Women of Experian: Laurie Jerome

As the world celebrates International Women’s Day on March 8, we want to shine a light on a few of the female leaders who shape, inspire and grow Experian. From sales to strategy, to people management, big data and beyond, women are a driving force in every industry – and their stories deserve to be told. Throughout the week, meet some of the “Women of Experian.”

Today, we feature Laurie Jerome, an executive leading Experian’s initiatives around talent, diversity and inclusion. Learn about her career journey, learnings and sources of inspiration as it pertains to leadership.

What do you do at Experian? What’s a typical day like for you? 

I lead all talent initiatives across North America, (6,000 employees located across 24 offices and over 900 remote workers). In addition, it’s critical that we partner with our global talent teams for alignment and integration of brand, culture, leadership and succession management. In very simple terms, we are here to create a great employee experience and provide leaders with the tools, training and resources to do just that. The overall outcome is to ensure our workforce is engaged and retained.

How do you motivate yourself and stay motivated?

I have a motto that “If you love what you do, then you’ll never have to work a day in your life.” I found my niche early on and although I can’t say that every day I get to do what I love, I balance my day with networking, workouts and family. Work-life integration is so important for anyone who works full time. My days are full, but if they include some of those balanced elements then I feel fulfilled. One of my favorite things to do is pay it forward to others who are growing their career. I have several mentees and find so much joy in giving back and learning from them. I think it’s become more real to me now having two sons (one a recent grad and one in his second year at UCLA). With such a competitive environment for candidates and employers, I find it so rewarding to help others navigate their way.

What are the most important values you demonstrate as a leader?

I would have to say life-long learning no matter where you are in your career. With that comes humility and transparency in sharing what you know, and probably most importantly being vulnerable and confident enough to share what you don’t. I love to surround myself with others who bring very different skills, values and experiences to the team. It truly requires time and attention to ensure your team has a strong understanding of one another and values such differences. My team meets every other week and although some are virtual and in other locations, I insist on using video conference to keep us visually in touch and connected. There’s something about being present that matters. Oh, and speaking of presence, another important value I have is being available to my team and others no matter how busy I am. Well, I think I went over the request of providing the MOST important however they are all so related.

What are some patterns you’ve noticed over the years about women at work, and things they could be doing better to advance their careers?

The topic of mentoring comes up quite often. Everyone is looking for someone they can turn to and seek advice and council with on a range of topics. I think it’s great, but one piece of advice I give to those I’ve mentored is to find someone very different than yourself and capitalize on what they offer that you need. In some cases, it’s a male perspective. Like it or not, we see things through such a different lens and having that view can be very advantageous and insightful. Discover your gaps and find someone who demonstrates them well.

Do you have a sponsor? Instead of selecting someone who can mentor and coach, find someone who can open doors for you and sponsor stretch assignments and new opportunities. Caveat… be prepared to be challenged and perform. It’s not for the weak of heart.

I’ve always been an avid networker. It comes more natural to me. I’ve been told I have a “black belt” in networking. Women have traditionally been expected to devote more time to family and domestic responsibilities, thus lacking as much time as men to build networks. We’re starting to see more women networking. To be truly competitive in the networking arena, women may have to put more time into making contacts — and may have to ask their partners to take on a bigger share in juggling family life and work. Networking events are hard to juggle outside of work, but there are many more ways to view a network. Think about your gym buddies, those alumni groups, that stranger on the flight heading to another business meeting. You’ve got to get creative and get out of your comfort zone. And the greatest thing about networking is that it always has a mutually beneficial outcome. Go into it with a giving mindset and you’ll get so much out of it as well.

Favorite authors/books?