Get to know Em Plowman - Talent Bank Associate


Tell us about yourself:

I have worked in the HR profession for 17 years.  It was not a career path that I set myself on deliberately, but a very brilliant Finance Director suggested I might enjoy working in Personnel, as it was then, and he wasn’t wrong.   I have worked across most disciplines within the HR profession in multiple industries and across the world.  I am now working as a freelance HR consultant supporting predominately small private sector/start-up businesses to fulfil their people strategy and deliver on their business strategy.  I also work with larger, more complex organisations to deliver on their organisational development needs and to build cultures where people can truly be themselves and achieve their best work.  I am an advocate for agile working and for organisations to develop newer approaches to the world of work that allow all of us to contribute.


Sector/Industry you work in:

I work across multiple industries and sectors but have significant experience in technology, publishing and pharmaceuticals.  I enjoy working to support the public sector to deliver for communities, and on the commitments they make in challenging times.


Tell us about where you have come from and what has led you to be an associate/consultant EELGA’s Talent Bank:

I enjoyed working within the bigger organisations that I have had the privilege to be a part of.  My daughter came along in 2011 and my desire to travel the world and work long hours diminished as I wanted to be able to spend as much time with her growing up.  During 2019 I made the decision that I wanted to be able to have greater flexibility in my working week and that I wanted to use the experience I had gained to support organisations that might not be able to afford to have a full time HR or OD person.  I also wanted to be able to gain experience outside of the industries I had spent time in and gain some public sector experience.  I enjoy the aspects of serving a communities that come from supporting EELGA members.


What are the most significant challenges relating to Organisational Development posed by Covid:

Many of the challenges that COVID-19 has raised were already challenges for the world of work –  COVID-19 has just accelerated them.  Organisations now look to find ways to produce their best work, but in a way that doesn’t always mean sacrifice.  The challenge is now;

  • Building teams that are agile and self-managing rather than with hierarchical command and control
  • Leading people remotely without losing the sense of purpose and team
  • Developing innovative practices beyond the Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm working week allowing more people to join the workforce and contribute when they can
  • Providing environments that create a world that has no bias and allows difference into our teams
  • Finding people to undertake careers in professions that are seeing a decline and allowing change to mean they can undertake these roles in the way they can be productive
  • Delivering services for our communities where we find continuing social revolution and change

And finally, finding a way that we can continue to deliver on our promises to our customers or communities that doesn’t mean we continuously jump from crisis to crisis but where we have teams that are adaptable and resilient and can deliver consistently.


What advice can you give local authorities to address these challenges:

Don’t lose the unique opportunity you have been given by COVID-19 to accelerate your plans to create a more agile and adaptable workforce.  Take bold steps, fail fast and change what doesn’t work.  Remove hierarchy and embrace the differences you see in your team.  Focus on people and their health, physical and mental, at this time when it is most critical.  Spend some quality time to really review your purpose, your reason for existing and how that impacts how you operate and deliver.  Invite independence into your teams to help you be highly critical (this can be both positive and negative) and make sensible but solid plans to build your future workplaces and workforces.  Make a concerted effort to not go back to 2018 ways of working.


How does the Organisational Development offer influence positive change and results for our members:

The Organisational Development offer that EELGA developed will allow you to design a bespoke package of work with talented Associates to help you reach your vision for the future.  If you undertake a piece of work that really looks at your organisation and how it can be better and bolder for the future and then deliver on the plans this offer can build you will find yourself on the path to a more efficient, resilient and positive organisation that continues to attract the best people to deliver their best work.  Ultimately delivering for the communities that you serve.