‘If our customers are winning, we’re winning’ - an interview with Lyndsay Jones, new VP Commercial EMEA at LGC Standards
LGC Standards recently appointed Lyndsay Jones as its Commercial Vice President for the Europe, Middle East, and Africa region. After obtaining a BA in European Marketing from the University of Humberside, Lyndsay worked in marketing and brand management roles across a wide range of sectors – from food to soft drinks and household goods to personal care. She first joined LGC as its Global Head of Marketing: Applied Testing in 2018, and was promoted to Commercial Director in 2020. She lives in Warrington in Cheshire with her partner Gavin, her 12-year-old son, Cameron, and a Poochon dog named Dennis. In her spare time, Lyndsay loves being active with her family – with following football and playing competitive tennis among her main interests.
Can you tell us something about your commercial career so far? What are the business and personal lessons you’ve learned?
After my degree, I started mainly on consumer brands. I've done quite a lot of aisles in a supermarket, is the way I like to describe it! I then moved to look after private label, working predominantly with retailers, and spent a large part of my career at McBride plc, which is the number one contract manufacturer for private label household products in Europe.
As my career developed, I grew into a more commercial role, being responsible for major retailers: like Costco in the US, Tesco, and ALDI, to name a few. What motivates me is the challenge of driving the commercial agenda, so looking after Tesco as a key account, and winning business with the number one retailer in the UK, was an aspect that really inspired me. But I think probably the standout was getting a brand licensing agreement with Unilever off the ground - I built the relationship with them, and then we launched the Persil brand into a whole new category of dishwasher tablets and dishwashing liquid.
What do you think are your strengths?
Understanding customers, first and foremost. I also like to think I’m good at motivating a team. I lead by example, I’m quite hands on, and generally I bring positivity, energy, enthusiasm, and a drive to win. I know it's a cliché, but I like to work hard, I like to play hard, and I really enjoy what I do.
With the customer, and in my personal life, my nature is inherently quite competitive. And in a business context, that competitiveness is all about doing what's best for the business and driving the business forward.
What excites you about your new role as VP Commercial, EMEA?
There are a couple of things: firstly, the opportunity to build a new team and drive towards a new way of working. And then, for me personally, it's learning about some of the new areas of the business that I haven't been involved with before.
Overall, I think it's about our ability to develop and grow into a high performing team to deliver for our customers. The pivot that we're making with our new structure is to be much more customer-centric and customer-focused. And that really excites me in terms of: ‘How do we get closer to our customers so that we can serve them better?’ But also ‘How can we win more business?’
What advice would you give to young women getting into leadership?
The first thing I would say is: ‘Think about what you enjoy, and what motivates you.’ The other piece of advice is: ‘Be authentic, and be yourself.’ That way, you can focus on things that really inspire you. And then it doesn't really feel like a job and like work - because it's something that you really are so motivated and excited by that it becomes about enjoyment, and fulfilment.
And what’s it like to be a female leader at LGC?
I've always been fortunate to work at companies where people aren’t treated differently on the basis of gender. We had a leadership team meeting at LGC recently, and I didn't notice any difference between what I was doing and saying, and what the rest of the team were doing and saying. For me personally, I think the key is being the right person with the right skills and the right attitude. It's about letting your strengths, your skills and your personality shine through, rather than a focus on gender. I think it's great to be able to get a gender balance, but I don’t sense that I’ve been held back in any way. Here at LGC, I feel like a very key part of the team. I feel involved, I feel included. I don't feel like I play any kind of a different role to anybody else. We're a team that works really well together.
You’re also a woman in charge of LGC Standards’ biggest region. How do you feel about that?
I’m really quite proud of myself. The way I look at it is that I've worked hard, and done a good job. That's been recognised by the company, because they've put their faith in me with the biggest region, and over half of the business unit budget is within my remit.
From a commercial perspective, I've also got the biggest team within the business unit, which is a real privilege. I think it's a reflection of the way that I work really hard, but also my attitude and approach to work. I think about the team, about the business, and I think ‘How do we win as a business?’ ‘How do we really support our customers so that they can win?’ Because if our customers are winning, we’re winning.
What does Science for a safer world mean to you? And how can LGC Standards help achieve it?
As a non-scientist, joining LGC was an enormously steep learning curve. I remember vividly one of the first meetings I went to, where they were talking about this amazing new product they’d developed, and all of the scientific detail. Everybody was so excited about the science behind this product, and I remember asking the question: ‘What's going to make a customer buy it?’ And there was a moment of silence, followed by a fabulous discussion about how to make the science work for the customer.
One of the things I'm really quite proud of bringing to LGC is that, while I'm not a scientist, I do have a lot of commercial skills. And what I've helped to do is transition us so that, as the market has evolved and become more competitive, LGC has evolved and become more commercial. We have some amazing scientists, but what needed enhancing was more commercial skills to really promote those products out into the market, and to talk to customers about them. And between the two, that's what leads to success for us all.