Leaders Need to Step Up - Susanna V. Kempe

In the first episode of The Good Leader Podcast Nikol talks to the CEO of the Laidlaw Foundation and Chair of Laidlaw Schools Trust - Susanna V. Kempe - about her remarkable journey to success, gender bias in the workplace, and the bravest thing she has ever done.

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Description: 

This week Nikol talks to the CEO of the Laidlaw Foundation and Chair of Laidlaw Schools Trust - Susanna V. Kempe - about her remarkable leadership journey, gender bias in the workplace, and the bravest thing she has ever done. 

Susanna started as a Marketing Assistant at Lord Laidlaw's former company - Institute for International Research - and left it as Chief Marketing Officer. She was the CEO of Emap Networks, WGSN, CMO of several organisations, and founded her own business before turning to philanthropy and education. 

Send us your thoughts at contact@laidlawfoundation.com

Transcript:

NIKOL CHEN: From the Laidlaw Foundation, I’m Nikol Chen and this is The Good Leader - a podcast in which we learn important leadership lessons from remarkable individuals in all sorts of fields, and explore the journeys of up and coming next generation leaders, otherwise known as our Laidlaw Scholars. 

Our first season is all about the ins & outs of navigating the world of leadership as a woman. In today’s episode I am going to talk to someone whose CV is overflowing with C-suite titles: Chief Marketing Officer, Chief Executive Officer, Chairwoman, Partner, Founder. She has done and seen it all - from producing conferences, to leading an online trend and fashion forecasting company, to starting her own consulting business, and more recently turning to philanthropy and education. 

She also happens to be my boss. 

Today I am delighted to welcome Susanna Kempe - the CEO of the Laidlaw Foundation and Chair of Laidlaw Schools Trust. Susanna started her career working for Lord Laidlaw and is now heading the Laidlaw Foundation on its mission to break the cycle of poverty, reduce inequality and develop a new generation of leaders by investing in the education of the underprivileged and underrepresented.

You will hear Susanna share her story of rising from Marketing Assistant to Chief Marketing Officer, advising what to do when faced with gender bias at work, and discuss why it is absolutely critical to lead with integrity and how to do it.

Before we begin, just a quick note that you can find the transcript of this episode, further reading suggestions and a list of references on the Laidlaw Scholars Network.

Here’s Susanna. 

NIKOL CHEN: Hi Susanna, welcome to our podcast. This month is your 1-year anniversary at  the Laidlaw Foundation – so how are you finding it so far? 

SUSANNA V. KEMPE: That’s a great question. It has been inspiring, heart-breaking, illuminating, infuriating, humbling, and incredibly rewarding. All wrapped-up together.

NIKOL CHEN: And what would you say is the most rewarding thing about what you do right now?

SUSANNA V. KEMPE: Oh, without question, it’s the people I meet. So, it’s our teachers, our scholars, the faculty, the academics. So, I am now working with people who are putting everything – all of their energy, their heart, their souls trying to make the world a better place, which I know sounds trite but when you come from business where the focus is all about profit, it is a completely different world and it is so rewarding to be a part of it.

NIKOL CHEN: Susanna has held many positions of leadership in her life, she was the CEO of Emap Networks and Chief Marketing and Strategy Officer of Emap Ltd, now Ascential; CEO of a world leading trend forecasting company called WGSN, Chief Marketing Officer of several organisations and even founded her own company, Flying Trumpets.

Susanna started her career at the Institute for International Research, which was Lord Laidlaw’s business, when she was 22 as a Marketing Assistant and left that company as Chief Marketing Officer. I asked her to recall how she made her way to the top in that company.

SUSANNA V. KEMPE: Sure, it was my first job out of university, I don’t really know what I wanted to do except that I wanted to be in marketing. So, I fell into this amazing business, IIR, started as Marketing Assistant, was quickly promoted to Marketing Manager, then I was offered the role as a Conference Producer. From there, I was actually headhunted by another company called Centaur to set up their conference business and that experience was one of the great learning points in my life about when you are in the wrong place, go back to the right place, so I went back to IIR. 

