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Thinking Outside the (Office) Box Innovating for the New Era of Work

October 14, 2022



Thinking Outside the (Office) Box Innovating for the New Era of Work

Thinking Outside the (Office) Box Innovating for the New Era of Work

Haddy Davies is the Global Procurement Leader and Black Employee Network Chair at Johnson Matthey, a British specialties chemicals and sustainable technologies company. Haddy shares how lockdown in March 2020 forced her to do her job very differently. She recognizes the business’s heavy reliance on machines as well as the critical importance of understanding and engaging employees. Post-pandemic, her company is rethinking and testing new options—approaches, processes, and work arrangements—while Haddy uses First Principles to evaluate responsible sourcing.


[03:00] Haddy shares why she choose a career in engineering.

[05:11] Transitioning to the UK from The Gambia was not so easy.

[06:54] Haddy does a gap year at Bible college to understand more about religion for many family-related reasons.

[09:40] The link between science and theology for Haddy is the appetite for knowledge.

[11:48] Haddy and her husband have multi-faceted connections.

[12:04] Choosing between studying engineering or continuing to study theology.

[13:03] An industrial placement year, starts Haddy’s career at DuPont in sustainable packaging which led to fuel cells using clean fuel.

{14:14] Haddy enjoys working on her company’s efforts to decarbonize the world and get to net zero.

[16:02] The power of problem solving during emergencies.

[17:46] Typical mitigating response from engineers did not anticipate pandemic.

[18:26] Crisis conditions shift investment to achieve more flexibility as resources are freed up to find viable solutions.

[19:36] Cybersecurity issues with remote working require some extra caution with linking up the plant.

[21:07] Innovation to augment machines to reduce onsite human accidents and errors.

[22:18] Haddy’s company is rethinking the design for the workplace to be “fit for purpose”.

[22:54] Flexibility allows tailoring to employee preferences and project needs.

[24:20] Streamlining operations is a continuing challenge, and we need to let go and let the machines do their work!

[25:31] Empathetic management is needed so workers don’t feel disenfranchised or unfairly treated.

[26:54] Haddy is upskilling to explore new roles and is currently working on responsible sourcing.

[28:10] Using a First Principles approach is helpful to reimagine and assess new possibilities.

[30:00] IMMEDIATE ACTION TIP: You need a courageous people plan—one that is for the people with inputs from the people—which has flexible in the approach.

[31:28] The importance of understanding and engaging workers—transparency ensuring no disparities and career rich opportunities to support retention.

[33:42] Haddy’s family is doing well!

[34:27] How the pandemic enabled Haddy and her husband to reimagine their family life.


“Most of the great theologians were great thinkers; they were exploring the disjointedness of life, they always grappled with living in the now while understanding what had come before, and science is the same.”

“Things may seem impossible: ’You can’t possibly work from home if you’re an on-site person!’ We have not been forced to define the problems and bring solutions to the fore as a collective.”

“We are rethinking the design of the workplace to make sure that it is fit for purpose.”

“We need to train the machines to be on their own!”

“If anybody says to me ‘this is how we’ve been doing it!’ I will walk!”

“You have a workforce that is showing up for you. This means that they have considered all of the other options they could have gone to and they are staying. Never take that for granted.”

“Let the people plan the people plan!”

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