Mira Magecha: Interim Chief People Officer, Just Eat

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My Native Admission Statement: My passion is solving key business problems and developing the best possible outcome, building diverse teams to help solve the problem. Commercial, pragmatic, globally experienced, people leader with a passion, desire and proven ability to deliver business results. My experience has been built delivering successful transformation programmes across different industries primarily focused on Operating Model and people delivery. I work with and influence at all levels within an organisation. I’m passionate about helping and supporting people through their career / growth journey.

I’m told I build great teams, it’s true I love working with different people, with different perspectives and diverse teams see different solutions to the same problem.

Bio: Mira was appointed as Interim Chief People Officer at Just Eat in September 2018. Prior to that she was International People Director supporting Just Eat through its growth and multiple global acquisitions. Prior to joining the business, Mira was an Independent Consultant having spent six years leading employee transformation programmes and teams at Capgemini. Mira has extensive experience leading people, building high performing teams and designing and supporting organisational change.

How did you get into the industry?

Strangely, I seem to be one of the very few people who ended up in the same field as the one I studied. I read Human Resource Management at the University of Derby, and then did my MA at Westminster. I’m not entirely sure where that decision comes from - except when I went to college and sat in the ‘library’ had to make a choice about what to study. I think about is as one of those moments in life.

How at the age of 17 was I meant to know what I wanted to do when I grew up (if even that is a thing)? I chose the HR route, and on the journey discovered a real passion for business and people - how people are the most important driver for any organisation. Getting the talent approach and how people connect to business is critical to ensuring a business’s success.

Any emerging industry trends?

Today, I lead a fast paced, forward looking, energetic HR team in an industry that is also hugely dynamic and fast paced. In the last four years the world has changed, it's got smaller (not literally of course), teams collaborate on projects in real-time, teams span geographies as well as specialisms, expectations rise and our industry and our people’s expectations change with it… it’s an exciting place to be.

Any industry opportunities or challenges?

The most successful businesses focus on diversity. I don’t mean diversity in a narrow sense of the word, such as gender, ethnicity, disability etc - I mean diversity in the broadest sense.

I’m referring to intersectionality, and yes it is a buzzword of 2019, but it's a term that fills a void. With diversity focussing on people with certain characteristics and inclusion looking at how everyone can bring their whole selves to work, intersectionality fills the gap between the two.

This concept is fundamental to any form of diversity. It refers to the appreciation that someone is not just one thing, they are a combination of different characteristics and demographics, and the attempt to understand the impact of these varying characteristics to one’s life, both in and out of the workplace.

Therefore the impact diversity has on the availability of products and services, the skills, the people that you have within an organisation are fundamental, but so is where / who you select to buy your products or services from. Often businesses are seen to pay lip service to diversity by having great material on what they mean by diversity, what they do in this space, but where businesses choose to buy from and the ecosystem that they work within often tells a customer more about whether they really hold true to the belief.

How do you motivate others?

I don’t see myself as an inspirational leader, primarily because I’m inspired by so many different types of people and therefore I’m being inspired, rather than feeling that I’m doing the inspiring. I suppose I am and there are people that tell me I inspire them and am someone they look up to (scary).

My motto genuinely is to be honest with people and treat people like adults. I tend to be able to talk to people even when it’s a difficult conversation. I try to start by talking about the outcome that we are looking for and why the current set-up or ways of working aren’t working. I tend to be able to help people better see themselves and hold an honest mirror up to them… as I’ve learnt there are lots of people out there that find this really tough.

Career advice to those in your industry?

Don’t give up. If you have an aspiration or a goal, keep going for it. Don’t let anyone put you in a box or make you feel like you have to limit where you can get to - but make sure you enjoy the journey along the way - don’t run so fast at something that you forget to look around and acknowledge how far you’ve already come, take stock and remember to celebrate. But most importantly, don’t forget who you are and where you have come from - embrace your differences, make them be the reason you are you.

What do I do best?

Develop and deliver pragmatic solutions. I’m described as a person who can navigate around complex situations - breaking down silos and really working through what to do to get to the required outcomes.

What makes me the best version of myself?

Hard work in essence, I come for the East End of London, from a working class background and have had to work for everything I have / don’t have today. I’m one of the second generation Indian migrants who came to the UK, however the only one of my siblings that was born in the UK. My parents taught us to be independent, respectful and to take nothing for granted - that’s what makes me who I am.

What are my aspirations?

My aspiration is to fund my own community-based charity - it’s a loose aspiration, but being able to set up a charity (without the need to constantly fundraise). A charity, that can make a fundamental difference to the lives of those in that community is something that I’d really love to achieve.

That’a a personal goal, but I don’t think it’s mutually exclusive from a business perspective either - it’s based on a real connection with people and community - and the belief that all of us are part of the world, everyone, regardless of the start they have had, should have the opportunity to dream their own dreams and have the opportunity to realise them.

My Biggest Success?