There, I became Head of Marketing for Seminar Centre which was a division of IIR. Then I was the Vice President of Marketing at American Institute, which was another IIR-owned company, then Head of Group Training, then Irvine bought a company in California, and I was 29 years old, it was completely hysterical – he said to me “I want you to go run it.” It was on employment law training, which I knew absolutely nothing about, but I was young and enthusiastic and had no idea how ridiculous it was that I was going to run the business. But, I did – off I went and did that. Then I came back to the Head Office as Chief Marketing Officer, and I did that for the last 6 years of my career at IIR before we sold the business to Informa.

NIKOL CHEN: Susanna stayed at IIR for 17 years until it was sold in 2005. As it turns out, Lord Laidlaw had a special strategy for advancing and holding onto rising stars like Susanna in his business. And it worked.

SUSANNA V. KEMPE: Irvine had this great concept that you should always promote people 6 months before they are ready. 

So, that way they never have time to be bored. Probably once in my entire 17 years at IIR there was a moment when I thought “I think I’m ready to do something else.” And then just at that point, he called me up and said “I want to buy a tonne of training companies and I want you to lead the acquisitions. I’ve never done that in my life before, so, all of a sudden, I was thrown into this exciting new thing, so that was it. I was always being pushed to do new things, that I’ve never done before, which challenged me. 

NIKOL CHEN: So, IIR is Lord Laidlaw’s business…

SUSANNA V. KEMPE: Yep.

NIKOL CHEN: And actually one thing you said to him while you were there was that, and I quote: “You were literally decades ahead of your time in not caring a jot about gender, religion, sexual orientation or colour in your hiring and promotions.” Could you talk a bit more about that?

SUSANNA V. KEMPE: Yes, and I said that to him after I had moved ages and ages later to a company that was completely the opposite, and I was so genuinely shocked because I had worked for IIR, then I worked at Informa, which when I went there was run jointly by David Gilbertson and Peter Rigby. And then David went to Emap and I followed him there and he, just like Lord Laidlaw, promoted as many women as men, had a completely equal leadership team. So, suddenly being somewhere that wasn’t like that and where the glass ceiling and misogyny were so apparent, I suddenly experienced what so many of my friends had been talking about, which was just a world that was inherently biased.

NIKOL CHEN: So, do you remember any specific examples of when you faced misogyny or injustice in the workplace? 

SUSANNA V. KEMPE: I can give you an example of a great friend of mine where she was in a meeting, in a professional services firm and they were talking about why they had a gender pay gap. And realised it wasn’t at the director level, it was because there were far fewer female partners than male partners. Big discussion happened and a lot of the men were mansplaining what the problem was and saying that the women directors in the partnership application process were not confident enough, not ambitious enough, and what they really needed to do was help those women be more confident.

NIKOL CHEN: A lack of confidence. How many times have you heard that as the explanation of why we don’t see as many women in senior leadership positions as men? You just have to lean in, work hard, be more assertive. It’s all down to their personal responsibility and acting just right to make it. It’s not like there are any structural problems that are preventing women from advancing in their career, right? Well, Susanna’s friend was having none of that. 

SUSANNA V. KEMPE: So, she is head of a global practice within this company and she is also a former US government vice CIA. So she is a properly kickass woman. So, she started by saying “I think we can all agree that I am pretty confident.” And, of course, everybody sort of nodded and said “yes, absolutely”, and then she said “I’m also a woman. I’m small. And I’m brown”, at which point people were beginning to be slightly less comfortable. And she said “I want to talk to everyone about the situation that just occurred”. And she said “Recently, a fellow partner”, and she said “he’s not in the room, so please don’t start looking around, trying to work out who it is”, “he came to me and said his client had had a crisis”, in the area in which she headed the practice, “which, for avoidance of the embarrassment I’m not going to say specifically which one it was.” Um, and he asked for her help so she said “Of course, I’ll get my coat and we’ll go right away”, this was, you know, a full on crisis which needed her expertise. And the partner said “Oh, no, can you just tell me what to tell them?”, and she said “Well, I can but this really needs proper intervention and support, why don’t I come with you?” and he said “I just…the very establishment, I’m just not sure that they would be comfortable with you.” And she went on to say to this group of partners “Look, I don’t know whether it was because I’m a woman or because I’m brown or because I’m American and this was an English environment, as in in the UK, and she didn’t know. But she did know that the partner was facilitating her not going. So her point which was just so brilliantly made was that sometimes we think that we’re open minded when we’re really not. And also, if there are women directors who may not be getting the opportunity to be in front of clients because there were other partners who were behaving in the same way then maybe that was another reason. So, if we make judgements based on what we perceive to be the issue, rather than really understanding the bias, that’s a massive problem. So, I thought that was an illuminating and slightly horrifying story. 

