A day in the life of Leigh Lafever-Ayer, Human Resources Director at Enterprise Holdings and Inspiring Automotive Women Award Winner 2020

Leigh is the gender lead on Enterprise’s UK diversity board.

She has introduced diversity initiatives which include Enterprising Women Employee Network, Lean in Mentoring Circle, DRIVE, an internal digital and print magazine profiling the success of women in Enterprise, Diversity Scorecard, and BITC award winning tool used to self-assess diversity progress and shares best practice to name a few.

Within Enterprise, Leigh has successfully advocated for and introduced a range of dedicated benefits focused on gender inclusion. This includes giving everyone the opportunity to work flexibily or adjust their schedule upon request and also phasing back into working patterns after maternity or shared parental leave with 100% of pay. Throughout the pandemic, Leigh has particularly championed the work of the Enterprise mental health first aiders and continues to be a mentor to female both internally and externally. 

We recently had the pleasure of catching up with Leigh, as she gave insight into a typical working day as a Human Resources Director for Enterprise Holdings.

“My daily routine has changed dramatically in recent months. In the past, if I wasn’t at our corporate headquarters in Egham, my typical day would start at Heathrow to catch the first flight out, taking the train into London for meetings or driving around the M25 to travel to one of our operating groups.

At the beginning of the pandemic, I decided to make a change with my sleep patterns. I knew I needed more sleep to be able to keep my resilience up and stress levels down. With travel and late dinners in London canceled, I used this opportunity to change my routine, so my day starts a little later now at 6.30 am.

I live outside of London with my husband, our fourteen-year old daughter and a black Labrador. My husband works from home and has always handled the school run. He is an audio producer and a bass guitarist. The writers and directors he works with are based in the USA on the east and west coast. This means his working hours are different from mine. 

The pandemic is the first time ever that we have spent time together as a family during the breakfast rush. Whether I am in the office or at home, I am at my desk by 8.00 am. On the days when I work at our European headquarters, my commute is only 10 minutes. I am loving my thirty-second commute although I do miss my local coffee shop. For the last several months, I have decided to work from home as have most of my colleagues.

I try to dress smart, even if I am wearing jeans, and wear some make-up. I must admit, I am loving my furry Birkenstocks and even had them on for the Automotive 30% Club Awards.  

Three years ago, I decided that I was going to read three newspapers a day as I thought we were heading into a recession. First thing, I pull these up on my laptop, but I am lucky to read one because generally something urgent needs to be addressed from overnight. I do manage to skim headlines for important updates.

I used to compartmentalise my life for balance. Now, I have had to be creative about how I do this; using separate laptops for work and home, designating a space for work and using time management and technology wellbeing principles to schedule my day.

What I love about human resources is that no two days are ever the same! Some days you are dealing with complex issues that come up overnight and some days are a series of meetings. 

My mornings are spent in senior team meetings with our core leadership team reviewing our business performance, with our core Europe HR team reviewing how countries are coming out of lockdown, or with my HR managers reviewing employee engagement and wellbeing. I know I am most cerebral in the morning, so if there something difficult to tackle, I do it then.

I have a lot of operational experience, so I am invited to many meetings that aren’t solely human resources. I like collaborating on business strategy. Internally, I was recognised as Top UK Department Head in the fiscal year 2020. This was the first time this award was given, so I am proud of my team’s influence and contributions as true business partners.  

I have changed the cadence of how I check in with teammates and I believe in many aspects, we have built stronger relationships over the past year. For example, we have implemented calls with different teams where we only speak about diversity, equity and inclusion. This has led to innovative strategy and I believe people are more open and honest when they are in their own home.  

Lately in the mornings, I have been doing more coffee hangouts with employees just to check in. A few times a month, I have editorial meetings with our advisory board for DRIVE, a magazine created to connect enterprising women in our business. We are decentralised and this magazine gives us an opportunity to share stories about successful women in our business. It also helps men see issues through a gender lens.  

I take a break at noon to have lunch with my family, generally leftovers from the night before or a salad. My daughter’s school decided to give two hours break mid-day so that has become dog walking time and I try to join whenever I am able. I will miss this when she starts back to school.

The afternoons are generally spent in meetings with my US colleagues. Currently, we are in the process of testing a new time and attendance system. I am trying to sit on as many calls as I can to check progress and governance.  

If I am not on US or project calls, I hold one-to-one meetings. These are with my direct and indirect reports; some are weekly, some are monthly. I commonly plan in some buffer time to answer emails, return phone calls, work on presentations or review various data I may have requested.  

Currently, International Women’s Day and Employee Appreciation Day are keeping me busy with public speaking. I usually have a couple of external speaking engagements on the go so I may schedule afternoon time to prepare. Last week, I hosted a book launch and now I have upcoming engagements with HR Grapevine and CIPD.

On most days, I end work at 6.00 pm and have dinner with my family. My husband cooks most nights. Even before the pandemic, we ate dinner together as a family. Occasionally, I may have an external board meeting after work.

After we clean up, we all have our own routine. My husband finishes up his work, my daughter does her homework or Instagram art and I FaceTime my parents in the USA. Lately, I have been brushing up on my French with Netflix series. I am usually asleep by 10.30 pm, sometimes earlier.”  


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