International Women’s Day – Philip Morris Limited

Celebrating the influential women across convenience

Laura McDermaid, area activation manager for Scotland at Philip Morris Limited.

This post was written in collaboration with Phillip Morris Limited.

Laura McDermaid, area activation manager for Scotland at Philip Morris Limited

How is diversity & inclusion a key foundation at your own organisation?

At Philip Morris Limited (PML), we have multiple employee resource groups (ERGs) promoting inclusion and diversity. The Women’s Inspiration Network (WIN) is one that I have been involved with during my time at PML.

With all ERGs, these are run by employees who are passionate about their own inclusion and diversity along with allies too, in order to create a culture in which people feel safe and supported at work.

Do you feel a positive culture being in place helps you cement business relationships?

Yes – when I feel emotionally safe and supported from the business, I am more likely to put all my effort into building confident relationships both internally and externally. Having multiple positive female role models within the firm has also helped me build and extend business relationships, without the thought of discrimination.

Tell us about your own success story, positive experiences etc?

Throughout my 7 years at PML, I have had different roles and responsibilities across the UK, all which have been centred around people management, and the growth of our people and our culture. The one thing I have enjoyed the most is learning from my managers and applying this to my own team in order to build and create a positive culture.

Almost 5 years ago, I was on maternity leave to have my son, and enjoyed a whole year with him before coming back to work. I am sure a lot of people can relate, that this in itself was a major moment in both my personal and work life, my work-life balance had, naturally, changed.

The leadership team at PML helped me through this transition and the support I gained from the business was unprecedented. I was able to come back to work and be open and honest about how I felt and what support I needed.

With the support of the employee resource group WIN, I know I have a group of supportive people I can go to with any issue I face, and my colleagues know they have me as a resource too, if needed. As mentioned above, I have also had a few women role models within the business for me to aspire to. The guidance I have had from these women has helped massively.

What opportunities are there for career evolution within your company?

Philip Morris has one of the best career support systems I have worked with. I am supported within my current role, and if there is anything I feel I need to develop on, I can openly ask for further training.

Along with this, I can also be open about my career development interests, and I know I will be supported for future roles I may be interested in, even out with of my current department.

What challenges have you overcome in the past in this regard?

I have been in many situations where I have been both uncomfortable and disrespected, but I think the hardest thing to overcome is being completely disregarded.

People have often assumed I am ‘being trained’ or I ‘know nothing’ when I am with male peers. Having to ‘prove your worth’ or explain in every instance that you know what you are talking about is emotionally and physically exhausting.

What has your experience been like as a woman working in your field?

Having worked in this sector for over a decade, I can confidently say that culture has definitely had a shift, but also has a long way to go. I have been the youngest, the only female and the only mum in a lot of situations with external business partners.

I wish I could say all have been a positive experience but, unfortunately, I have been in situations where I have been uncomfortable and even disrespected for all of the above reasons. In recent years, I have definitely seen an improvement with less assumptions and more acceptance within the sector.

I firmly believe this is down to articles like this highlighting more women in the sector and more people supporting events like International Women’s Day.


Click here to read more about the inspiring and influential women working across the convenience retail sector.