Andrea Penman is the London office manager of Marks & Clerk Patent and Trade Mark Attorneys. She joined the firm last September from Devereux Chambers and before that ran her own consultancy business. Penman also served as a non-executive board director for the Medway NHS Foundation Trust and is on the Lord Chancellor’s Advisory Committee
What are the key elements of your role?
As London office manager I am responsible for managing such things as property and facilities management, staff management, human resources. I also act as a conduit and interpreter between the partnership and the support staff to ensure a smooth flow of information and that the right level of support is provided to deliver the business.
What are the main challenges for managing the London office of Marks & Clerk?
The business of Marks & Clerk has grown and so in turn so has the support staff function in order to meet the firm’s demands. The challenge for me now is to harness their skills and expertise and to provide a modern, ‘fit for purpose’ framework to ensure that the business can continue to build on its excellent reputation for efficiency and cost-effectiveness.
You served on the board of Medway NHS Foundation Trust and you’re on the Lord Chancellor’s Advisory Committee. How do you fit everything in?
I have always set self-imposed tighter deadlines to ensure that all commitments I promise to are met and delivered. I ran my own business for 14 years while raising a young family, and with a husband working abroad during the week, so I have learnt to prioritise and deliver results while achieving balance.
If you weren’t at Marks & Clerk, what else would you be doing?
I have been very fortunate in that I have had a varied and fulfilling career in both the private and public sectors, and have been able to couple my career with making a voluntary contribution to society, which I enjoy immensely. I can honestly say that I really enjoy my ‘lot’ – though I can’t deny that winning the lottery isn’t something I’d turn down.
In reality, if I wasn’t at Marks & Clerk, I think I would relish the opportunity to work in the voluntary sector – perhaps that’s something for when I retire.
What are the most significant external issues that currently have an impact on your role?
Few businesses have been immune to the challenges of the past five years. It means service providers and suppliers are operating in a very competitive environment. At Marks & Clerk, this often means that my time is spent fielding sales calls from organisations that we may wish to use in the future but not right now. I regularly have to be polite but firm with them. The same is true of the employment market – we may want to consider people at a later date so I have to make sure I do not put them off.
Who would you most like to get stuck in a lift with and why?
I’m actually claustrophobic and the idea of getting stuck in a lift horrifies me. Therefore, were I to be stuck in a lift, it would have to be with Nelson Mandela. His endless incarceration for his beliefs and principles was humbling and I know that the knowledge of this fact alone would render me incapable of complaining and behaving badly. It would also give me the opportunity to ask him many questions as to how he was able to be so entirely selfless and what drives his capacity for forgiveness.
LLP Members: 63
UK Offices: 8
Operating Profit (UK LLP Board): £15.9M
“Our most valuable commodity in the business is the people we employ. Both this role and other similar roles I have held have taught me that while on the face of it the nature of issues that arise are very similar, no two people are the same. I have learnt that the only way to deal with this is to be firm but fair and to treat everyone as one would wish to be treated oneself; openly, honestly and transparently – dignity and respect are key.”
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