Diversity and Inclusion

International Women’s Day 2024: In Conversation with Jane Hardman

As part of our focus on International Women’s Day this year, we interviewed women leaders across our three core markets to learn about their diverse career journeys, and to ask them how organisations

As part of our focus on International Women’s Day 2024, we interviewed women leaders across our three core markets to learn about their diverse career journeys, and to ask them how organisations can attract and retain more talented women into senior, executive and board-level roles.

In this blog series, we are putting the spotlight on each of the women we spoke to who shared their insights and expertise. In this article we’re sharing the conversation Lisa Finney, Senior Partner for Food, Beverages & Ingredients APAC at Proco Group, and Alex Patrick, Chief People Officer at Proco Group, had with Jane Hardman, Senior Executive Leader of Supply Chain.


To start, please talk me through your career to date.

I was brought up in the UK by my British father and Greek mother. My father worked in advertising, and one of my sisters worked in nursing. It was my other sister who studied engineering that really opened the door for me. If you think about inspiring women, from a career path I was really led down that path by my second sister and by my parents who supported all 3 of us to do what we wanted.

I loved maths and interaction with people. I wanted to keep my options open when I saw that there were few women in Engineering, so I chose a double degree in Engineering and Economics business studies.

I did a few work placements while at university, with P&G being the first big company I joined. They ran a course for 25 students across Europe, as they wanted to grow the talent in the engineering organisation in Brussels, Belgium. I met the Head of Engineering, and he personally invited me to join them in Brussels straight after university. There were one or two moments when I had to manage setbacks, but I persevered and loved my time there.

I also worked in Supply Chain roles for Coty Inc and Iron Mountain.


How have you managed balancing your career with being a mother?

Having a supportive husband has definitely helped. He worked with me at P&G, which is how we met. I had to travel a lot for work; it’s one of the main reasons why a lot of women end up leaving engineering, as these roles often required travel. What P&G are very good at, however, is supporting women to grow. Now they offer defined roles with less travel and have very open and transparent conversations around what you might need to commit to over a certain period.

We also created our own cross-functional forums to get input from women across the business to understand if they wanted to move out of engineering, as well as what support they needed to succeed in their roles. These forums are now standard and include Male Allys.

Personally, it’s a conscious choice to do things for the company that will have an impact on your family. There’s always pros and cons, and it means you often have to ‘pack’ so much more in at home. You do have less time for yourself, and I tend to put exercise, time to myself and time to re-energise lower on my priorities list.


What advice do you have for other women looking to pursue a career in engineering?

"Be very clear on what your purpose and goal is. If you’re clear on that, it’s very good to always go back to it and view it – and you can change it over time, as it doesn’t need to be static."

Another piece of advice is to build your career map, starting with where you are in life, your personal situations, your work relationships and what partnerships you have and want to experience.

You don’t need to think too far ahead, but mapping this out does allow you to think forward to where you want to be. I always say to people to think about where they want to be two assignments out.

I am curious and still enjoy learning, and for me that is how you feel like you’re always advancing. That doesn’t need to be upwards, and you shouldn’t just see achievement as more senior levels of seniority.


How important is diversity across senior leadership teams?

Diversity at leadership level is really important, however, I know women are still under-represented in the senior Supply Chain roles. I see them in HR, legal, marketing and sales, but only a few in Supply Chain.

So, for me, it’s about looking at leaders and their biographies, reading what they’ve done and how much they know outside their own country and culture. If you experience and are open to other cultures, you are more aware of your biases, which can be anything from gender to race. Biases, whether conscious or unconscious, affect the culture and Inclusivity.


What are three things you focus on when considering a role with a new organisation?

Beyond the role and company health:

  1. Culture
  2. Sustainability agenda
  3. Work-life balance – I work/travel a lot so balance and flexibility around things in my life.


What have you seen organisations do particularly well to recruit and/or retain women into senior, executive and board-level roles?

Having a more flexible, personable approach to the interview process has been a key action I’ve seen organisations do to recruit more women into senior roles. I’ve seen some organisations make a concerted effort to connect female interviewee with female employees.

Then, building on this, maintaining these mentor-friendships that were developed during the interview process to create a formal-informal support network for the women once they were hired.


What advice would you give to other women who want to work in leadership roles within the supply chain?

"Shine! We are all individual, so be yourself. Do not give into the Impostor Syndrome – you can deliver!"

Have you had role models through your working life who have helped shape you as a leader?

Jeanne Reisinger, who is a phenomenal woman senior leader at Procter & Gamble, including leading Supply Network Operations. She is a successful business woman and mother. She demonstrated success in both delivering business financials while also investing in people’s capability, supporting women in their growth plan.

We’d like to extend a big thank you to Jane for sharing her expertise and insights with us.

Click the button below to read our full International Women’s Day 2024 report, which highlights the current state of play across our three core markets and shares how to attract and retain talented women into senior, executive and board-level roles.

Lisa Finney

Senior Partner | Consumer Markets | APAC

Lisa leads the Food, Beverage & Ingredients and Agriculture industries for Proco Group. She specialises in senior appointments across all areas of R&D, Procurement, Supply Chain, Manufacturing, Sustainability and General Management throughout APMEA and she also helps to drive key accounts globally for the business.

Lisa has 17 years of headhunting experience and has lived and worked in various locations across the world including the U.K, Europe, Japan, Hong Kong and Vietnam and has developed a strong network globally.

T: +852 5808 9654 E: lisa.finney@weareprocogroup.com