What does your job involve in a nutshell?
I am a business psychologist and senior partner at RHR international LLP. In that role, I give leaders the tools to improve their performance through behaviour. As Head of our Teams practice, I have a particular interest in helping teams of people work together to create solutions and make better decisions. I love the feeling that is created when people are all moving in the same direction to achieve a common goal. In a nutshell, my clients learn how to show up as their best selves and become better leaders for their team.
What is your typical working day and has it changed after covid?
Typically, half of my working day is spent helping clients and the other half is spent internally, shaping our firm and creating new ways to best serve our market. Usually this is a combination of virtual and real time interaction. My only constant is that I must start my day with a cup of coffee and at some point, in the day a run or a walk with the dog is needed to keep my energy levels up. My working day has changed very much since covid. I now travel a lot less, which has allowed me to spend more time with my family. I am grateful for the chance we get to sit and have dinner together every week night so that we can reconnect and see how everyone is doing . It has also made me much more grateful for the times I do get to travel. Instead of seeing getting on a plane as a chore, I see it as an opportunity to recharge.
What is your motto for leadership?
to be the best versions of themselves, rather than try and be someone they’re not. For women especially, there is so much pressure to be someone or something they aren’t, so it is important to remember that the best thing to be is yourself.
What is your go-to work style?
I will always favour a trouser suit. I like to look smart, but comfort is also important to me. It feels more natural for me to be in trousers than a dress.
What is the one piece of career advice you would give your 20-year-old self?
Worry less about what others think of you. In thirty years’ time, you will look around and see yourself surrounded by other female leaders, not just middle aged men. I would also reassure her that she will eventually find her tribe and a place she will fit in.
What is your worst office fashion faux pas?
I once wore this terrible, Hillary Clinton-style suit. Don’t get me wrong, it looked great on Hillary but not on me. I was attending a meeting with lots of older men and felt like I had to dress like them. Though it wasn’t awful to look at, the fit and fabric were just terrible. It was the most uncomfortable thing I’ve ever worn. There was also this cerise pink mohair jumper, which I only wore once. I think these two experiences made me a bit more conscious about what I wear in the office and how it makes me feel.
How many hours of sleep do you get?
I am pretty good at sleeping, so I get between seven and eight hours a night. I believe if you neglect your sleep, nothing else works. I am a nightmare if I don’t sleep, so that bit of self-care is very important. With phones and technology, people are forgetting how to fall asleep. It is really hard to switch off.
What's your fantasy alternative job?
If I hadn’t become a psychologist, I would have become a journalist. I also have this fantasy about living in the Far East and running a rescue dog shelter. I would probably be terrible at it, but I just love dogs!
Netflix or BBC?
Running or Yoga?
Running, definitely. Yoga, me, and the ‘flow’ just doesn’t work. I’ve tried, but I need to be red and sweaty.
Work from home or office?
Work from home, because of the flexibility and my family. Zoom has enabled me to work closely with my international colleagues. Before, I would have to be on-site in New York or Atlanta. It is also about connection though, not just about being at home.
Heels or flats?
Flats. I need something where I can easily run away, which is a primal instinct I’ve had since being a kid. Danger? Trouble? I can go!
Sun or snow?
I am not great with either so a wet forest would be more my cup of tea. I burn easily, but being near the sea is important to me. So, sun if I’ve got my factor 90!
Orla is photographed above with Libby. When women support each other, brilliant things happen.
Photographer: Olivia Bossert