"Great leaders are self-aware and recognise the need to surround themselves with good people who complement their own skills" - Purpose HR CEO Lisa Thompson tells BQ about her journey and how Scotland House has supported her business.
What is it your company does, and what makes it special?
Purpose HR provides commercial, pragmatic and effective HR advice and practical support to early stage and high growth investor backed businesses through hands-on and commercially focused HR consultancy outsourcing. We have a niche focus on the life sciences and technology sectors.
We are highly skilled and experienced in helping businesses with employment law compliance and navigating the procedural requirements of starting up businesses or subsidiaries employing people within the UK.
Our clients benefit from putting simple and effective structures in place and having easy access to HR expertise when required at as early a stage as possible in the organisation’s development, without the fixed expense and overhead of hiring an in-house HR function.
Our clients include high growth and innovative technology and life sciences start-ups within the portfolios of leading angel syndicates and investors across the UK.
Our delivery team encompass a wide range of experience across HR and employment law compliance, organisational development, recruitment and talent acquisition, learning and development and executive and management coaching specialisms, with a niche and targeted focus on start-up and high growth businesses.
How do you feel your business is ‘representative’ of Scotland?
Scotland has a vibrant entrepreneurial ecosystem and innovative, fast-growing technology sector which Purpose HR is fully engaged with and focussed on supporting. Purpose HR is proud to work with some of the most innovative and high growth investor backed businesses across the technology, engineering and life sciences sectors in Scotland.
Describe your role in no more than 100 words
As founder and managing director of Purpose HR, Lisa establishes HR functions and people management and development frameworks within high-growth, entrepreneurial technology companies.
Lisa supports business leaders and managers with business growth and the associated people and organisational challenges. As a business coach, Lisa specialises in working with technical, creative and entrepreneurial people supporting their personal and soft skills development. This is balanced with a pragmatic and highly commercial approach developed in SME and start-up environments.
Give us a brief timeline of your career so far – where did you start, how did you progress?
Lisa started her HR career with Wolfson Microelectronics, a university spin-out semiconductor engineering business which grew to a global business post-IPO. She then worked for a privately-owned global helpdesk software technology company with 250 staff, then moving on to support the growth of a healthcare technology and services company from inception to post-investment commercialisation. Since founding Purpose in 2014, Lisa and her team have provided high quality HR consultancy support to founders, investors and executives across their client base of high growth, innovative early stage clients in technology, engineering and life sciences sectors.
Where do you see the company in five years’ time?
We are currently a team of 5, and in the next 5 years we see the potential to triple this growth and additionally to ramp up our activities and revenue growth through digital channels.
What do you believe makes a great leader?
Great leaders are self-aware and recognise the need to surround themselves with good people who complement their own skills and to empower and let those people thrive.
What has been your biggest challenge in your current position?
When I initially founded the business, I personally delivered HR consultancy services to all our clients and our business reputation was founded on me personally. As we have grown, I have transitioned to leading, supporting and developing a high performing team to support our growing client base. This has been both incredibly challenging and equally rewarding, and I have learned a huge amount.
How do you alleviate the stress that comes with your job?
It is important to spend time with like-minded peers who are at similar stages in their business growth journey and can relate, as growing a business can be a hard and lonely place. Equally, it is key to remember to switch off and spend time on yourself and with family and friends. I try to remind myself that as I am key to the success of my business, I need to invest in and support my own development and well-being, including taking time out to recharge and refresh.
What advice would you give to an aspiring business leader?
Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Seek out potential business mentors and talk to them and ask if there are areas in which they could help you. People are often flattered and happy to help if they can. Also, don’t be too hard on yourself. It’s unlikely that you'll get it right first time, but building a business is a process of learning and you will iterate and develop your ideas as your business grows.
What do you wish someone had told you when you started out?
Just START and see what happens as you grow. Don’t spend too much time working on your business plan – it is important but not as important as going out and testing your assumptions with potential paying clients. As soon as you start, you have both a point of reference and can keep developing and iterating your value proposition and offering.
How and why did you become involved in Scotland House?
I was very lucky to be offered a membership as part of our Unlocking Ambition support package via Scottish Enterprise following our London market visit in November 2018.
How has your Scotland House membership enhanced your business?
It has opened my eyes to the huge potential of the London market as well as opportunities to grow my business and work with more early stage and high growth clients outside of Scotland.
Describe the three biggest benefits of being a member.
Easy and flexible access.
What would you say to a Scottish business considering membership?
Sign up now – what can you lose?!
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