NIKOL CHEN: Susanna is touching on a very important point when it comes to figuring out the issue of hitting the glass ceiling in the workplace. Intersectionality. I briefly mentioned the concept of leaning in, which was of course coined and popularised by Facebook’s COO Sheryl Sandberg. Her main message is that every woman can advance in her career if she just has enough courage and perseverance. However, Sandberg failed to take into account important factors such as race, sexuality, and class, which promotes a rather simplistic idea of feminism and completely ignores the major issue of systemic inequality. If you’re interested in exploring this more, I would recommend reading an excellent critical essay by bell hooks called Dig Deep: Beyond Lean In. 

Okay, what if you’re in a position at the moment where you think you’re facing gender bias? And if you are a woman leader in a position of power, what can do you to help? Back to Susanna. 

NIKOL CHEN: And what advice would you give to someone who feels like they keep hitting the glass ceiling in the workplace and keep facing gender bias in their career?

SUSANNA V. KEMPE: When they are in a position where they can’t do anything about it, move. There are businesses out there which are run by enlightened people, smart people, the data is all there. It is the most commercially insane thing in the world not to have a gender balanced senior leadership team. An everything balanced senior leadership team. So, if you are in an environment where you are constantly hitting gender bias, just don’t stay there. Go work for someone who will recognise and reward you. Or set up your own business.

If you are in the position where you can do something about it, then you have a responsibility to make the change. I love that there’s a Madeleine Albright quote where she talks about that there’s special place in hell for women who don’t support other women, and I am so with that. So, I think, do something about it if you can, and if you can’t, they don’t deserve you, go somewhere better.

NIKOL CHEN: And actually, for the people who are in a leadership position at the moment, what do you think are some practical things that they can do to encourage gender equality and inclusion in the workspace?

SUSANNA V. KEMPE: Yeah, I’m really glad you asked that because there is so much talk about it, there are headhunters who constantly produce white papers about it; senior leaders talk about that they put in place women leadership programmes within their corporation and etc. and you know what? It is all completely ridiculous, unless they act more than they talk. Right? So, the next time a headhunter says “Here are our findings on women in leadership roles”, they need to say “And we also will refuse to work with any client who won’t have a gender-balanced shortlist that we present to them.” 

So, I think it’s about doing the right thing, not just talking about it, and more specifically have gender-blind applications for new recruits. So, on the CV’s – no names. Absolutely have pay parity – there are no excuses. There is absolutely no reason why man and woman doing the same role should not be paid the same. Just get over it, no more excuses. If your senior leadership team is not balanced, then make it balanced and again, if you are in the position where it isn’t at the moment, fine, you might need to do some work on getting it balanced, but give yourself a year. That’s it. You don’t need more than that. So, stop saying it’s something that we are planning or thinking about, all the excuses. Put in place a plan, and make it happen. And then the last one I would say is if you find that your promotion criteria internally means that you are promoting more men than women, look at the criteria again, and I mention that because there are lots of partnerships, particularly in professional services and consulting, those sort of areas, where at a director level there are equal numbers of men and women, and the pay is pretty equal, and at partner level, all of a sudden, there is a massive disparity. It’s not because there are fewer women directors who are performing, it’s because of the way they look at partnerships.

NIKOL CHEN: Recently Susanna published a post describing the top 10 top ways business leaders can break the glass ceiling in the workplace. She also created a checklist that leaders can use to ensure that they are doing their best to help women advance in leadership. 

You might notice that in Susanna’s post and checklist she states that companies should put in place a 5 year plan rather than a 1 year plan which is what she said in the interview. This is because upon reflection Susanna realised that some industries may need longer to ensure pay parity across their organisation, such as industries with strong senior retention and historically fewer female recruits.

