Liz Dimmock has been working in the fields of consultancy, coaching and mentoring for the last 16 years in businesses ranging from 30 employees to 330,000. Having held both commercial, coaching and leadership roles at IMG, KPMG, HSBC (Global Head of Coaching), and GP Strategies (Managing Partner). In 2012 Liz cycled the entire route of the Tour de France, one week ahead of the men’s race, matching them stage for stage, riding 3,479kms in 21 days. This journey highlighted the inequalities in the sport she loves; the fact that there is no women’s Tour de France (despite the clear physiological ability of women to complete it) was a driving factor in the creation of Moving Ahead.
Moving Ahead currently represents the opportunity to make a difference in a space that needs change, and an opportunity to draw on Liz’s passions, subject-matter expertise and experience. It also represents a fantastic opportunity to bring together this exciting team who are global experts in their respective fields. Welcome Liz, can you introduce yourself to us?
I’m Liz, founder and CEO of Moving Ahead – a social impact organisation dedicated to advancing workplace inclusion and diversity where we’ve just celebrated our sixth birthday. Before becoming a social impact entrepreneur, I worked for 16 years in commercial, coaching and leadership roles at IMG, KPMG, HSBC (Global Head of Coaching) and GP Strategies (Managing Partner). Having been fortunate enough to specialise in structured developmental mentoring, I left the corporate world with a firm belief in the transformative power of mentoring.
I’m also a new mum – having had a beautiful baby Leo in February! When I’m not working, I love being outside paddle boarding with my dog Pickle or cycling – I was the first woman to cycle the entire route of the Tour de France in 2012, strengthening my deeply held belief that diversity and equality benefits women, men, business and society.
What is a typical day like for you at the moment?
One of the things I love about my work is that not one day is ever the same. Days pre-Covid were a mix of being in the office in Henley-on-Thames, plus three days in London at client meetings or events. Fridays were working from home.
However, now the day starts at 6am where I check a few emails and get ready for the day before getting baby Leo up. This is our precious two hours together for feeding and playing, setting us both up for the day. After this, my husband and my Mum take over for the day. He’s also now weaning (which is fun and messy!). Then it’s a day of many digital meetings with my team, clients, and stakeholders – normally ten meets plus 30 minutes for lunch with my husband.
As we are all now navigating through a difficult time post-COVID-19 Lockdown, how are you finding the situation?
Like, everyone, I’ve struggled with the universal lockdown experience, but I do look for the positives. Digital technology has enabled us to connect and adapt as a team creating authentic conversations and connections. I’m really proud of how Moving Ahead adapted and pivoted digitally, and we’ve experienced huge support from clients and partners connecting this way as well. We’re really excited that our Summit Series of events is now run completely digitally, meaning they’re truly inclusive on a global scale. This is the same as our large cross-company programme with thousands of mentors and mentees working together across the world. Not travelling into London multiple times a week has meant I’ve been able to spend time with baby Leo, plus my parents are shielding with us so seeing Leo grow with his grandparents has been something to treasure.
Who is the most influential female entrepreneur that you admire and why?
Across my career, I’ve been incredibly lucky to meet many different entrepreneurs. Through the work Moving Ahead does with the Founders Forwards Mentoring Programme for J.P Morgan and the Santander Breakthrough Women Business Leaders’ Mentoring Programme, we continually work with inspiring female entrepreneurs.
What is a solid tip that can help other young female entrepreneurs looking to build their own business?
I have three!
- Mentoring – definitely find a mentor. Mentors have helped me at all stages, from the courage to step into setting up my own business, to helping me process setbacks and learn from them to challenging and guiding me. They’ve introduced me to others, championing me and expanding my network. The power of having someone alongside you to support and listen is so important, and they’ll often see more in you than you see in yourself. As an entrepreneur the road is often bumpy and unclear – and the process of taking time to reflect, plan, consider and acknowledge success is really key. We all need to pull ourselves away from the day to day, so having a mentor ensures you carve the time and space for clear thinking and perspective.
- If you’re working to secure investment – go large. The time, effort, energy, and time to secure investment is a huge undertaking. It’s better to go large, do it once and well, rather than have to circle back for more (with more time investment from you) – go for it, know yours and your business’s worth – and aim high.
- Collaborate. I’m a firm believer in working in partnership with others – those who have the same values and missions as you and collaboration is key
I’d also recommend reading the research which Moving Ahead has just launched into the female entrepreneurial landscape. We know those female entrepreneurs are key to unlocking and boosting our economic recovery. The Advancing Female Entrepreneurship research unpicks the essential steps, providing seven initiatives to activate and accelerate women-led businesses. Read more here and here.
What has been the most challenging yet rewarding barrier you faced and how did overcome it whilst building your career?
Having a baby whilst running a business! This was a step into the great unknown and there were so many questions always present in my mind. When will the business be stable enough for me to have this time? How will I be able to afford it? When is the right time? But having Leo at 42, in year six of the business was a big challenge and it was certainly a very bumpy road with many setbacks and challenges, but I’m so proud to be here embracing shared parenting. Doing this whilst being a CEO is a big achievement for me on so many levels and I also thank my mentors who’ve helped to consider how to do this and, more importantly, how to do this in my way.
Can you tell us which 3 marketing tools are your most preferred and how they support your everyday business functionality?
Earlier this year we launched Microsoft Dynamics with the team, enabling us to stay close and connected to our colleagues, stakeholders, clients, mentors and mentees. The marketing team uses Hootsuite across all our platforms and Asana is a great tool for project management.
What support networks do you personally love and can recommend to other aspiring entrepreneurs out there to become part of?
As I spoke about earlier, we’re privileged to work on a mentoring programme for J.P Morgan and Santander, which are run for entrepreneurs. Every time I meet the participants, or read their stories I’m inspired, and what strikes me is just how many of them are social impact entrepreneurs striving to create social impact through their work.
How are you working on your own personal development?
Personal development is a continual journey and process. At the moment I’m having 121 coaching – which is also combined with mentoring – with two mentors Baroness Helena Morrissey, mum of nine, founder of the 30% Club, CEO at 35 of Newton Investment Management, and Michael Cole-Fontayn, former Chairman of BNY Mellon and current Chairman at AFME.
I’m also constantly reading and reflecting. I’ve just finished Me and White Supremacy and How to be an Antiracist, all whilst looking at me, my privilege and ensure that I keep walking in the shoes of others. I want to be an active part of the solution.
How are you looking to grow and expand throughout the rest of the year?
Personally, I’ll continue with everything above. For the business, it’s about continuing to adapt, collaborate and grow. Having a growth mindset and has promoted us to embrace setbacks, focus our attention and see feedback, whilst adapting and growing as individuals and organisations.