Beverley Sorsby, Head of HR at Ropes & Gray

Beverley is Head of HR at Ropes & Gray, international law firm in the City of London. In the first of our spotlight features, she talks about her progression to a senior role in HR, taking risks, and the importance of learning and accepting feedback no matter what stage you’re at in your career.

Can you briefly explain the journey of your career to date?

I relocated from the North-East of England to London (more years ago now than I care to remember!) and I was lucky enough to start my HR career in the recruitment department at a leading high street retailer, as the company was renowned for providing excellent HR training.  After four years, I was keen to try a different industry so I moved into financial services. I left the bank after about 15 months, as I got the opportunity to travel the world for a year with a friend.  When I returned, I secured a job at a law firm and I have worked in professional services ever since, working at three international law firms (and now a US-headquartered global law firm).  This variety has given me a huge amount of exposure to different firms and organisations including size and scale, internal clients/stakeholders, cultures, structures and leadership styles, as well as being part of firms and organisations at various stages of evolution, from start-ups to mature and sophisticated businesses. Furthermore, throughout my career, I have performed roles within every HR work-stream and have been involved in projects such as TUPE transfers, organisation restructures and mergers. This experience meant I had the perfect blend of skills and experience to take on the standalone HR Manager role, helping Ropes & Gray build its London office.  That was over five years ago and I am now the Head of HR, London, responsible for the regional HR strategy and operations, overseeing a high-performing team.

What does your average day look like?

No two days are the same! I have a very varied day in terms of content but it usually includes a series of meetings/calls, working with colleagues in the US and Asia, as well as here in the UK, alongside the usual emails.  I’ll also find myself managing issues (and personalities!) as they arise. I operate an open door policy as it’s important to me that people find me approachable and available. The great thing about Ropes & Gray has been the opportunity to build a HR function, so in addition to the transactional and cyclical work, I get the opportunity to design and implement many projects and initiatives both locally and globally.    

Where do you want your career to take you from here?

I’m looking forward to continuing to build the London office at Ropes & Gray, as well as continuing to globalise the HR function.  I’d love to get more involved in CSR work, such as social mobility initiatives to give younger people the opportunity to learn from my experiences.

Who has been the most influential person in your career and why? 

It’s important to identify a mentor to provide you with advice and guidance throughout your career.  A mentor can be an individual within or outside of your organisation and you can have different mentors at different stages of your career.  I’ve had a few mentors over the years, one was my boss at the time, one was a senior business manager in one of the fee earning practice groups where I worked, and my current mentor is a highly-regarded Senior HR Director.  It also helps to identify a sponsor within your firm/organisation if you can. 

In your mind, what has been the key factors behind your success?   

Taking a risk is definitely the main factor to my success, whether that be taking the plunge to relocate to London, having the confidence to move jobs to advance my career, or having the guts to go from a permanent role to a fixed term contract in order to land the dream job at Ropes & Gray. Additionally, I’ve always been someone who strives to be the best person I can, both professionally and personally, so I’ve always been open to constructive criticism, and I have always been good at reflecting on things to consider how I could do it differently/better than the last time. I have also embraced any coaching or development opportunities that have been available to me.

What advice would you give someone who is just starting out?

Be accepting of feedback. There’s always room for improvement, regardless of your title, seniority, or years of experience. And, of course, always be yourself!

If you didn’t do this, what would you be doing?  

I remember one of the founding office managing partners at Ropes & Gray telling me that I clearly loved my job so much that I was the only person he knew who would still come to work the next day if I had won the lottery.  If I did win the lottery, I’d invest my free time in initiatives such as developing employability skills in students or raising mental health awareness, in regions such as the North-East of England.

“When I grew up, I wanted to be…

…a dancer; whether that be ballroom, street or salsa! Who doesn’t love sequins and a glitter ball?

Published by Strictly Recruitment.

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