Authentic Achievements with Special Guest Amanda Scott

authentic achievements with amanda scott
Authentic Achievements with Special Guest Amanda Scott

From Bestselling author currently writing the forthcoming book Authentic Achievements – The 7 Secrets to Building Brave Belief, Unstoppable Sales, and Turning Your Leaders Into Talent Magnets for Guaranteed Sustainable Growth, this show features interviews with industry leaders and shares advice, stories and inspiration to help you achieve exponential growth personally and for your business.

In this episode, I am delighted to be joined by Amanda Scott. Amanda is the Global Mergers & Acquisitions (M&A) Leader at Willis Towers Watson (WTW) based in London. She leads a global team that helps clients evaluate and address the critical people-related issues, assets, liabilities, risks and opportunities surrounding corporate transactions.

She inspires people to think differently about the future as they implement large-scale organizational change to drive innovation, diversity, and positive growth.

She is also the CEO/Founder of Mike’s Mates, a mental health charity in the UK. Additionally, Amanda is a Board Member for Global Women 4 Wellbeing (GW4W), Pensions Management Institute (PMI) and the Viviana Durante Ballet Company.  

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Full Transcript:

Authentic Achievements Amanda Scott

Hello and welcome to this episode of Authentic Achievements where I’m delighted to be joined by Amanda Scott. Amanda is the global mergers and acquisitions leader, Willis Towers Watson, based in London. She leads a global team that help clients evaluate and address the critical people related issues, assets, liabilities, risks and opportunities surrounding corporate transactions. She inspires people to think differently about the future as they implement large scale organizational change to drive innovation, diversity and positive growth. She’s also the CEO and founder of Mike’s Mates, a mental health charity in the uk. And additionally, Amanda is board member for Global Women for Wellbeing Pensions Management Institute and the Vivian Duran Ballet Company. So, and also is one of life’s loveliest people. I’ve had the pleasure of talking with you before and I’m so excited to have you on the show sharing your amazing journey with our guests. So thank you for coming along.

Thank you so much for having me. I’m excited to have our conversation today.

Oh, me too. And I love that there’s such, such variety in, in what you do and the whole piece with Mike’s mates and the ballet. Yeah, I love ballet. Probably good. It really kind of takes me back to my childhood and my little girl is currently learning ballet as well, age, age five, and thinks that she is the next person I think.


She’s just lovely to see, isn’t it? So Amanda, can you tell us a bit about your journey so far, please?

Yeah, absolutely. So a main thread I guess through my journey has been all around helping people. I have a global mindset and quite adventurous, but I’m also very, very curious. So throughout my life I’ve done all kinds of wild and wonderful things. So I studied with a shaman in the Amazon. I visited the Darwin Laboratory in the Guus. I studied international finance in India and the magnesium industry in Naing China. So really embraced the world and all of the opportunities that it creates. Something else, I’d say as well throughout my journey is that I’m really empathetic and want to have a really wide positive impact. And you talked a little bit about Mike’s mates and that’s a, a huge purpose for me, which is, so in 2015 we lost our best friend Mike to suicide. And so we realized that through that experience it’s really challenging to find help when you need help.

So what we’ve done is very simple. We’ve created a website of various options that people, people can go to to get support. So try to take something hard and turn it into action and, and yeah, create a solution. And I guess that’s probably maybe the third, third underlying piece of all of this is that I love when people have problems that they need to solve or they’re looking for solutions in action because I love organizations that are in transformation or really need help. So I love creating order from chaos and turning strategy into action and results. So that’s just a little bit about me and my journey so far.

I love that. I love I one that I what amazing experiences, you know, traveling the world and and really embracing, as you say, what, what life’s got to offer. And then also that taking that passion, that curiosity and that desire to leave things better than you found them and do that even in the most tragic of circumstances to look for. Can there be a, can there be a positive to come out of the pain and can you make sure nobody else is, is left in that space? Is is just amazing. And I, I guess that’s driven a lot of your life lessons, but what would you say is the thing that you are proudest of right now?

