In conversation with Laura Vickery, Jaguar Land Rover

Laura Vickery is the Global CSR Manager for Jaguar Land Rover (JLR), and she also leads JLR’s ‘Social Impact’ Team. Read about her experience running JLR’s CSR programmes below.

Please describe your role and responsibilities, how many years you have been in the company?
I have worked at Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) for over 5 years. In practice, I spend my days running JLR’s CSR programme, which comprises of around 20 projects, all of which help improve the lives of disadvantaged people internationally. I also help shape the JLR Responsible Business Strategy, advise on policy, and lead community investment reporting. Added to this, the Social Impact Team is responsible for managing community engagement activity and running the employee volunteering programme.

What was your background previously and where did your interest in community begin?
I had a ‘light bulb moment’ 18 years ago, when I discovered the field of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). The realisation that I could work in the private sector yet not have to compromise my interest in social justice was a big moment. If you are interested in people and their welfare, you are interested in community. I am currently a trustee for a charity outside of my day job and love every moment.

How has your community investment programme evolved at your company?
The emphasis on organisations to demonstrate the business case for community investment has increased in recent years, and JLR is no exception. Whilst community engagement at JLR has a long pedigree, decision-making on what organisations or social issues to support has become more deliberate and in line with what makes sense for our industry and our people. Reporting requirements have also become more rigorous, and JLR has worked alongside LBG to focus on the depth and quality of the impacts of community activities, rather than recording input and output metrics alone. Going forward, I expect to see more community investment decisions being devolved to committees at the businesses’ main UK plants, rather than managed by a single centralised team.

What are the challenges you encounter in driving the sustainability agenda and how do you stay inspired?
I believe that a successful business is a responsible business that delivers against purpose, people, planet and profit. It frustrates me that this still isn’t commonly accepted across the business community. I stay inspired by my colleagues and ‘intrapreneurs’ who I work with, who have the creativity and drive to make things happen and choose to make the most of any situation they find themselves in.

What is your biggest accomplishment or learning so far?
That’s a hard one, as I think that most progress is the result of collaboration between a group of people working towards a common goal. I am a firm believer that you should be learning (and teaching) all the time. That said, in 2016/17, I managed to win the ‘Best International Sustainability Programme’ on JLR’s behalf in the UK Global Good Awards, complete a postgraduate certification at Cambridge University Institute for Sustainability Leadership, undertake a placement in another team in JLR and grow a baby (my son is now 18 months old). I look back at that time as one that was stretching and satisfying (if a bit exhausting).

What is your motto in life?
“Always be yourself. Never take yourself too seriously. And beware of advice from experts, pigs and members of Parliament.” (Kermit the Frog, my hero)

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