Sarah Gallagher, Legal and IT Director, Tesco Ireland & Tesco Mobile

30th January 2023

This week we talk to Sarah Gallagher, Legal and IT Director at Tesco Ireland and Tesco Mobile. Sarah is a WMB Diversity Ambassador and believes that “Collaborating with colleagues who may have a different outlook or perspective to your own can be crucial when making key strategic decisions.” 

Can you tell our readers a bit about your background and your role at Tesco Ireland?

I work as Legal and IT Director at Tesco Ireland and Tesco Mobile and have been with the business since 2012.  Before I came to Tesco, I worked for four years as Director of Commercial Legal Services at Eir. Prior to this I spent a number of years working in a number of roles with Burberry in London.

What is the best part of your job?

Working for one of the most successful supermarket chains in Europe is both exciting and demanding. One of the best parts about my job is getting to work with some brilliantly talented people who are driven to always work towards making the business the best it can be for customers.

As a WMB Diversity Ambassador, what does DE&I mean to you personally and as a leader?

I am a big believer in DE&I in the workplace. Our colleagues are at the heart of our business and are integral to its success. I believe establishing a better gender balance is important in the creation of a truly diverse and inclusive workplace. Personally, I’m proud to work in a gender balanced organisation – with 50% female representation on Tesco Ireland’s leadership team. As a signatory of the Irish 30% Club, we are committed to increasing gender diversity in senior roles.”

“The most diverse companies are now more likely than ever to outperform less diverse peers on profitability.” (McKinsey).  Is this your experience?

Yes, I have found that to be my experience in my own career. It is so important that you have a good balance of men and women as well people from diverse backgrounds who will all have different skill sets. I also think it’s important to have colleagues who have worked in different sectors who can bring a fresh perspective to modern business where the landscape is always evolving.

Collaborating with colleagues who may have a different outlook or perspective to your own can be crucial when making key strategic decisions.

What DE&I initiatives are in place at Tesco Ireland?

Diversity and Inclusion has always been at the heart of Tesco and is embedded in our values.

We want our colleagues to feel they can be themselves at work and to feel valued and respected, regardless of who they are, where they work and what they do.

Our goal is to build a workplace of equal opportunity; developing a diverse team that represents our evolving communities and a company culture that builds self-esteem and celebrates our colleagues’ unique individualities. We are proud signatories of the Diversity Charter Ireland and the Valuable 500, as well as members of the 30% Club. We have also established an Inclusion and Diversity Council, a cross functional working group of colleagues, the role of which is to champion and enable inclusion and diversity across the business.

In your opinion, do you think voluntary gender quotas work?

I think voluntary gender quotas are important in that they can often encourage conversation and debate around what type of candidate would be best suited to a certain role.

Research (Linkedin Global Talent Trends) shows that soft skills are equally or more important to hire for than hard skills.  Do you agree?

Effective communication is an integral part of how we work. I am a big believer in emotional intelligence and understanding how important that is when it comes to negotiation, teamwork, and collaboration with stakeholders.

Hard skills are of course necessary, particularly in my area, but soft skills are invaluable when it comes to adaptability, managing one’s time and in effective communication.

What current international leader do you admire the most and why?

I would hold the outgoing New Zealand PM Jacinda Ardern in high regard. I think she showed great leadership during the Covid-19 crisis and in the immediate aftermath of the terrorist attacks in Christchurch in 2019. She brought great humanity to the job, and she deserves great credit for that. Her decision to step down showed both strength and humility. It is important to see people put family first if that is their choice.

How can employers support employees through the current ‘cost of living’ crisis?

I think employers can take practical steps to help employees navigate the cost-of-living crisis such as making them aware of tax saving measures like the bike to work scheme and the commuter scheme, and by making access to those schemes as easy as possible. In Tesco we recently ran several workshops on financial planning and advice, which were very well received by colleagues. We have also provided workshops with to help colleagues understand what refunds they are entitled to claim for.

Do women need more flexibility than men?

I think some people may require more flexibility than others based on their own personal circumstances, regardless of whether they are a man or a woman.

Please share a quote or mantra that will inspire others on their career path?

I like this one from Maya Angelou, “Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.”

A little bit about You

If you were a superhero, who would you be?

Wonder Woman of course!

Alternative career choice, no limits!

Editor of Vogue

The person who has influenced you the most.

My Parents and my family

Name three things that you’re passionate about (eg sustainability; great wine; world domination).

Food, Wine, and fashion.