So if you are a business leader looking for concrete ways to tackle the issue of gender equality in the workplace, look for further - Susanna’s here for it. You can access both of these by visiting the Laidlaw Scholars Network. 

Coming up, Susanna tells us about the bravest thing she’s ever done. That’s after the break.

[BREAK]

NIKOL CHEN: Welcome back to the Good Leader and my conversation with the CEO of the Laidlaw Foundation, Susanna Kempe. Let’s get back into it.

NIKOL CHEN: So, brave, determined, those are some of our values, another value is extraordinary. And what do you think is your most extraordinary achievement to date?

SUSANNA V. KEMPE: Oh, you do ask good hard questions. Umm..The thing I’m definitely proudest of are the women that I have hired or identified as rising stars and then scooped up and trained and developed them. I see women in leadership roles now who I knew in their early 20’s, who are fantastic leaders. So, people like Isobel Peck who is the CMO at Informa, Kelly Walls who is the executive direction at the Guardian Foundation, Lorna Charlish who runs Digital Radish - her own business. These are all just phenomenal women leaders and I hope I had a part in developing them and mentoring them.

NIKOL CHEN: And, so, while you were at Brunswick Group, as Group Content and Marketing Partner, one of your team’s findings was that only 37% of people you questioned regard businesses as honest and trustworthy. Why do you think that’s so low and how can we change that?

SUSANNA V. KEMPE: I think it’s quite right that people should distrust businesses that behave badly, right? There are too many businesses that are knowingly doing the wrong thing. So, Starbucks packing their drinks full of sugar, is disgraceful. There’s Facebook. Facebook who have been so appalling in terms of knowingly allowing people to say things that aren’t true. It has impacted elections, it’s just wrong. It’s absolutely wrong. And they’re not stepping up and doing anything about it. And even people like the Guardian who campaign - actively campaign - against Facebook and who did brilliant investigative journalism around Cambridge Analytica and so on, then give money to Facebook. Because they are sponsoring content on Facebook. So, if business is going to be deceitful, put profit above people’s health, be hypocritical, then why should people trust it?

NIKOL CHEN: And how do you think we can change that?

SUSANNA V. KEMPE: Leaders need to step up. Right? For a start, it always backfires. So, from a commercial perspective, being unethical is a ridiculous thing to do. You look at VW, you look at Enron, now even look at Ted Baker, every company that behaves unethically ultimately is damaged by it. So, commercially it’s the wrong thing to do. But also, just be decent proper people. Pay your taxes. Treat your staff and your clients well. It’s really not complicated, people should just get on and do it. 

NIKOL CHEN: One thing you also said is that we need people who lead with integrity, those who never prioritize their own leadership ambition over what is right. I wanted to ask you, do you think that it is possible to achieve both at the same time? And how can people understand whether they are prioritising their own leadership ambition over what is right?

SUSANNA V. KEMPE: We see instances all over the world, in history, and even recent history of people who do both those things. Look at Nelson Mandela, look at Barack Obama, there are amazing leaders in the world who have demonstrated categorically that you can do the right thing and be highly successful. I think that it goes wrong somewhere when people just take one step over the line and then suddenly a bigger step, and then it snowballs and then they are in a big fat mess and don’t know how to get out of it. We were talking the other day – I don’t think any graduate leaves university, thinking “I know, I will be successful by being unethical and doing the wrong thing. So, I think that it’s about self-awareness. About making sure that you don’t cross the line. And a really easy test, which someone told me years ago and I think it’s a perfect one is if you think “I could not explain why I’ve done this to my 7-year-old child” because they have a great sense of right and wrong, don’t they? Children know. They understand fairness, they absolutely get right and wrong. So, if you can’t explain what you’ve done to a child, godchild, random child on the street that you meet, then you’re probably doing the wrong thing. 

