Susan Popoola

Leveraging The Value of People
July 27th, 2015

Who Matters?



I got rather upset last week. I had a disagreement with Ben, the details aren’t that important. What is, important is the fact that I spoke to Dorothy about it as she knew both of us and was aware of the background to the situation. I probably shouldn’t have bothered speaking to Dorothy though as her response was to tell me everything that I should have done and should now do to support Ben. She demonstrated a full understanding of where he was coming from but appeared not to recognise what he had done wrong, my intentions in the whole situation and how much I had been hurt. Even if she recognised any of this she definitely didn’t acknowledge it and each time I tried to point things out she went back to Ben, what he needed and how I should support him.

After some time, with tears in my eyes I burst out – “I have needs to you know, don’t you think my needs are important or don’t you think I matter!?!”

If I was to have spoken in precise terms, I would have said “… don’t you think I matter too” “ or as well as Ben” However, I didn’t think this was necessary, From the dialogue I felt that there was no question as to Ben’s importance to Dorothy, The real question was whether she recognised my significance and needs.

I believe the whole Black Lives Matter is similar. It’s in no way saying that white lives don’t matter or that ALL lives don’t matter. It reflects a concern that in some quarters black people are (perceived to be) treated sub-humanly as if their lives don’t matter.


Susan Popoola is the Managing Director of Conning Towers Ltd, an HR firm focused on Talent Management and HR Transformation for Innovative, High Potential organisations..  She is also the published author of Touching The Heart of Milton Keynes: A Social Perspective and Consequences: Diverse to Mosaic Britain.

Copyright 2015. This document is the specific intellectual property of Susan Popoola. Content may not be reused or reproduced without the specific permission of the owner or a reference to the source.


January 17th, 2015

The Talent Left on Your Doorstep

I was at one of my favourite music venues, The Stables in Milton Keynes on Sunday. I went to listen to a lady named Sally Barker play. If you live in the UK and watched the TV completion, The Voice last year you will probably know who I’m talking as she was the first runner up.

Sally was great on The Voice. I absolutely loved her rendition of songs or better, put her interpretation of them. When I heard that she was going to be playing in Milton Keynes, it was a given that I was going to be there to listen to her.

It was lovely to hear her perform a number of the songs that she had sang on The Voice and I can say that she gives Dionne Warwick a run for her money with her version of “Walk on By”. Equally, it was lovely to hear her sing a number of her own songs that she has written herself over the years. She also does a very good job on the guitar, a skill that she didn’t display whilst she was on The Voice. In addition, I discovered that she has a great sense of humour, she’s a great conversationalist and has a deep interest in history.

I found out that following on from The Voice, she had been offered a contract with Universal Music. She had, however, turned it down. They wanted her to record an album of covers, but she was not satisfied with this. Remember I said she writes her own songs. She therefore wanted to record her own material. She has since re-released one of her older albums, “Maid in England” including some of the songs that she sang on The Voice.

I believe that Sally is a talented, world class performer and that by not accepting her for who she truly is and what she represents and has to offer, Universal Music actually lost out. As she told the story, I found myself thinking of the talent in the workplace.

We typically recruit people on the basis of job descriptions – totally understandable. We’ve got to have some parameters. However, do we ever take the time to understand the additional skills that people have to offer and where appropriate make use of those skills. I’ve seen research that indicates that a third of employees are likely to look for new jobs this year. I believe highly skilled and capable employees that don’t fill full appreciated or utilised are likely to be high on the list of people looking for new opportunities where they will be truly fulfilled.

Equally common, is the habit of recruiting staff with great skills and talents that we identify and indicate that we very much admire during the recruitment process, which we then fail to utilise once they are in our employ. Dictating that they perform a role which does not utilise these capabilities or that they perform tasks in a (procedural) manner that does not optimise that which they have to offer, that we originally said we admire.

It’s not just about talent. I’ve heard people express the frustration that they can’t fully express themselves and be who they are within the workplace. This is especially true of people from diverse backgrounds who have been told that they should act in a certain way in order to conform and be accepted. Yes, there are limits, but do you encourage the people that work with you to freely be who they are within the workplace?

If you do, I believe that you will find yourself with a much fulfilled and effective workforce. If not, I would strongly recommend that you start to do so.


P.S. Oh, and if you appreciate good music; if Sally Barker is ever in your town make sure you go along. I’m sure you won’t be disappointed.

Susan Popoola is an HR Specialist at Conning Towers which specializes in HR Transformation and Talent Management.  Consequences: Diverse to Mosaic Britain which explores Disatisfaction, Disengagement and Diversity within Britain is her second published book.

May 7th, 2012

Showing Racism The Red Card

Show Racism The Red Card

I was recently invited to participate in a “Show Racism The Red Card” parade.

Symbolically it was great  – all the people (predominantly primary school children) – walking around the football pitch

However, although it might not be the objective:
•    I wish there had been a brief announcement highlighting the significance of what was happening as people walked around the field in order to focus people’s mind on what the parade was about and why it was important
•    I wish the parade was closer to kick off  time as opposed to half an hour before the match when the stadium was almost empty.
•    I also wish that the people in the parade truly represented the diversity of the local community – most especially, I wish it was more representative of the people that racism is typically directed at.

Copyright 2012. This document is the specific intellectual property of Susan Popoola. Content may not be reused or reproduced without the specific permission of the owner or a reference to the source. Opinions may be generated

September 5th, 2011

Who Represents Britain?

Many moons ago, in the year 1983 during the era of apartheid South Africa, a young South African girl moved to England, claiming British citizenship so that she could run internationally as South Africa was excluded from international events due to it’s apartheid policy.  When she ran at Crystal Palace the following year it was controversial, but she had ever right to do so as the fact that her grandfather was British gave her the right to British citizenship.

Over the years that have followed there have been numerous different athletes originating from or born in different countries who have represented Britain in International athletics. It’s therefore quite bemusing for people to speak of ‘plastic Brits’.

I must say I am, however, somewhat fascinated by Tiffany Ofili-Porter who says “I could have run for America, I could have run for Nigeria but I choose to run for Britain because I appreciate the support they show for athletics”

The truth is that the diversity of her background and options is very representative of modern day Britain.


Copyright 2011. This document is the specific intellectual property of Susan Popoola. Content may not be reused or reproduced without the specific permission of the owner or a reference to the source. Opinions may be generated