Leila Behzadi Spencer
Tell us a little bit about yourself and your background?
I studied Economics, History and French at A-level and ended up doing a law degree at university, mostly because my parents both did law degrees and I didn't know what else to do. For the first year and a half I thought I would go into law as a career and did a few placements in law firms. However, in my second year I joined a society where we ran social enterprises and that's where I discovered my passion for business and particularly social enterprises. After university, I went solo travelling around South East Asia and Australia for a few months which was a fantastic experience and then shortly after I got back I joined Arcadis. Outside of work, my interests include music, languages and travel.
What inspired you to apply for this role?
I wanted to apply for consulting as I wanted to understand more about how businesses run. I also really liked the variation that you get with consulting as you get the chance to work with multiple clients on multiple projects in multiple roles. I also felt that consulting was a good match for my skill set as you have to be able to communicate well, think logically, provide solutions and be creative.
What inspired you to apply to Arcadis?
I got very lucky as I now realise that I am particularly interested in the built environment and I'd really love to have a career in the sector. However what drew me to Arcadis initially was our interest in sustainability and the environment. I really wanted to find a company that wasn't just interested in those things at a surface level, and Arcadis ticked that box for me. The culture that exists throughout the organisation as well is so positive and inclusive and that's not something you often find in consulting.
What has been the single most important thing you've learnt so far in your job?
How to say no. As a graduate, it's really easy to take on everything that comes your way because you want to get involved and everything seems interesting. It's true that trying something is the best way to see whether or not you enjoy it. However, the result of that is that you actually just end up working a lot of late nights and you still don't manage to deliver the 10 things to the same quality as if you were only doing 3. I presumed people wouldn't respect me if I turned down opportunities but actually, they'd much rather you only committed if you could do a good job.
What is your role and how long have you been at Arcadis?
I joined Arcadis as a Junior Consultant in January 2020 and have now been here for 9 months.
What would a ‘normal’ day look like for someone in your role?
I'm sure everyone says this but there really isn't a 'normal' day as every day is different. If I was on a project I'd probably have a catch up meeting with my team first thing where we'd set our plans for the day. Then I might have some meetings or workshops in with members of the client team which could be anything form a quick catch up to a long interview using virtual survey tools like slido. I'd probably then get might head down for some private time and that's usually pulling together a report, analysing and sorting data or maybe producing a deliverable like training, a newsletter or some job descriptions. I'd probably also have one or two other meetings with my team where we might check over each other's work and I'd also set aside an hour or so for internal work where I might be helping out with the Transformational Change Community, working on thought leadership, pulling together some training or helping create an induction pack for new starters. And if I'm on the bench (not on project) my day can include anything from helping out with bids to looking at diversity data - it really varies!
What do you find most interesting with the sector/role you’re in?
The nature of what we do means that you're constantly being asked to do something different and it's not necessarily something you've done before. Not only do you have to think on your feet but you are also forced to use different skills and understand different things. One day I might be writing a communications strategy for a client in buildings and the next I might be helping look at efficiency gains for a client in infrastructure. It's that variation that keeps things really interesting for me.
What is the Arcadis culture like?
The culture is absolutely fantastic and it's one of the things that caused me to take the job. Such an effort is made to ensure that this isn't just a place of work and I am genuinely friends with so many of my colleagues. The culture is friendly and inclusive and there are so many social activities. There is also a very flat hierarchy which means that we get to have a say on important decision and even if you're very junior you can be involved in making and implementing important decisions.
How important is diversity to you and what is Arcadis doing in this space at the moment?
Diversity and inclusion are incredibly important and I wouldn't want to work for a company that didn't think the same. Within Business Transformation we have just had a series of inclusion surveys and workshops as part of a re-evaluation of our D&I strategies and to ensure that everyone can have their voices heard on the subject. The data from these is now being analysed and will inform our strategies and activities moving forward.
Finally, any tips for anyone who’d like to apply for a role at Arcadis?
The most important thing is how you come across as an individual. Don't worry if you don't have 4 A* at a level and a masters degree in engineering - it's your personality, your interests and your drive that will matter. Take the time to research the company but also take the time to think about what elements of yourself you want to showcase.