NIKOL CHEN: When it comes to the concept of a slippery slope, we can refer to the story of Cynthia Cooper, a whistleblower at a company called WorldCom. Cooper wrote a book called Extraordinary Circumstances: The Journey of a Corporate Whistleblower in which she outlines how her team of auditors secretly investigated a $3.8 billion in fraud at WorldCom. If you’re anything like me and you’re wondering how is the world can it get that far, here is what happens in cases like this, according to Cynthia and her experience at WorldCom: so, the company finds itself in a sticky situation, say, there is an unexpected shortfall in quarterly profit numbers. Then a respected and impressive boss says to their team “You know, why don’t we just sweep this under the rug and make it go away if you know what I mean? It’s not fraud or anything, don’t get me wrong, just a, you know, a short term bridge loan that will be settled next quarter.” So the accountant thinks “Hmm..this sounds quite fishy and I am obviously a decent honest human being so the right thing to do is to resign..but on the other hand... it’s a good company and  I don’t know if I can find another job like this. Alright, just this once but this is the first and the last time!” Next quarter comes and...it’s still not looking great, so they do it again. And again. And again. And then...in the words of the great Cornelius Brothers & Sister Rose - it’s too late to turn back now. Because if they come clean now - everyone’s going to know that they cheated and moreover, LIED to cover it up. And then, one day they wake up and realise OH MY GOD WE HAVE COMMITTED FRAUD WORTH ALMOST 4 BILLION DOLLARS, AND I CAN’T EXPLAIN THIS TO A 7 YEAR OLD CHILD WHICH IS HOW I DEFINITELY KNOW IT’S WRONG. And that’s it. If you’re interested in exploring more, check out Cynthia Cooper’s book. Back to the interview. 

NIKOL CHEN:  And in a blogpost you wrote you say that “experiencing and appreciating different cultures promotes better global understanding, creativity and leadership” and that “diversity should be a societal imperative and a critical component of commercial success.” There seems to be a lot of evidence that diversity and gender equality are vital for profitability and for making businesses successful, so why do you think that despite this abundance of evidence, we still continue to face a lack of gender parity and diversity in the workplace?

SUSANNA V. KEMPE: It’s such a good question and it’s so frustrating, right? We are going to do some more research into it, and try to understand where the bias is because a lot of the reasons given are nonsense. If one more person says to me “If women would just be a little braver or a little more confident, then it would all be fine.”  Because the only people who say that are businesses where they are not promoting women. Never once when I was at Emap or at IIR did I hear that message. We just promoted the best people, and half of them happened to be women. So, the businesses that say that t end to be the ones where they’re not doing it. So, I think we do have to help firms recognise their own internal biases and recognise that they are very often looking to promote carbon copies of themselves. And because it is easier. There are studies at business schools where people are so used to associating men as leaders that they are more sceptical – and women the same – of women leaders. So, they did a whole project looking at how people’s confidence, or how they would rate a startup idea. And people were more willing to give men the money than women, even though this was a test so, everything was exactly the same except for their gender. So, I think we do have some education work to do. I also think we…and it’s probably I have a responsibility to do this, other women have a responsibility to do this, is to call out bad behaviour when we see it. I did a while ago, send an email to the CEO of a FTSE 100 company who I happen to know because he had done a restructure and he had either made redundant or demoted all of his senior women. And in their place, he put men. And I said to him “I’m sure you didn’t do it intentionally.” And I genuinely don’t think he did because he is a perfectly nice man but somehow the unintentional consequences of his actions were that a company that had been very diverse suddenly became completely stereotypically male pale and stale. And his answer to me was “Well, I did look for people and I specifically said to the headhunters I wanted some women but we couldn’t find any.” And that’s just not OK. Because there are some amazing, amazing women out there who would have been perfect, including, frankly, some of the women whom he demoted. So, I think it’s do better but help people also understand where their bias is coming from, because I can guarantee he did not believe that he was doing the wrong thing. 

NIKOL CHEN: And actually, I remember you saying that one of your favourite excuses for not having a gender equal board was that “All the good women were taken” and um, I’m just wondering who is that good woman that everyone wants on their board and what is this magical combination of traits that male leaders are looking for?

