To mark Black History Month, the first of our interviews this month focuses on 'Diversity Champion' finalist, Vanessa Harvey, Recruitment Manager, Milbank LLP.
So, exciting news for you, Vanessa. You have recently been shortlisted in the Diversity Champion category in The UK Diversity Legal awards. You are the only non-Partner who has been selected for this award. A fantastic achievement. Tell us a little about what this means to you?
It’s an honour to be nominated! Diversity is something I feel very passionately about and it’s an area I always make an effort to get involved with.
As for being the only non-Partner, I think it has made this nomination particularly special for me! I hope to show other business services staff in the legal industry that when you work hard and put your mind to something, you can achieve great things. You don’t have to be a Partner, to make positive change and influence.
In your opinion, what steps still need to be taken within the legal industry to tackle its diversity issues and ensure equal representation of minorities in the attraction of talent?
I think the legal industry has really started to recognize diversity issues more in recent years, but there is definitely a long way to go. I would like to see more female Partners, more BAME lawyers entering the legal profession and certainly more recognition and support for LGBTQ+ (particularly those fresh out of University and feeling unsure of how to come out at work in their first graduate role).
Throughout your HR career, you have worked for UK, global, magic circle and now a US firm. What has surprised you most about working with Milbank?
Demystifying the US firm culture, I think the thing that has surprised me the most is how friendly and approachable people are. I think there is a misconception (particularly among junior lawyers) that US firms are a bit more shark like, but I’ve found the culture here to be very open, friendly, supportive and collaborative. There is such a great energy at Milbank and despite growth, we have still retained a true ‘family’ type culture.
Who has been the biggest influence on your career?
My Dad has a huge influence on my career! He was an IT Recruitment Director and ran his own company, so I grew up around the buzz of recruitment and wanting to work in the city. He used to say to me as a kid “if it’s going to be, it’s up to me” –that’s stuck with me for years and I always refer back to it. No one is going to give you something on a plate, success comes with hard work and determination.
What's your proudest career moment/achievement?
I think becoming a mother and balancing a city career with raising two beautiful children is definitely something I’m proud of. My daughter and son are definitely my proudest achievement!
If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be?
New York! I’ve been visiting there since I was a kid and it’s a city that I never get bored of. The energy is so fast paced, even more so than London and I think I would like to spend some of my career out there at some point just to experience it a bit more!
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