Celebrating LifeAtPA

Chief People Officer

Why do I love working at PA? Cliché as it sounds — especially coming from a Chief People Officer — it’s, you guessed it, our people. I know, everyone says that. Yet look at just who is part of this incredible organisation and it’ll soon be evident that our people really are unique. They care deeply for our clients, for one another, and for our communities.

I want to tell you a bit about our team: there’s the scientist who is revolutionising cell and gene therapy; the clean energy expert who is passionate about ensuring their clients understand how to make use of the latest disruptive technologies; and the UX specialist who is passionate about creating stunning digital customer experiences on the web for recognisable brands.

For me, nurturing a high performing team, while building an organisation where people thrive, are my highest priorities.

That starts with ensuring we have a diversity of perspectives and a blend of expertise. Bringing together people from many walks of life enables our teams to grow through collective knowledge, and to provide our clients with an innovation offering that’s end-to-end. Forging a high performing team also extends to creating an outstanding workplace culture; one that’s inclusive, prizes wellbeing, recognises individual and team achievements, develops people to be their best, and allows everyone to bring their best self to work.

I’m lucky. I have one of the greatest seats in the house. It’s been hugely rewarding to witness our people excelling in their roles and making a positive impact. To our people, thank you for helping make this an incredible place to work. And to our clients, we’re committed to continuing to give you the very best expertise for the task at hand. Together, we’re bringing ingenuity to life.”

Growing our team of ingenious people

Our people are our greatest asset, and more talented people are recognising PA as a great place to build their career. In 2022, we welcomed over 1,300 new colleagues and over 50 new partners.

We scaled our teams in areas including renewable energy, digital transformation, and sustainable consumer goods, and further enhanced our expertise in disciplines such as growth strategy, science, engineering, and design.

In fact, design is a cornerstone that sets PA apart in the industry. In welcoming Design Partners to the family, we’ve yet again strengthened our global design capacity with award-winning capabilities in product design, innovation, and customer experience.

In the US, our team at The Cambridge Group provides us with added expertise to serve clients in the consumer retail and healthcare sectors. Their proven experience in growth strategy, market activation, and pricing aligns perfectly with our end-to-end positioning. It also provides us a new office base in Chicago — a major market hub, with more opportunities to deliver innovation and growth for our clients.

With these new teams, we’re delivering unique skills at scale, increasing our presence in key client markets, and providing our people the chance to work alongside colleagues with incredible backgrounds and expertise.

Supporting our people to bring their best selves to work

Providing a working culture that’s genuinely inclusive and diverse is so important to us. We know that when you bring together people with different perspectives, backgrounds, and expertise, ingenuity can flourish. That’s why we’re committed to creating an ever more inclusive and diverse place to work, where everyone feels supported and can thrive.

It starts with our recruitment practices that prioritise identifying diverse talent and extends to our employee network groups, which continue to celebrate, educate, and raise awareness on diversity topics. Our RISE (Racial Inclusion & Social Equity), Mental Health & Wellbeing, PRIDE, Women’s, and Military Networks have each delivered impactful and inspirational campaigns for our people. These include the Lend an Ear campaign to promote honest conversations about mental health and wellbeing and a partner panel event hosted through our RISE Network to support the launch of mentoring sessions across our offices.

The physical and emotional wellbeing of our people is paramount. Throughout the year we helped people look after their mental, physical, financial, social, and career-related wellbeing. For example, regular #LifeAtPA events, organised by our champions and networks, gave our people the opportunity to learn and grow, with events focused on topics such as men’s mental health, financial wellbeing, and menopause, as well as through talks from inspirational guest speakers, including former women's professional football player, Alex Scott, on career progression.

We were thrilled to see our Women in Tech team win the ‘Best Employer Network’ category at the Women in Tech Employer Awards 2022, for their work to proactively build an inclusive community, provide learning and development experiences, and drive opportunities for women in Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) careers.

In 2022, we introduced our Working Families, Neurodiversity and PA Jewish communities, to better support and represent our diverse workforce.

We’re committed to ensuring equity of opportunity, regardless of gender. We have galvanised our efforts to improve gender parity at PA, including the representation of women at partner level and in other senior roles. Underpinning this is an Inclusion & Diversity aligned recruitment strategy supporting diverse representation across our organisation and at all career levels.

Recognising our team’s achievements

Our purpose guides how we make decisions, work with our clients, and make LifeAtPA ever better. Our people are a continuous reflection of this, inspiring our clients — and each other — to think in bold, new ways, and re-imagine what’s possible.