SUSANNA V. KEMPE: So, the people who say that and actually it was an answer Irvine was given specifically when he was talking  to some of his friends, his peers, and saying “I don’t really understand - I had all these amazing women on my senior leadership team, why don’t you have more women?” Because we were trying to get to the bottom of the issue so that we could fix it. So, when he was given that answer, of course he just laughed because there isn’t just some finite number of women. But I think if you are a chairman of a board, and maybe you haven’t had the experience of working with women, then you may be risk-averse. People find diverse teams much harder to work within. And that’s true whether it’s a group of men or a group of women or people with the same religious outlook or ethnicity. People are more comfortable with conformity. So, you actually have to be a bit brave to say “No, I want dissenting views”. Um, boards are the same if they are staffed with everybody who went to the same two public schools. They have the same reference points, they can make the same jokes, they know the same people, so it feels safe. So I think what happens with the boards where they say that all the good ones are taken, that is “OK, I know so-and-so, she’s been on that board, and the chairman of that board said “oh she was great”, she didn’t ruffle any feathers, she didn’t cause a problem. So, you have to be willing as a chairman or as a CEO to have people who think differently. The answer to your question, who are these people, um, they may not all be the people I would want on my senior team. I want women who are going to say “But have you thought about it this way?”. One of the greatest things that Irvine said to me, it was slightly terrifying but it was great, was one time we were talking about something, he had some idea, and he then stopped and said to me “Your job is to work out the 50% of my ideas which are brilliant and are going to move the company forward and the 50% that are really wrong and that would damage us and stop me from doing them”. But you have to have people who want that, not just people who say “Yes, you’re fabulous”.

NIKOL CHEN: Susanna also told me that the comment about people finding it difficult to work in diverse team came from a conversation she had with the Senior Vice Dean and Paul Calello Professor of Leadership and Ethics at Columbia Business School, Katherine Phillips. Katherine also gave her a book called the Diversity Bonus by Scott E. Page, so, if you’re interested..you should know where to go by now [whispers] The Laidlaw Scholars Network.

NIKOL CHEN: So, you’ve actually also hired and let go of people quite a lot throughout your life. 

SUSANNA V. KEMPE: [laughs] Not so much of the letting go but yes, I have.

NIKOL CHEN: So, I just wanted to ask you for some career advice for scholars who are currently looking for jobs, or will soon start looking for jobs and starting their own careers. As an employer, what do you look for in potential hires and which qualities would make you instantly reject someone? 

SUSANNA V. KEMPE: Irvine used to say to me that he hired or his best people were hires who were neurotic perfectionists. Now, I don’t know if I would go quite to that extreme, but I definitely look for people who are passionate about what they do and care. Care fervently about doing something as well as they possibly can, people who are eager to learn, who are curious, who would do what it takes, right? So, people who are slapdash, who think they already have all the answers, those aren’t the people I would hire. I’ve said this to you before but it’s always for me about hiring very smart people with amazing character because you can teach people skills but you can’t teach people character. 

NIKOL CHEN: During your presentation at CBS this year, you told a story about how while you were at the Institute of International Research, working for Lord Laidlaw, one of your managers thought that she was going to win the Global Manager of Year Award, she was certain, but she did not end up winning it. And when she asked Lord Laidlaw why that is, he said that because that everything that she touched was successful. And he told her that it meant that she wasn’t trying hard enough and a big part of being a successful manager is taking risks. “To reap the rewards, you have to be brave, you have to make mistakes and learn from failure”. And, being brave and taking risks is actually one of our Laidlaw Scholar values, so I just wanted to ask you – what is the bravest thing that you have done in your life?

SUSANNA V. KEMPE: Oh gosh, um, you know I’m not sure that I have been terribly brave, umm, I’ve been incredibly fortunate, mainly I’ve just had to say ‘yes’ when people have offered me things. So, when I was asked if I would like to run that business in California, Irvine offered me on a Friday night, and said the town hall where he would be announcing that I would be the new President, was on a Monday. So, I guess I could have said ‘no’ and said “Oh, can I think about it some more? Or maybe I can finish what I’m doing here, as opposed to doing two things at once,” which is, of course, what I ended up doing. Um, but I’ve always thought, seize the opportunity and say ‘yes’. 

So, from a work perspective, I don’t think I have been terribly brave. If you ask me what’s the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do where it felt like I had to summon sort of every ounce of energy and bravery, if that is the right word, that I had, it probably would be a personal answer. Um, I don’t think I’ve actually told you this, so here you are. So, um, my husband died when he was 40. And I gave a reading at his funeral which is by…it was a quote from Theodore Roosevelt, which is called ‘The Man in the Arena’ and it starts with ‘it’s not the critic that counts’ and doing that, was probably the hardest thing that I have ever done. 

