Celebrated today, IWD on the 8th March, we sat down with Laura Lancaster VP of Global EV Networks and Partnerships at FLEETCOR to talk about her career as a woman in the workplace, as well as the steps she’s taken to maximise her potential.
I have worked with the fleet industry for more than 10 years now in a variety of commercial roles. In my career I have worked in finance, consultancy, supply chain and various sales and marketing roles before finding the hugely exciting arena of electric vehicles (EVs). The broadness in experience has helped me get to where I am today, and works well in role and industries that are emerging and evolving like in EV.
The EV market is still new and overflowing with opportunity, which means there will be roles available now and in the future as the business roles and structures mature. There are opportunities of all levels and skills; commercial roles such as sales, marketing, contract and procurement; product including digital and app development roles; engineering and installers of charging infrastructure; and those in car manufacturing.
To me, the appeal of the EV industry is that it is future looking and one that will be constantly evolving as technology improves. With this focus on sustainability integral to my job, I’m proud to tell my kids and friends that I’m playing my part.
It is also an industry that is open to collaboration with many stakeholders and businesses willing to work together – I think this mirrors the opportunity for women getting into the industry and matches the natural skills that many women possess. Now is the perfect time to get on board.
For anyone, particularly women, entering the workforce there will be hurdles along the way and challenges to overcome. I have worked in a largely male-dominated industry throughout my career. As many women experience, having children can differentiate men and women in the workforce. For example, time off on maternity and early years with children can slow down your career just as it starts to pick up.
While there are improvements in this area with men being able to share paternity leave and pay, and options for flexible or part time work (as myself and my husband did in the early years), unfortunately I don’t believe it’s as common as it could be, and we can all play our part in making that change happen.
Another hurdle included being involved in endless company restructuring. This brought uncertainty, changes in focus, and changes in roles and organisations. Securing a promotion at this time isn’t easy either. However, these times allow you to broaden you skills, move business or companies, and also showed me the importance of mentors and networks.
And finally, something that I continue to work at is networking and navigating social media, it really does take a certain confidence to put yourself out there.
While it goes without saying that you need to work hard in any role, my key advice I’d give to women out there would be:
Hone your skills: Think about starting broadly and specialising later.
Be prepared to take on new roles: Don’t be afraid to move companies to help build your experience and further your skills.
Networking, networking, networking: You should never underestimate the power of networking for your professional development. It can help you find the right job, close partnerships and sales, plus it keeps your finger on the pulse of your chosen sector.
Mentoring: This works both ways, find a mentor that can help you in your career development. Having that sounding board helped me in my career and also provided the catalyst for me to help my team members.
Passion: This is a little harder to find for many people in the workplace but we should never lose sight of the power that passion plays in our working lives. This could be the role itself or the impact of that role. I love working in the EV industry and playing a key part in the UK’s drive to an electric and sustainable future.
I feel encouraged by the way women are flourishing in the workplace but more can always be done. Networking and mentoring play a powerful role in helping bring other rising stars through the world of work, and once they’re in, then the steps above can empower women to really excel and reach their full potential.