Meet the people who help our clients design and build innovative technology solutions to benefit their businesses as well as their customers: our subject matter experts aka SMEs. In this series, we’ll discover how they came to work in the industry and the changing role of technology in our lives. We’ll also get a glimpse into what makes them tick as people outside of work.
This week, we’re joined by Lia Rollman, a people leader with great experience who joined the Endava family through the merger with Levvel in 2021. Based in Charlotte, North Carolina, our Diversity and Inclusion Lead for the Americas supports our people to be the best they can be and empowers them to be their authentic selves.
So good to have you here, Lia. What has brought you into the tech industry and the people space?
I am grateful for the non-linear career path I took with professional work experience in industries like education, sales, and healthcare, which afforded me opportunities to work with people in different environments and cultures. Although I had little knowledge of the IT consulting space before joining Levvel, I knew I wanted to continue pursuing a career in the HR/People space, focusing on employee experience and engagement, so finding a company that not only had an amazing culture filled with exceptionally talented people but was also changing the world for the better using technology was like hitting the jackpot of career opportunities. I still remember how excited I was about the opportunity to join Levvel five years ago, and I’m even more grateful to be part of the Endava family, sharing my story with you all today.
What has been the biggest innovation since you have been working in the industry?
As a millennial, I witnessed some huge advancements in technology, like Wi-Fi, the iPhone, and all smart devices – up to and including self-driving electric cars! In reflecting on one of the biggest innovations since I have been working in the industry, I think of the proliferation of APIs and the impact it has on business capabilities, especially from an operational perspective that can be directly correlated to the work we do, but also the impact it has on our people and culture.
I was able to witness first-hand how an open API was able to positively integrate our current HRIS (human resource information system) in order to seamlessly share data from multiple systems. This streamlined our onboarding processes and created more efficiency from a back-office perspective, while ultimately creating a much more fluid employee experience and directly impacting our overhead costs and employee satisfaction scores. Although APIs may not be as well known outside of the tech industry or have the same glamourous appeal as the new Apple product released each year, the advancements the API has brought to companies and how they implement technology will continue to shape the world and how people engage with one another.
And what is the biggest challenge or opportunity you are seeing and what should businesses be doing to prepare for this?
One of the biggest challenges businesses are faced with currently is that the pandemic has drastically shifted how people think about work. What once used to be differentiators for small start-ups, like benefits of remote work or flexible work schedules, have become standard offerings. This makes it especially challenging when you compete for top talent against companies who can offer desirable perks like telecommuting and don’t require the candidates to relocate to a higher-cost geography to get the premium salary as they have historically done. They rather offer substantial total compensation packages while allowing their employees to work from wherever they choose. However, the market is starting to steady, and the huge giants like Google, Apple, and many big banks are starting to pull back their fully remote policies, requiring employees to start returning to the office at least on a part-time basis.
Because Endava has always been a remote-friendly employer and has committed to continue allowing employees to work from home for the foreseeable future, while also investing in more hybrid options – similar to what Airbnb has done for their employees, allowing them the option to work from an office and take advantage of the many benefits an in-office culture affords – our approach provides the best of both worlds for employees of the diverse workforce of today. Businesses like Endava need to continue evaluating the market, understanding the wants and needs of the everchanging markets, and adapting to provide more flexibility and benefits people want in order to stay competitive and ultimately do what’s best for their people.
What is the Endava group project you are most proud of and why?
I had the humbling opportunity to be part of Endava’s US Women in Tech panel that was hosted during our 2022 Women’s Week, where a diverse panel of women from various areas of the organisation discussed the importance of gender equity, the best way for women to navigate the world of technology, and how to thrive in an inclusive environment.
I am most proud of this project because it is not a secret that, unlike many other businesses, we have so much work to do in the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion space; however, initiatives like this are a small step in the right direction by providing a safe platform for diverse perspectives and insights to be shared while hopefully promoting awareness and inspiring others to become allies, advocates, and supporters of not only gender equity but equity for all minority and marginalised employees.
Although I am still relatively new to Endava, it was incredible to share a seat with some of the most impressive women I’ve had the opportunity to work with in my entire career, and this was just a fraction of the population of immensely brilliant, talented, and diverse women we have here at Endava. I really look forward to our continued efforts to not only spotlight these women but individuals from all over the world, from many different backgrounds and walks of life, who make Endava what is it today: truly inclusive.
On the flip side, what is the project or technology that challenged you the most and where you had some setbacks? What did you learn from this?
Being part of the senior leadership team of a rapidly growing IT consulting firm provided many challenges and learning opportunities over the years. In a people-first organisation, one of the biggest challenges in any project or major decision that impacts both the people and business is that one will never make every person happy. In order to be an effective leader, one must learn to trust their intent and be able to confidently own the decisions they make as part of the business – and that remains true for not only when it goes well, but when it fails miserably. At the end of the day, employee feedback, business need, and strategy should be at the forefront of every big decision, and an effective communication plan that promotes transparency and trust.
Now, let’s move on to some more personal questions, alright? Would you be brave enough to share one of your guilty pleasures with us?
Music and theatre arts was a prominent part of my childhood. In my free time, I enjoy attending Broadway musicals, and If I’m not at a show, you can catch me at a country concert at our local amphitheatre in North Carolina.
What was something you thought would be easy until you tried it?
One thing I thought would be easy, but it was much more difficult in real life is threading a bobbin on a sewing machine. Thankfully, you can now find multiple YouTube tutorials; however, it took me a lot longer to perfect it than I’d like to admit!
What topic could you give a 20-minute presentation on without any preparation?
Culture and engagement and its impact on people and the business. I’m extremely passionate about employee experience, and throughout my career, I’ve had the opportunity to work with companies that did it well and others who failed miserably. This gives me the ability to easily speak to the core aspects that contribute to shaping a truly people-first culture that is inclusive to all, where people can feel safe and ultimately provide value by being their true authentic selves.
Finally, would you share a favourite quote with us to send our readers off with some inspiration?
“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” (Maya Angelou)
Many thanks to Lia for sharing her views and experiences with us. Stay tuned for more insights into the work and life of Endavans in the next part of our Meet the SME series!
Diversity and Inclusion Lead, AmericasLia has over 15 years of people leadership experience with a passion for culture, diversity and equity, and inclusion. She was a member of the Executive Leadership team as well as Head of Human Resources for Levvel prior to joining forces with Endava. This allowed her to capitalise on her diverse people background, acting as a strategic partner in all facets of the business as the organisation integrated with Endava in April 2021. Based on her deep knowledge and experience, Lia took on a larger role specialising in Diversity and Inclusion strategy for the Americas in July 2022.
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