NIKOL CHEN: I asked Susanna if we could record her reading the piece but, understandably, she declined. Instead she suggested a poem called The Road Not Taken by Robert Frost which she read at her father's funeral. Her father was German and met her mother, an American, when he won a place on a foreign exchange programme and spent a year in Vermont, attending Burlington High School.

SUSANNA V. KEMPE:

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,

And sorry I could not travel both

And be one traveler, long I stood

And looked down one as far as I could

To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,

And having perhaps the better claim,

Because it was grassy and wanted wear;

Though as for that the passing there

Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay

In leaves no step had trodden black.

Oh, I kept the first for another day!

Yet knowing how way leads on to way,

I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh

Somewhere ages and ages hence:

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—

I took the one less traveled by,

And that has made all the difference.

NIKOL CHEN: You can connect with Susanna on the Laidlaw Scholars Network, and follow her on Twitter at SVKempe. Follow the Laidlaw Foundation on Twitter and LinkedIn to find out when we release our new podcasts episodes, and if you would like to find out more about our programmes visit laidlawfoundation.com. Once again, you can find all the references, further reading suggestions and the transcript of this episode on the Laidlaw Scholars Network. Our music is by Broke For Free and Tours. Thanks for listening. 


References & further reading: 

Brignall, M., 2016. The cafes serving drinks with 25 teaspoons of sugar per cup. Guardian.co.uk, [blog] 17 February. Available at: <https://www.theguardian.com/business/2016/feb/17/cafe-chains-selling-drinks-25-teaspoons-sugar-starbucks-costa-coffee>

Brooks, A.W., Huang, L., Kearney, S.W., & Murray, F.E., 2014. Investors prefer entrepreneurial ventures pitched by attractive men. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 111(12), pp.4427-4431.

Cooper, C., 2009. Extraordinary Circumstances: The Journey of a Corporate Whistleblower. Hoboken, N.J.: John Wiley & Sons.

Frost, R., Untermeyer, L., 1991. The road not taken: a selection of Robert Frost's poems. New York: H. Holt and Co.

Gibney, E., 2014. Discrimination starts even before grad school, study finds. Nature News Blog, [blog] 25 April. Available at: <http://blogs.nature.com/news/2014/04/discrimination-starts-even-before-grad-school-study-finds.html>

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Go to the profile of Nikol Chen (she/her)

Nikol Chen (she/her)

Marketing & Design, Laidlaw Foundation

Hello! My name is Nikol and I look after the Laidlaw Scholars Network. I am originally from Kazakhstan and I studied Human Sciences at UCL. My final research explored the potential effects of design on patient wellbeing in hospitals, and I also took modules such as Ethnographic Documentary Filmmaking, Anthropology of the Built Environment, Art in the Public Sphere, and other less interesting-sounding things :) Drop me a line at nikol.chen@laidlawfoundation.com if you have any questions about the Network or just fancy a chat. Alternatively, you can use the teal chat bubble in the right bottom corner of your screen and I'll reply ASAP!

4 Comments

Go to the profile of Susanna Kempe
Susanna Kempe 3 months ago

Thanks Nikol for all your incredible hard work launching this. I am in awe of your design and production skills. I can't wait to hear all the next episodes (as opposed to the slightly excruciating experience of listening to mine!) - you have put together an incredible line-up of scholars and women leaders

Go to the profile of Nikol Chen (she/her)
Nikol Chen (she/her) 3 months ago

Thank you so much for sharing your inspiring insights and expertise, Susanna! I am certain our listeners will learn a lot from you about the importance of leading with integrity, and striving for diversity & inclusion in the workplace. Not to mention your exemplary history of committing to the values of being brave and all around extraordinary!

Go to the profile of Nicola Fine
Nicola Fine 3 months ago

This is awesome - well done guys, loved it. Super slick production and inspiring content! Look forward to the next.

Go to the profile of Nikol Chen (she/her)
Nikol Chen (she/her) 3 months ago

Thanks, Nicola! So so glad you enjoyed it.