Wow, I don’t think I’ve made it yet - there is so much more to do (there is hope though). My biggest success … I honestly don’t know. Ummm …

My Most Challenging Moment?

I decided almost 5/6 years ago to change most things in my life (my job, where I live, my friends, my hobbies - I pressed pause and refreshed - I spent time getting to know me again). It was a difficult and exhausting period, I was lost, I didn’t have the comforts I previously sought or at least they didn’t provide the same comfort anymore.

I had to get up, stand up and start over and really push myself. I am so grateful for the friends that stayed with me and helped me when so many just walked away and I’m so grateful for the new friends I made - they know this now - but at the time they had no idea what was going on and how much I needed them - they are friends for life! Thank you.

It’s a moment I refer back to all the time as a reminder to be mindful about the invisible life everyone has. The old age saying - don’t judge [a book by its cover], it’s really true - everyone has something going on (no matter how big or small) and in all my interactions with people I should be mindful of that.

My Motto?

Be present in the moment - don’t get distracted!

My Favorite People/Role Models?

My favorite people are the real ones, I’m relatively down to earth (yes I am) and for me it’s not ‘the famous hero/heroine on our screens, but people I can connect with. I’ve met people in my everyday work that are role models in one way or another. I’m inspired by real life stories, overcoming challenges and those who are highly driven to achieve.

My Favorite Places/Destinations?

I love going to beautiful beaches. It’s important to take time out from work and just exist, unwind and centre myself and they’re somewhere where I really feel at home, where I can reconnect with me.

My Current Passions?

I’m passionate about life - if you keep a focus on that every day, you’ll always achieve something. Yes, everyone says that… but it’s true… my other passions are yoga, wine - red wine really - complete amateur and I have so much to learn, but I love wine. Then there’s food - I love eating, but I would also love to be a chef - in fact my best friend wrote a cookbook and I was the food modeller, my sister the photographer - I would love to publish a book… as you can see there are so many things I could do - if I had more hours in the day. These are all outside of my worklife and I love what I do for a living.

The other thing I’ve just started is collecting stories about my parents and their / my history, if I don’t collect these stories soon it could be too late and I want to understand more about what they went through, their adventures and stories. I have a large family with 6 sisters, and lots of aunts and uncles.

My Daily Thoughts:

Goal of the Day: Achieve something no matter how big or small. Make someone smile.

Thought of the Day: Today’s the day - I’m going to start exercising again!

Action of the Day: Leave work at a sensible time and get to yoga practise

Deed of the Day: Help where you can, help with a bag or pram, buy someone that’s struggling some food, provide feedback that will help someone, listen - there are so many things that go by unsaid - start appreciating the little things

Tip of the Day: Be genuine to yourself

A Day in My Life:

What do you love most about Your City?

The architecture, London is the most amazing city in the sun, the snow and the rain too. I live opposite a park and my view out along the park is just stunning!

Favorite breakfast meal & restaurant?

My sister’s kitchen - she makes the best fruit salad in the entire world - what a perfect way to start the day.

My mum is by far the best cook in the world, I’m sure that is standard - but she is. Her vegetarian meals are the best in the world. However, I’m not a vegetarian so I love food, I don’t eat beef or very much red meat - I think I should be a vegetarian, but I’m not.

I love eating out, but struggle with the word favorite, I don’t do favourites I love the variety and I love food - I pass on this question.

What are you doing at:

6:00 AM – sleeping

10:00 AM - working / speaking to colleagues - I spend a substantial part of my day talking to colleagues, through all sorts of solutions - or sometimes just listening to them and helping them develop their own solution

12:00 PM - Favorite Lunch spot/meal?

Ohhh this is hard, I like food and lots of different types of food… favourite lunch at the moment is from a Sri Lankan food stall - the chicken kottu is amazing and reminds me of my trip to Sri Lanka

7:00 PM - In my mind, feeling guilty that I’m not at yoga practise and thinking I should be, ideally in yoga practise or sometimes I’ll be just leaving work!

11:00 PM - Sleeping I hope!

What drink do you need to get through the day and at the end (and how many)?

Mint tea, I don’t drink coffee but I wish I did, I love the idea and am an aspirational coffee drinker! My partner loves coffee, so I explore coffee through him.

Most used App/Favorite Instagram Account?

Whatsapp / LinkedIn… I also switch off at the moment by playing word games on my phone - it’s clearly a fad.

What should everyone try at least once?

Diving out of a plane, holidaying on your own, leaving your phone behind and being present in the moment. Escaping into your own thoughts.

Where do you enjoy getting lost?

I love exploring new places. I love getting to a new city, putting the map down and wandering around and seeing where we end up. I love exploring, I often say I know where I am and then take one wrong turn and end up in the wrong place - oops!

My Pic of the Day:

This box of matches reminds me of my childhood and the big smile on my face when my Dad showed me the ‘millions of boxes of matches’. We are 7 sisters and as the youngest I decided I was the one on the left! I think I have the only box still in existence and it makes me smile.

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