Yeah, I think there are a couple things that I’m quite proud of. I think the first is always going to be my children. So you mentioned your daughter earlier. I have a two year old and a seven year old and my seven year old at his school, one his kindness award. And at the same time I had won a kindness awarded in leadership. So for me it was just a, an amazing opportunity that we were sharing the same values and appreciating the same values. So I think that for me was a, a huge success and meant a lot to me. I think the other thing that I reflect a lot on is I did have my daughter while in lockdown during the pandemic. So that was quite a challenge. And I think that from that I learned a lot about happiness and I learned a lot from the pandemic about happiness because so much of my life up until that moment in my career was really striving for happiness. The next opportunity, the next promotion, the next role, the next win, the next degree. And then in that moment I realized that sometimes to be happy you just need to stop and let yourself be happy. And when the world kind of ground to a halt, it was in that moment that that it really resonated that actually it’s not about continually doing but actually being

Oh, I love that. That’s, that’s so true. I, one, I love the whole piece around kindness. That’s what we’re one of me and my little girl, we, you know, always talk about what we, what are we grateful for And it’s always about kindness. It’s always about how can we be, be kind of things but a love also that you took the, that moment of pause to realize that happiness comes from within, not without. And yet we do, don’t we, we chase for it. We we, we’ll be happy when this happens. We’ll be happy when that happens And and we kind of never take that moment to step back and go, Oh actually we’re happy now we’re happy. What does it mean? Say we don’t want other things as well, but actually we don’t need them anymore. They’re not the thing that is going to give us the happiness because that really comes from in here, doesn’t it?

Absolutely. Absolutely.

Amazing. So what would you say has been the greatest lesson that you’ve learned? I imagine there’s loads cuz such a variety of experiences that you’ve had.

So I had, I think my favorite piece of advice I’ve ever received is what makes you odd will make you great. So maybe I’ll explain that a little bit. But when I started my career, I started as an analyst in the retirement business. So doing benefit calculations and taking actuarial exams and I absolutely loved it. I loved working in Excel, I loved the data, I loved the people I was working with and I, I really just kept trying hard to be really successful at it. And every performance review meeting I’d go into my supervisor’s office and sit down with her and kind of brace myself for the feedback because I knew I was trying really hard. But I also knew there was a lot to learn and I’d continually pick at the negative feedback are the areas that I needed to focus on and grow and build plans around it and work harder at it.

And one performance management meeting, we sat down and she said, So I’ve just given you a lot of really good feedback and you’re focusing so much on this negative and where you need to learn and grow that I want you to take a pause, I want you to stop focusing so much on the negative but realize that yes you can learn from that but focus on the positives as well because that’s what will make you great. And when we went back and looked at the performance feedback that I had gotten up until that point, it was about relationship management and client focus and strategic thinking and driving action across a team. And so it really kind of made me pause and think about the fact that yes, I can continually get better and I can continue elevate my technical abilities but at the same time I can’t lose the core of who I am and what I really like doing and I’m naturally drawn to. So it was in that kind of conversation that I realized I needed to focus on clients and I got my MBA to strengthen my ability for strategic thinking and just started to embrace my passion and honesty and emotional intelligence as well as the technical capabilities.

Oh, I love that. And what great advice, you know, cuz I think we do, we strive, don’t we to bit to be perfect, whatever perfect is cause when none of us are gonna be perfect. And actually you always say to people, it’s your imperfection is your perfection, whatever it is that is your, you said it so eloquently, it’s embracing, it’s embracing the bit that makes you art, isn’t it? That your, your weirdness is actually your superpower. It’s the thing that you bring. It allows us to see things from a, from a different point of view. And I think sometimes we can be so driven by wanting to get it right. And it sounds like we, we are very similar. I had a boss who once said to me, it’s very similar place actually. It was in a, in a review and I’d done similar, it didn’t matter what good feedback, I got one little bit of negative and I was all over it. It was my,

And I remember saying to me, Kim, I’ve never met anybody who beats themselves up so often and so harshly. And if it weren’t for the fact it was so tragic, it would be a key skill. I was like, that’s feedback. But I didn’t realize it at the time. But now looking back, I could only ever take the negatives because they were the thing that I thought were holding me back from the happiness to your earlier point to say, well if I just perfect those, if I just perfect this piece, if I just make everybody like me, which again is another impossibility, isn’t it? Cuz not everyone is gonna like you as long as you’re being kind and you’re trying to be, that’s kind of the most that you can put into that situation, isn’t it? But I live that, that’s where you got your discovery of your joy for clients, for solving problems for the people elements. Cuz that is so clearly your gift in life. And I know that you also have a gift for poetry and I wondered if I could call upon you to share one of them with us please.