Our Purpose Awards — now in their second year — celebrate the different ways we tackle the world's toughest challenges and seize its greatest opportunities.

Winners included our team who partnered with Affinity Water, a UK provider of drinking water, to help it tackle excess water leakage, with the team devising a unique pressure testing technology to detect and prevent leakages of up to 20 million litres. In Denmark, Line Fryd Hofmansen helped reduce a supermarket retailer’s environmental impact with a global plastics packaging strategy. And we recognised Margaret Ekpo for establishing a mentoring programme that has seen more than 200 young people matched with PA mentors. For her efforts, Margaret Ekpo was also awarded the 'Mentor of the Year' at the UK Social Mobility Awards.

Beyond Purpose Awards, our teams earnt critical acclaim for our exceptional design work, receiving high-profile awards at the Industrial Designers Society of America (IDSA) Awards, including a Special Achievement recognising our work creating industry-leading products for Nike, Microsoft, Logitech, and more. We were also honoured in Fast Company’s 2022 World Changing Ideas Awards for two sustainability-led client projects, including applying our digital analytics and business intelligence expertise to help start-up, Green Boom, take its patented solution for reducing and cleaning up oil spills to market, as well as our collaboration with Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust leading the creation and delivery of a roadmap to put an end to plastic waste.

Supporting our communities

Our desire to build a positive human future extends to the communities in which we live and work.

Through our PA in the Community volunteering programme, our people gave over 10,000 hours of their time and expertise. The programme develops and inspires people, particularly those facing disadvantage, to be the innovators and leaders of tomorrow — through education and skills training, direct mentoring, and with opportunities to apply their ingenuity to solve the world's biggest challenges.

During the year, our Springboard work experience programme in the UK and US gave students from diverse backgrounds the opportunity to develop valuable skills. We also challenged students to identify ingenious ways to accelerate the energy transition through our renowned Raspberry Pi competition, and trained women in digital skills to address the gender imbalance in technology careers through our Women in Tech network. At the same time, we strengthened our long-term connection to the military through coaching people transitioning out of careers in the armed forces.

With the UK’s Royal National Institute for Deaf People (RNID), we provided strategic advice on improving access and outcomes for people with hearing loss. And in Norway, we worked with CARE Norway — a development and emergency aid organisation that fights for the rights of disadvantaged women — to demonstrate how artificial intelligence can support their work to reduce gender bias.

Always seeking to scale our impact, last year we established The PA Foundation, whose mission aligns with our communities focus. The PA Foundation will distribute £10 million through 2026. In its first year, it distributed more than £1.2 million to 20 charity partners located in the places we live and work.

These charities are addressing concerns we’re passionate about, like educational access, STEM, and social mobility.

Yet more than just financial support, The PA Foundation provided a platform for our people to get behind the work of the charities it supports. Highlights of the year included delivering training to help refugees to restart their careers in the US with Upwardly Global, to helping students navigate career options with Making the Leap in the UK.

Being a responsible business

We take pride in our innovative work to accelerate our clients’ response to climate change, including developing and scaling green technologies, driving sustainable supply chains, designing sustainable packaging, and much more. And in our own commitment as a company to halting the devastating effects of climate change.

In the past year, we submitted our targets for how we’ll help limit global warming to 1.5°C to the Science Based Target initiative and shared details on our commitment to achieving net zero as a business by 2040. We also continued to make progress towards reducing our direct emissions. We’re introducing energy enhancing improvements to our Global Innovation and Technology Centre, our only PA-owned building, which is home to office, laboratory, studio, and manufacturing test spaces. We also unveiled a new programme to make owning or leasing an electric vehicle significantly more attractive to our people.

We understand the power of collaboration and take seriously the unique position we’re in to spread our knowledge on climate response as wide as possible. Through our partnership with the World Economic Forum Global Freshwater Challenge, we’re supporting a burgeoning community of ‘aquaprenuers’ to fund and grow innovations that can clean and treat polluted water in water-stressed countries. As the United Nations Global Compact’s disruptive technology partner, we’re co-developing a comprehensive learning programme to educate and inspire the Compact’s global membership on how to employ innovation and technology to speed progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals. And in the media, we’ve shared our expertise on topics ranging from greener ways to access water, to the need for boards to ensure that the role of Chief Sustainability Officer (CSO) sits at the core of their business strategy.

Contact the team

We look forward to hearing from you.