Ambassador Profile

Lisa Thomson

HR specialist Lisa found her purpose without losing her authenticity when she turned a vision for specialist HR services into a successful reality
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  • "I would describe my key strengths as having the ability to spot and develop trends, market gaps and connections and to translate these into opportunities, relationship building and networking, balanced with a core tenacity and drive - if something doesn’t work, I will not give up!"
    Lisa's story

    I founded Purpose HR in 2014. Prior to setting up my own business, I had built my HR career within high growth technology companies and had been privileged to work with and for some very inspiring and innovative founders and management teams. During my career I had gained niche skills and experience, built a very strong network and had developed a comprehensive suite of HR tools and templates which could be tailored and implemented for clients. I wanted to take this to market.

    I have always had a keen interest in technology and innovation and could see the potential and growth of these sectors both in Scotland and globally. My ambition was to build and grow my own business – I felt there was a growing market need for pragmatic and commercial HR support tailored to the needs of early stage and high growth businesses.

    I am passionate about diversity and inclusion and the commercial and wider business benefits these practices bring to growing teams, and that start-ups and SME businesses can benefit greatly from focusing on inclusive, people-focused growth practices at as early a stage as possible in their development.

    I applied for a Diageo-funded place on the Saltire Fellowship programme in 2014 and spent 4 months studying entrepreneurship at Babson College, Boston and visiting and learning from businesses in San Francisco and Shanghai. It was a fantastic opportunity but also personally very challenging with a young family at home, however I viewed this as an investment for all our futures. The key takeaways for me were to broaden my commercial and business knowledge and to build my own confidence and ambition, both of which were transformational for me personally.

    Whilst building Purpose HR I also invested my time in building and running Start-up Grind Scotland – a local chapter of a global networking group for entrepreneurs. I love to learn and to connect people and it allowed me to broaden my network and further my knowledge of the start-up, technology and business community, in Scotland and internationally, whilst also supporting and encouraging other entrepreneurs on their journeys.

    As Purpose HR has grown, I have transitioned to leading, supporting and developing a high performing team to support our growing client base.

    I would describe my key strengths as having the ability to spot and develop trends, market gaps and connections and to translate these into opportunities, relationship building and networking, balanced with a core tenacity and drive – if something doesn’t work, I will not give up!

    I have not needed to seek investor funding for the business to date as, due to the nature and costs base of a service-led business and model, this has been driven by customer revenues.

    As we have grown the team and invested in hiring additional staff (both delivery and operational), I was successful in securing grant funding to support and accelerate this growth through the Scottish Enterprise Unlocking Ambition programme. This was a flagship two-year pilot programme that I had applied for and included a range of support including Scottish Enterprise account management and an allocation of grant funding.

    As part of the application I had to write a business plan (I used the business model canvas), an application, attend an interview and also had to pitch. The pitch was well out of my personal comfort zone and challenging, but I prepared as much as I could. I learned from watching examples, from my network, by using as many learning resources as I could access and also practiced as much and as often as I could. I am aware my pitch presentation skills may not be as confident and polished as others, but I am also conscious that the content and passion for your offering is just as important as your delivery and was glad that the assessors ‘scratched below the surface’, especially with the chance for follow up questions. Keeping it short, clear and concise and following a structure was really helpful.

    I am motivated by achievements, am very ambitious and am always looking ahead. I’m extremely proud of the consultancy services business that I’ve built so far and of the team that I am leading. We have a growing portfolio of exciting, high growth clients and are driving forward our growth plans to penetrate a much wider market with an innovative digital offering.

    My journey so far has taught me the importance of being self-aware, of surrounding yourself with people who support and champion you, and of doing the same for others. It has also taught me self-confidence and the ability to let go, empower others and let them thrive.

    I am exceptionally proud to be an Ambassador for Women’s Enterprise Scotland, championing entrepreneurship and women-led businesses.