Yeah, absolutely. So I was reflecting on a coworker that had a particular impact on me and she’s someone I would hold up as one of our best leaders within the organization. And I wrote this in her memory. So let me read it to you. Can leadership be female and be feminine? When I started my career, I asked for advice on how to grow into leadership. The reply, tie your hair back, wear trousers less blonde. And I’ve had a lot of coaching deepen my voice, less smiling, stronger body language, be more masculine. And every female leader will likely have at least one instance where they receive feedback on their look or advice to pull back on femininity to advance. Yet she role modeled a different type of leadership. Leadership can be female and it can be feminine, it can be graceful and beautiful. It can be thoughtful and persuasive. It can be high fashion and pedicures. It can be laughter and empathy, it can be global with coordinating luggage, it can be whatever you want it to be. There’s no one way to be a leader.

Oh, I love that. I love that. What what a beautiful tribute as well to the lady who inspired it. Does she know that you’ve written that about her?

No, she doesn’t. She had passed away at the time. Oh. Wanted to share this message with her family and our coworkers.

Amazing. What what a beautiful, beautiful tribute and just also demonstrates the impact leaders can have on us because they stay with us much longer, don’t they? Than just the time that we’re with them. They’re particularly the really good ones because they, they leave an imprint on and how we want to lead, how we want to make our people feel. And I think that’s just the one I love the poem cuz because so it so resonates. We do, don’t we particularly, we do all get given the advice on, you know, have more gravitas, change your vocabulary, dress differently, you know, try and try and be more like X, Y, and Z. And I think once you get the confidence to just be you, I think that for me is possibly the greatest lesson I got in leadership was it’s okay to be you. Yeah. And you don’t have to be somebody else.

And yes, you will do it differently, but that’s okay. What’s important I think, and, and you, you kind of, you articulated it so well, what’s important is the impact that you have not on how you turn up, not on how you show up, not whether or not you’re too blonde or you’ve got a dress or a pedicure. It is about kind of, are you being empathetic? Are you being kind, are you, are you being curious? And I think for me that’s kind of the, that’s the real superpower of life isn’t it? Is if you can remain curious about things. If you can, instead of thinking I know the answer. Go. Okay, I’ve never thought of it like that. Go on, tell me more. Let me understand a little bit more. What would you say has been your, your biggest leadership learning so far?

I think for me the hardest thing has been being an introvert in leadership because a lot of leaders and role models are extroverted or at least appear to be extroverted. So I think the hardest part for me has been learning how to embrace my quiet and finding other ways to have an impact. So using words for example, and recognizing that it’s okay to spend time with my words and have prepared more than possibly someone else who could just float up on stage and eloquently speak. So I think that’s been a big learning. I think the other side of that as well is that it’s important to talk about that and let people know that you are naturally an introvert because it’s not just an extroverted world. People that think that spend time really contemplating or really understanding a situation before making a decision can still make quick decisions and still have really impressive financial results and drive a team to a success.

It’s just a different way of doing it. So I think that recognizing that, again, people do have just different styles and different ways and letting people be themselves is really important. So I recently was doing a career speech within my organization and someone asked, Well can you be a leader and be an introvert? And you can, you can do, you just need to think about how you make space so that you can recover from being in a role that’s perhaps more extroverted or more in the light. So for example, I’ll, I’ll have my days where I do just need to spend time working on our strategy or thinking through Excel and going through our financials and that’s okay, that’s a key part of the role too. It’s not just talking and, and being out there.

I love that such great advice around being kind to yourself and and recognizing what you need to be at your best. So, you know, if you had to go and be a bit more extroverted in, in a particular activity, finding some time to recoup and re rejuvenate and and go inward, I imagine. And to, to kind of create that balance. And I think you’re right, I don’t think it matters if we’re introverted or extroverted. I, I happen to be my Briggs practitioner and actually one of the exercises we used to do was get teams to split up to introverts and extroverts and look at a Christmas, a picture of Christmas tree. And it was hilarious because they extroverts when you got them to describe what was happening, you, I mean they’d say there was a tree in there, but they’d be talking about the fact that there was, there was snow outside and there was Carol singers and there was the fire, nothing at all really about the tree.

Whereas when you, when you spoke to the introverted group, they could tell you all about it, how many decorations were on it. But when you put them together, you got the most compelling story, you got the whole picture. And we used to do that just to get people to realize that neither one on their own was right. It was when they came together, it was the value of all of the parts that actually allowed the team to really thrive and survive. And I think that’s kind of what what you’ve demonstrated in being able to, to use your introvertedness to actually really be planned, to be thoughtful, to have really considered things from a different point of view. And I imagine in your role around transformation, that is a crucial skill because there’s so many moving parts aren’t there in the kind of work that you do.

