Interview with Lisa Tremble

To mark our 15th year in business our founder Wayne Reynolds is interviewing a wide range of highly accomplished corporate affairs leaders about their experience and views of the function. First up is the brilliant Lisa Tremble who not only leads the corporate affairs and sustainability teams at British Airways, she is also their chief people officer.

CV

Chief People, Corporate Affairs and Sustainability Officer, British Airways (current)

Group Corporate Affairs and Sustainability Director, Direct Line Group (2017 to 2021)

Director of External Affairs, Mishcon de Reya (2013 to 2017)

Director, Lexington Communications (2010 to 2013)

Director of Communications, David Miliband Campaign (2010)

Special Adviser to James Purnell, Department for Work and Pensions (2007 to 2009)

What advice would you give to yourself 15 years ago?

Don’t expend too much energy on things that are largely in your own head, and don’t overthink things. Like most people, I’d be disappointed if things didn’t go as well as they could have, I’d worry too much about what others might think and generally give myself a hard time. Today I’m much better at reflecting on a situation, what went well, what could have been better, and moving on.

How has corporate affairs changed over the last 15 years, and what do you expect next?

15 years ago I was working in government and communicating the purpose behind what we were doing was really important – as it should be when you’re spending taxpayers’ money. The same is true of the corporate world today, a business’s reputation is more important than it has ever been and doing the right thing matters. ESG has helped companies think beyond financial metrics. Today what your employees think and how they feel is just as important as how you treat shareholders, showing how we’re going to get to net zero is just as important as the relationships we have in our local communities.

What next? There’s a lot of buzz around AI and I think there’s a place for technology to help us work faster, become more efficient and to take in and understand more information than the human brain can ever do. While it’s important to embrace this kind of new technology, we know that it will never replace real human connections. What it can do is free up time to be creative, develop strategy and use our judgement to meet tomorrow’s challenges.

What three skills does a modern-day corporate affairs director need? And if you could pick only one, which would it be and why?

Perspective, a clear sense of purpose and the ability to see the big picture. As a corporate affairs director there’s a lot you need to master quickly and having perspective really helps. Having a clear sense of who you are, who your team are and what you want to say will help you to have a clear sense of purpose and stay calm in a crisis. And most importantly is the ability to see the big picture, in your own business, in the industry, what’s happening in the real world, what’s happening with all of your stakeholders, only then can you see the big picture and join the dots to make better informed decisions.

What do you love about the job?

I love working with different people and bringing the best out of them. And making complicated things really simple and accessible for people.

If you didn’t work in corporate affairs, what would you do instead?

Chief People Officer! I’ve recently taken on permanent responsibility for our people team in addition to corporate affairs and sustainability and love it.

What was the last book you read?

A brilliant comedy called “How to kill your family” by Bella Mackie. If you’re going to read it in public be prepared for some funny looks!

What would be your specialist subject on Mastermind?

British politics, 1995 to 2010.

What do you enjoy doing away from the office?

I love being at home with my family, seeing friends, cooking and occasionally going to the theatre.

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30th January 2024

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