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Leading the change: Veena Baggley

Veena Baggley, Change Manager, talks to Life@LBS about how the School is managing change and using mindfulness to reduces stress in the office and at home.
 
Can you tell us a little bit about what your job involves?
 
I am a Change Manager within IT; any technology-related change naturally involves people changing the way they work, so my job is to identify how the change will affect the people involved and put things in place to deal with them, so that the transition is as smooth as possible.
 
connect@LBS is a great example of this; moving from very paper-based HR tasks to online.  When I joined the School in late February, I put together a Change and Communications Plan with the Internal Communications team, which involved a good few months of engaging with departments across the School to explain what would be changing, how and why. We had lots of feedback and questions – which is the key to a good change approach: ensure all your engagement is two-way! It was great to see such high attendance for the manager training sessions; everyone was aware of what the changes were and arrived ready to learn and embrace the new system and ways of working.
 
What does your typical day at LBS look like?
 
I usually arrive early; I check my emails, which cover a number of different change projects that I am working on. Then a lot of my day is spent consulting with different teams across the School about change initiatives that affect them. I meet with the Internal Communications team regularly – our work complements each other perfectly – a good change approach involves lots of good quality engagement and communication. Attending change project team meetings is important for me, so I am up-to-date with how change initiatives are progressing, so I can plan my change activities accordingly.
 
If I can, I try and get out at lunchtime even if it is just for a quick walk around the park – I think it is really important to have proper breaks during the day for both mind and body – that means no phone as well!
 
What would you like to achieve during your time at LBS?
 
That people at all levels in the School really consider the impact of any changes they are planning. I have seen it so many times working for different clients when I was a management consultant. Someone has a great idea for a change – be it reorganising a team, putting in a new bit of technology, or changing the way people work – without any consideration of how it will affect the people involved.
 
Every process or system involves people and if they are not properly consulted or involved with the case for change then of course you will encounter resistance, change fatigue, or even complete indifference!
 
If I have managed to raised people’s awareness and understanding of change management across the School and get people asking the right questions when they are planning and implementing change, then I would consider that a success!
 
What is the most important lesson life has taught you?
 
That if you don’t like how things are, change them! I have been through a massive amount of change in the last year – we have moved out of London to a small village, I have changed jobs, my children have moved schools. Yes, it has been challenging at times, but it is the attitude you bring to it that determines the impact it has on you. And now we’re wondering why we didn’t do it years ago!
As Charles Darwin memorably said “It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change”.
Tell us something surprising about you…
 
I am a mindfulness teacher and have spent the last couple of years teaching mindfulness-based stress reduction programmes to individuals, groups and in workplaces. I practice mindfulness daily every morning, it helps me to stay balanced, manage my stress levels better and be less reactive when things don’t go according to plan!
 
During the day if I notice signs of stress in me, then I will intervene – perhaps going for a walk in the park at lunchtime, or going to sit somewhere quietly for a few minutes to allow the feelings to settle and then continue with what I was doing.
 
Once a year I go on a week-long silent retreat where I don’t speak for a week. It is absolute bliss – having the opportunity to be truly mindful about every activity in your day without the distraction of talking. My friends and family don’t believe I manage to keep silent for a week, but it is true, I highly recommend it!