Absolutely. And I think that it’s helpful to be able to reflect and pull all of these pieces together all at once. And there’s something that I heard about recently that I really, really enjoyed the concept of, which is mosaic role modeling, where you’re taking pieces of role models and putting them together in a way that makes sense for you. And I think so often we’re so focused on finding like the perfect role model and it’s hard because you shouldn’t ever try to role model or model yourself after anyone else because you are uniquely you. So I think the concept just really seems to work for me. So I really like how this person negotiates, let me learn how they negotiate. I love how this person really can see the financial drivers in a spreadsheet. Let’s, let’s figure out how they’re doing that and learn from them on that. I really like how this person presents in a pitch or a presentation and thinking about what’s making them successful that’s resonating with you and just taking the pieces of what the strengths are that you wanna learn and the skills are that you wanna learn and putting that together in a really unique way for yourself.

Oh, how amazing. I’ve never heard of that, but what a great concept because you’re right, we do, we do, we can sometimes try and role model a person, but actually it’s more their different skills or the way they interact or the, the way that they, their thought processes worked in a particular way that you kind of like how, how did they do that? Why did, do I learn how, how to do those elements? But, but actually I I, that whole concept of of creating that kind of mosaic, that collage of all of the great people, because you can see then how you could really become the best version of you because you’re taking the bits that that resonate with who you are as well. And I, I love that throughout kind of your, your story, that piece comes through so clearly that actually you’ve found a way of making sure that you are inwardly comfortable with how you are outwardly being so that, so that it remains true to you, it remains authentically who you are. Would that that be fair?

Yes, absolutely. And I think that it particularly comes to a sharp edge when I’m presenting on stage. So being an introvert, also slightly terrified of public speaking, I found that I was originally terrified because I was doing it in a way that wasn’t authentic. I was trying on different styles and different approaches and I’d watch people who are amazing at this and try to mirror some of the things that they were doing. And what I realized is that the reason I was getting so anxious or upset or just worried about these presentations was because it wasn’t who I was and I wasn’t doing it in a way that felt natural or felt comfortable to me. And I’ll, I’ll still admit that it does still terrify me sometimes to get up on a big stage, but I know that I’m going to do it in my way and, and that’s okay and that’s actually welcome. And people like seeing people who are a little bit different or a little bit unusual in the way that they present. So yeah, I think again, it’s kind of finding your niche and finding how you do things and being authentic makes you more comfortable.

I love that. It is so true, isn’t it? Because actually we, we sometimes assume that everybody else is, is finding things easier than than we are. And yet actually likelihood is they’re feeling similar to us. If we just asked the question, I, I remember once standing up doing this big speech and as I stood up by every fiber of my body wanted to run away

And actually I shared it with the audience, I said, yeah, right about now every fiber of my body is telling me to run away as fast as I can and I can’t for two reasons. One, I don’t think I can run in these shoes. And two, I never come back from it because you’ve caught my name and my picture plastered all over, all over the brochure. So you’re gonna know I ran away. But what I can do is give myself permission to share with you that that’s how I feel. And in doing so, hope that I can shut the little voice up, get on with what I’m here to actually tell you. And I was like, well what would be the worst that could happen that could all have got up on garble if she doesn’t even think she could, she could stand there and talk. Why are we giving her any time? Fortunately nobody did that. But the amount of people that came up afterwards and were like, We assumed that you love it up there, you know, bright red dress, bright red lip stick.

And I was like, no, these are my, these are my outer like weapons to keep me safe. You know, it’s like my, they’re my safety shield as if I look confident. You might think I’m confident and, and then we can move it through. But actually learning to be authentically who you are and that’s kind of the whole premise of the show is to say that Jo, being you is the bit that’s vital. Whatever that you is, however that shows up because we’ve all got a gift to share, haven’t we? And it’s, it’s getting comfortable with how best do you share that that feels right for you and that allows you to, to go well I’m comfortable with this actually. I know, I know my stuff, I know that I can add value to people and I’m gonna do it in a way that’s true to me because that’s all I can really be in the world, isn’t it?

