just in line with the thoughts of the majority of people anyway – so were the expensive simulations, reports and expert analysts actually required at all? The phrase ‘we could have told you that’ comes to mind.

And on the other hand, of course, the predictions were completely and embarrassingly wrong…so whether you’re a multi-billion dollar bulge bracket bank or just a simple football fan, it seems as if football matches and life will indeed play out on their own terms.

Now, we definitely could have told you that!


Choose Life...

The Gender Pay Gap – righting a wrong! by Catriona Cookson

Just in case you were all thinking this newsletter was too much about the football …….although I know women are just as interested in the football as men. What’s not to like about Gareth, Harry and the Band of Brothers?

Anyway, a change of tack now with a look at the recent settlement by the BBC with Carrie Gracie former China editor. The BBC apologised, admitted they had been underpaying her and paid the backpay which was due. The BBC acknowledged she was told she would be paid in line with the North America editor when she took the role, but in reality, this never happened.

Carrie Gracie has now donated her backpay to a charity, the Fawcett Society to help low paid women and those who don’t have access to the high caliber legal advice which assisted Carrie in her claim.

It is very easy for people to say in many situations – It’s about the principle and not about the money”, and with her actions Carrie Gracie has won on all fronts. I’ve read some snippy articles saying she should have kept the money, a man would never have given it away etc etc. Frankly, I’m not sure I would have given it all away ….some of it yes, but some of that hard earned cash I’d want to spend on certain things. So, all credit to Carrie Gracie, she fought her corner and won……and was gracious in her comments about Director General Tony Hall and is contributing to a project at the BBC in women in the workplace there. So, let’s see what comes out of all of that!

In the meantime, let’s hope this rings a very large alarm bell for any organisations in a similar position and that they have taken the necessary steps to rectify the situation. There can be no excuse!

Pay Gap

What can we learn from Barcelona and Iniesta? by Catriona Cookson

Staying with the football theme, I was interested to read an article by Gianpiero Petriglieri, Associate Professor of Organisational Behaviour,at INSEAD about Andres Iniesta’s Farewell match at Barcelona . Iniesta joined Barcelona when he was 12 and was leaving 22 years later having won more trophies than any other player in Spanish history. He’s gone on to play in this World Cup and is off to Japan for the next chapter in his career.

Gianpiero considers that in the modern workplace we are all potentially always on the move, in a state of liminality (yes, a new word for me too), where we are always betwixt and between. And, if we are to be more flexible in the workplace, with multiple moves in our careers, then we and the organisations we work for need to become much better at endings. I’d guess most people would want to be a “good leaver” from one role to the next, and how organisations as well as individuals manage this is key. Today’s leaver could be tomorrow’s client – many consulting firms have wisened up to the power of their alumni network and the opportunities this brings.

And once again the beautiful game comes up with a beautiful story of Barcelona keeping the stadium open for Iniesta until he decided to leave at 1am, when it would earn no money, sell no shirts or win any points ….to allow a great player a moment of solitude and reflection…..and that beautiful picture!



Psychometric Tests – even the England football team are doing them!! by Catriona Cookson

Psychometric tests – love them or hate them – they form a part in many hiring decisions. Even if they’re not called “tests”, and are labelled something more user friendly for example, Personality Profiling, it still feels like a test!

Recruiting in the management consultancy sector, it can be frustrating for us to see good candidates ruled out at the first stage as their profile doesn’t match the one the client is looking to hire. This begs the question – Is it really a good idea, business or otherwise, to recruit everyone with the same profile? However, if you don’t match the profile which has been shown to thrive in this firm, maybe it is better to know sooner rather than later when you may have invested a lot of time, effort and preparation into a recruitment process for a role and firm which isn’t ultimately going to be the right fit. I’ve always thought the most useful profiling tests are the ones which are very much part of the hiring decision, taken into consideration with a host of other factors. Perhaps they may be useful in highlighting training and development possibilities or as a guide in how an individual may complement an existing team’s strengths.

On the subject of teams….it seems even the England football team have been doing psychometric profiling to assess who is most suited to taking penalties. It would seem a far more sensible approach – and so far, so good – than just deciding on the day depending on who fancied having a go!!! So, love them or loathe them the profiling tests are here to stay, and as with the football, be true to yourself, answer honestly and don’t try to second guess the goalie!!

Psychometric Test

Networking Groups for Women – Curious to Find Out More? by Liz Watt

One of the joys of developing a Coaching practice has been the opportunity to work on broader personal development projects, and one such has been establishing women’s networking groups.

A networking group can be a powerful thing. But why a women’s networking group? Research shows that one of the ‘unwritten rules’ of advancement in business is to have a strong network, both inside ones workplace, as well as within the wider business community. And yet it is a fact that most women do not have as strong a business network as their male counterparts. A dedicated group therefore provides an opportunity to develop a network amongst your industry peer group and a platform to discuss relevant issues in a safe, supportive and collaborative environment. It is an opportunity to take time away from the office to plan, reflect and learn, gaining confidence through sharing ideas and experiences.

Studies show that membership of a networking group helps increase women’s self-esteem, thus aiding them to reach their full potential.

My first venture has been a networking group for women in Indirect Tax. Established last year, it has really taken off. The founding group is approximately 14 strong, and meets once a quarter for an afternoon. We have a great guest presenter on a topical issue, there is time to discuss any topics that are relevant to the guests, and there’s plenty of opportunity for networking during the afternoon and afterwards. It’s non-technical – the prevailing view was that everyone gets more than enough technical input back at the office!

Indirect Tax Women’s Network Logo - email

So successful has the first group been that group 2 launches this June.

So as an example, our first speaker was Jayne Constantinis who gave a fabulous presentation on communication skills and how we can enhance them.   It was a really interactive session and stimulated lively debate!  Sally Smy of Queen Bee Styling was our pre-Christmas speaker and she gave us loads of practical guidance on personal presentation and how to build a great professional wardrobe that really works.  And then in March,  Jacqueline Heronfar-reaching insights into resilience and stress management and a raft of excellent coping strategies. We have an exciting programme planned for the rest of 2018 too.

I am delighted with how this initiative has taken off and the feedback has been great. For example: ‘a really informative and entertaining session’; ‘took away a lot of interesting points that I will certainly be implementing’ ‘a very friendly and supportive atmosphere for the group’ ‘really interesting and practical tips that can be put into practice easily’.

There seems to be real appetite for the network and the membership is drawn from the profession – Big 4, mid-tier and independent consultancies – and those in industry and commerce. The first group is based in London, for those at Senior Manager or equivalent and above. As well as a second London group, the plan is to establish a regional group and one for newly promoted managers and equivalent, who perhaps have different issues to tackle at this earlier point in their careers.

And of course, there is no reason why this networking initiative can’t be rolled out to other areas too so I will be exploring interest from other niche disciplines.

I’m keen that the networking groups should be inclusive and have been gratified at the support and sponsorship we’ve received from male clients and contacts. If there are any men who would like to find out more about the group, or come along as guest speakers, please let me know!

If you would like to find out some more about the Indirect Tax Women’s Network, or if you are interested in how I might be able to set up a network for your technical discipline, please get in touch for a chat.

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Networking Group


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