Dima Akel reviews LSE’s public lecture with communications expert, Yasmin Diamond, which formed part of the Women In Business series.
Imagine the scene. Wooden doors, reserved VIP, velvet, silky chairs, starry birds in the architecture, strangers sitting all together in one room with attentive eyes on the phenomenal character of the woman sitting in front of them. This 2 hour public lecture felt like 5 minutes in the company of Mrs.Yasmin Diamond, as she reflected on her rich career in corporate, government and public sector communications. In a conversation with Dr Hyun-Jung Lee, Assistant Professor of Employment Relations and Organizational Behavior in LSE’s Department of Management, she discussed such topics as what constitutes effective leadership skills, what makes a good communicator and how to overcome cultural differences in the workplace.
“I’m not an expert, but I speak from experience”, Mrs. Diamond said as she introduced herself to her audience. Yasmin is British Pakistani, raised in the United Kingdom along with her 4 sisters and 2 brothers. Her father was a bus driver while her mother did sewing piece work at home. I admired Mrs. Diamond for her lighthearted, confident and defiant spirit and for being the only girl in the family to receive a university education. Persistent, she built a career for herself using her communications skills. After a stint at the BBC as Publicity Commissioner, she has subsequently held numerous government communications positions including; Director of Communications at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs; Head of Communications for Welfare to Work and New Deal and Head of Marketing at the Department for Education and Skills, and latterly, Director of Communications at the Home Office.
She recently made a move into the private sector and today Yasmin Diamond serves as the Executive Vice President of Global Corporate Affairs of InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG). “You can’t put your career in someone else’s hands”, were some of the wise words Mrs. Diamond shared with us. Explaining about how vital it is for an individual to choose a career they enjoy, she added, “never go for a job for a title or promotion, go for the passion, something that interests you. You spend more time at work than you do anything else. Don’t make yourself miserable”. When speaking about corporate culture, she emphasized the need “to use the organization and not operate in a vacuum since we operate in a diverse world where there are others out there”.
Dr Hyun- Jung Lee addressed a question to Mrs. Diamond regarding what makes a good communicator. According to Yasmin, communication is a core leadership skill that is all about being authentic and being true to yourself. However, it includes three key attributes:
- Curiosity: have an unquestionable need for answers. If you want to be interesting, you have to be interested. Be the person who goes behind and underneath things.
- Storytelling: as an individual, bring something to life by writing. Stories are 22 times more memorable than facts.
- Judgement: fantastic innate judgement either makes or breaks a career. You have to speak truth to power. Within organizations, it is imperative to call things out.
Mrs. Diamond puts the spotlight on the third attribute and described it as her favorite and the most critical for the communications field.
When asked about work/life balance, a question which I was curious about as a student of Management with an interest in gender equality, Mrs. Diamond expressed how, as a parent, she is able to act as a role model for her family. To reach where she is today, she had to make sacrifices such as missing some of her children’s extracurricular activities. She unshakably confessed that she never baked for the school events and reminded the unfamiliar faces in front of her that “you don’t have to be perfect” and sometimes you just have to let it go.
Learn more about our Master’s programmes.