Absolutely. And I think that we’re seeing more and more employees making that decision right now. So as they’re looking at other organizations, they’re looking for the culture to be themselves. They’re looking for really strong diversity, equity, and inclusion. And I have to say, I’m quite lucky to work in the organization that I do because I do feel that we enable people to be their best and we embrace the oddities, we embrace the diversity, we embrace everyone’s quirkiness to, to be themselves. So I, I think, I think that’s a lot of what we’re seeing right now in the environment is just people, people wanting to change to be who they are.

I, I agree. Cause I think we, I think the pandemic caused us all to pause, didn’t it? And reflect and, and say, you know, if we, if we’re not liking where we are, we need to make that change. And we, what we’re seeing, I I dunno if this resonates with, with where you are, is seeing people being a lot more purpose driven. So trying to find things that align to their values, to their, to their purpose, to making an impact, making a difference. And if what they’re doing isn’t doing that, we’re seeing people make different choices. We

Absolutely, and I think even bigger than that, we’re seeing organizations doing that as well. So organizations are really focusing on their purpose. They’re thinking about what their core business is, how do they play their, to their strengths, How do they align to their ESG goals and how do they get their people aligned to their ESG goals? So I do think that we’re seeing a massive transformation not just at the individual and people level, but organizational level as well,

Which is amazing to see, isn’t it? Cause it’s, it’s been needed for a while, but I think is actually people are now embracing that and making it part of their active narrative. It’s not, it’s no longer, it no longer feels sorry, like it’s a tick box that got stuck at the end of the board knows, cause we know we’ve got to mention it really, it now really feels like people are looking at it and making it the critical part of their strategic thinking of what they need to do next of how they evolve, of how that translates into their culture, into what it’s like to be there both as a, a colleague and also as a, for their clients. You know, what is it that they, who is it that they’re serving and what is it that they need? And I, I imagine with the kind of work that you do, you see a lot of that transformation coming through, do you?

Absolutely. And it’s, it is remarkable helping organizations make it happen. And it’s fun helping to inform the vision of where they’re going. But then yeah, implement, implementing it is really, really interesting. And helping organizations really think about the human side of this and how it’s going to impact their people and what they need to do along the journey when it comes to change management and communications and elevating the employee voice and listening to their employees and just ultimately creating this amazing employee experience.

So, so true, isn’t it? Cause actually, you know, we, if we create the right experience for our employees, they can create the right experience for our clients because it is back to modeling, isn’t it? It if we model giving them a great experience, then hopefully they want to emulate that out to the people that they do. But very often, sadly, we hadn’t given that that much thought. It was like, well, that they’ll be fine, they’ll get a paycheck, they’ll, they’ll come with us on the journey. But change is hard and it’s uncomfortable sometimes. So giving that real thought to how you gonna hold somebody’s hands as they go through that change is a crucial skill. And I know one that you do so eloquently. Thank you. So I’m gonna chat to you literally all, all day, but I, but I’m conscious also of your time. Can I ask you one final one final question? If you could go back and give your younger self some advice, what would it be?

Well, so actually I have a poem if that’s okay.

Absolutely. I would love that.

Yeah. Okay. So I used to think that the most valuable impact someone could have on your career is to help you up the ladder. And I was wrong. Some also show you that the ladder isn’t up, but sideways and quickly. Some show you that up can also be down some support and encourage the climb. Some carry you on their shoulders until you find your footing again. Some teach you that the up is subjective and intrinsic, some role model and show you a different kind of up some mentor and sponsor your up. Some show you that there’s value in stillness as well as movement. Some show you that it’s not about the ladder at all. And some remind you that laughter enjoying the journey is just as important. And while a few do, pull the ladder up behind them, luckily that’s the few rather than the sum. And reflecting on those that have had the most life changing impact on me, it’s often been those that have shown me rungs on the ladder that I didn’t even know existed.

Amazing. I I love that. And as, as you were saying it, I was running through in my own mind with people that I put into each of those s Oh yeah. I was totally like, you could like map the leaders in my life as well to to tho to those areas. And, and you’re right, fortunately it is only the few that take the ladder with them and with seeing so many more now that are reaching back down and, and helping people. And I loved the whole showing you the rungs that you didn’t even know existed. That totally resonated because we sometimes miss that, don’t we? We don’t, we don’t know what we don’t know. And having leaders who are willing to share with us the things that we can’t see to help us to get there are the ones that probably have the most lasting impact on us. Amanda, it has been an absolute privilege and a joy to chat with you again, thank you so very much for coming on and sharing your insight with me and with our audience. We really appreciate you.

Thank you very much for having me today.

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