International Women's Day - Interview with Sian Hooper, DLA Piper Hong Kong

Frazer Jones is proud to be supporting International Women's Day 2017. We have interviewed a series of our female clients asking them how they have been bold for change #BeBoldForChange

Frazer Jones interviewed Sian Hooper, Head of HR, DLA Piper Hong Kong

Sian Hooper

Who inspires you and why?
I draw inspiration from a number of people who I am fortunate to have in my personal and professional life. My 4 year old nephew is an invaluable reminder of just how simple life should be - explore new things, be inquisitive, make sure it's fun, and pick yourself up and keep running when you fall! An ethos that we quickly forget as adults….

In the professional context, I have had the opportunity to work with a senior female partner from our Greater China offices, who has recently been awarded Asian Legal Business 2016 Best Female Lawyer in China - an accolade that demonstrates her commitment in delivering the best for her clients. Most inspiring for me is the manner in which she conducts herself and her business - being true to her core values and not conforming to the stereotypical 'successful' behavior that can pervade in a male dominated environment. Having recently been elected to the international board it will be fascinating to see her influence grow. For me she is a great role model for female professionals both inside and outside the legal sector.

What would your advice be to women who are trying to achieve their career ambitions?
It is difficult to give advice without it sounding corny, however for me there are a couple of things that have proven to be very beneficial in achieving my career ambitions:

  • Find a key sponsor who can help to open doors, remove barriers and champion you across your organization.
  • Establish a strong mentoring relationship. The most valuable mentors for me have actually been outside of my HR function and within the business - giving me a commercial and client perspective which has ultimately made me a better HR professional.
  • Develop personal resilience. Undoubtedly, things don't always go the way you would plan - stay resilient and focused and learn not to take things personally.
  • Be opportunistic and don't be afraid to take a risk. Professional and personal opportunities can often present themselves in an unconventional way. Career progression is not always linear, in fact I have found some of my most rewarding and challenging development experiences have been the most left-field ones that usually require you to take a leap of faith and trust your gut instinct.

If senior management within your industry or sector is historically weighted towards males, have you noticed any changes in the last several years?
The legal sector has been slow to respond to the challenges of gender diversity, however, in my view this has started to shift in recent years as increasingly our clients are demanding us to demonstrate our commitment around diversity and inclusion. This has been a great catalyst for moving this topic up the agenda. Here at DLA Piper we have put in place a firm-wide strategy to develop the gender talent pipeline, personally championed by our Senior Managing Partner which is having a tangible impact on female representation in senior management positions. We now have women in leadership roles at all levels within the firm - on our Executive Board, in Country Managing Partner roles and in Office and Location Management roles. Much like many other law firms, there is still work to do - 55% of our lawyers are female; 20% of our partners are female. Addressing the underlying issues and barriers to female progression in this industry will be critical to shifting those statistics however at least we are out of the starting blocks.