Learning to lead: Lloyds' Sarah Hardman on ditching managing for leading #NxtGen

Marketing reveals its list of 10 Nxt Gen marketers. Here, Lloyd's Baking Group's Sarah Hardman and her mentor discuss how she is scrapping management and learning to lead.

Hardman: "Can-do", approachable, animated
Hardman: "Can-do", approachable, animated

Sarah Hardman, 28, Lloyds Banking Group

Senior marketing manager

Describe yourself in three words.

"Can-do", approachable, animated.

What are your biggest marketing challenges?

Being prepared and set up as a marketing function for tomorrow and what the world will look like. It’s really important that we start to get ahead of trends and deliver what the customer wants when they want it.

What skills do you think are most important for getting ahead in marketing today?

You need to be really adaptable and able to embrace change. You can learn about new technologies and best practice from industry experts and agencies, but it’s much harder to learn the attitude you need to progress with change.

What are the biggest trends affecting your business?

Our customers’ lives have changed over the past few years with the recession, and their relationship with money and their bank has also changed as a result. We are working on building trust with our customers, taking an expert role showing them how we can help them and get them to prosper. Customers are confident managing their money online and via mobile; they expect to be able to interact with us via social media and for us to be open 24/7. This has all been hard for the financial-services industry to keep up with, due to the stricter regulation and governance around our industry, but we’re slowly getting there.

What traits make Catherine Kehoe such a great boss?

She is passionate about our customers. In particular, how Lloyds Banking Group can make customers better off, being fair and transparent. Catherine translates this vision for colleagues, ensuring they all put customers at the heart of everything. She is also an inspirational female leader in an industry sector that is predominantly male. Her remit is constantly growing and evolving, yet her expertise and her vision for what our marketing team should become remains strong.

I need to be an ambassador for driving cultural change and show exactly what is expected of people.

How has she most helped you in relation to your job?

I’m currently undertaking a secondment leading and embedding our vision of what a world-class marketing team looks like, and driving this cultural change within the marketing function. Catherine has given me really good advice about how to broaden my leadership skills. I am learning how to move away from simply managing people, to instead leading a team of people who do not directly report to me, but can still deliver the vision we have set out. Catherine was clear that I needed to be an ambassador for driving cultural change and show exactly what is expected of people. But, most importantly, she was clear that I needed to involve and get buy-in from senior management from the beginning, which all helped me to develop my role and lead this change.

What is the best piece of advice she has given you that you’d pass on?

Focus on deliverables – it’s great to be recognised for success, but, ultimately, you are responsible for delivering, and you need to be able to physically show what impact you have made. When I was talking to Catherine about career-planning and what my next role should be, she gave me some really practical advice about focusing on the here and now, delivering amazing results in your current role, and then the next role should follow based on your previous results.

Catherine Kehoe, mentor

Managing director, brands and marketing

What was the first thing you noticed about Sarah?

Sarah’s relentless enthusiasm while delivering some very strong work on the Halifax campaigns. She launched one of the first "£100 for switching" campaigns (our most successful ever), as well as working across credit cards, loans and savings. What stood out was that these were always innovative, distinctive and true to our brand positioning, and this was absolute testament to Sarah’s contribution.

What made Sarah stand out among the young marketers you work with?

Her "can-do" attitude and enthusiasm. She is never fazed by seizing opportunities and always rises to whatever challenge presents itself.

What attributes does she have that mean she deserves her place in the Power 100 Next Generation?

All the attributes you would expect: intelligence, great judgement and commercial acumen. What sets her apart, however, is her ability to lead with passion, enthusiasm and courage.

What specific marketing insight or skills has she brought to the company?

She thinks about the needs of our customers relentlessly and has a genuine passion to treat them fairly and do right by them.

What is your major piece of advice to any young marketers wanting to get to the top?

You need four things: knowledge (always know your stuff); perspective (know how much things matter); humility (speak with your actions); and enthusiasm (the world is made up of radiators and drains – be a radiator).