Hello and thanks for checking out our latest Feature Friday interview as we speak with Julie Lecoq, Consultant at HOK.
WOD: Thanks for joining us. Give us a summary of your background to start, and how you became involved with the workspace sector…
JL: “I grew up in France where I studied English and graduated in Pedagogy and New Technologies. Initially, my plan was to teach English or French as a foreign language which was one of my specialisms at University. I always loved languages; working in a multicultural environment, traveling, and learning more about other cultures has always been something that excited me. I had the opportunity to teach French in the UK for a year and was very tempted to stay and pursue this route. However, I changed my mind and decided to come back to France to continue my studies.
After obtaining my Masters, I started my professional journey developing educational applications including a business English training software for an accountancy firm in Paris, but it is when I joined PolyVision – part of Steelcase Group – as a Consultant specialised in Education that my career really took off. At the time, I was supporting Steelcase network with the development of a new market for Interactive Whiteboards in the education sector in France through the training of colleagues, dealers, resellers, and end users. I then moved to London where I developed business for Steelcase in Higher Education for UK & Eire, working alongside the UK sales team and partners network, as well with the wider Steelcase Education team. This is where I first got involved with the fascinating world of workplace, looking at not only technology solutions, but also the design of spaces and the user experience in general.
I then had the opportunity to work with one of my friends who set up her own business specialised in Consulting for Higher Education where I fell in love with Change Management and certified as a qualified practitioner, one of the best things I have ever done! Helping people through periods of change and transitions is something I have a deep passion for, and I am very proud to do.”
WOD: And could you tell us more about your current role?
JL: “I joined HOK’s London studio as a Consultant in 2017. As a Strategic Adviser and a Change Manager, I work with organisations and help them make better-informed decisions to create places that support their business needs and aid their employees in periods of transition.
Since we went into lockdown, my focus has been predominantly on supporting clients who are changing the way they work and preparing their return to office post-pandemic, whether it is in their existing space, or ahead of a future move.
The legacy of the pandemic will undeniably have a significant impact on how we create spaces and design meaningful experiences. I feel privileged to work with organisations around the world to help them redefine the purpose of the office and re-shape their workplace to support both business and individuals’ needs.”
WOD: And is there such a thing as a ‘typical working day’ for you?
JL: “Well, no two days are the same… and that is what I love about my job!
As part of my role, I am fortunate to collaborate with different teams, meet new people, learn new things and work with businesses from varying scales, across different sectors and regions. Every day is a learning day!
Before the pandemic hit, I used to spend my time collaborating with colleagues in our London Studio, meeting with teams, clients, and partners both in person and virtually, as well as travelling. But since being in lockdown and working from home, a “typical” working day is mainly made of back to back phone calls and virtual meetings.
The rest of my time is usually allocated to exploring new business opportunities, developing proposals and presentations, working with other teams, preparing activities (visioning sessions, workshops, focus groups, interviews), interpreting data and outputs from engagement, as well as producing various deliverables for my clients (strategic brief, comms and change collaterals). I also enjoy attending and contributing to webinars, reading, listening to podcasts, and undertaking research.”
WOD: Do you have any words of wisdom for anybody that wants to succeed in a similar role to yours?
JL: “Be curious – stay up to date with trends, talk to colleagues and people including people from other sectors and/or industries, attend events and continuously expand your network.
Be open minded – challenge the status quo, always question, and evaluate yourself and others, and put yourself in others’ shoes. It is also important to have empathy for the people you work with, whether it be your colleagues, partners, or clients.
Be an active listener – there is so much you can understand and uncover just through listening and asking the right questions!”