Reading Hannah Gräfin von Waldersee’s bio is like reading Forbes bucket list of “coolest jobs to hold in your lifetime.”
She has traveled and worked all over the world, originated a Chief of Staff role at Buckingham Palace, and she most recently led Declare, an enterprise solution to accelerate women into leadership, as COO and then CEO.
Now she is Vice President, Strategy and Innovation at Insight Partners, and when she volunteered to Mentor at The Forem, we were thrilled to bring her empathy, expertise, and insight to our community.
Hannah knows that careers are not always straightforward, and an outside voice can help you hone in on your passion and values.
“I haven’t stuck to one function, company, type of organization, or industry in my career,” Hannah reflected. “But the key is that I know what I need from my environment to thrive.”
My deepest-held values are responsibility, excellence, and decency. These actually came to me on a yoga mat in Bali. (Name a more clichéd career development moment, I’ll wait.)”
(Yes, we’re having epiphany envy!)
Hannah’s understanding of her own, deeply held values make her an incredible resource and mentor.
“I hesitate to describe it as “expertise” but I’m always keen to really dive into the underlying mindset or belief which is holding someone back. These negative mindsets or beliefs are like Dementors in Harry Potter, and my job as mentor is to help you summon your Patronus.”
And no one is better suited to work through perceived challenges or setbacks than Hannah.
She survived a near-fatal road traffic accident in 2015 (and has her family, husband, and loved ones to thank for helping her find the strength to survive a coma and numerous broken bones).
Just a few years ago, she was passed over for a job she thought was perfect and was absolutely devastated.
“Three weeks later, a totally unique opportunity came up,” Hannah reflected. “I couldn’t believe how lucky I’d been to stay in the market.”
Her biggest takeaway at this point in her career? Careers are not always clear-cut, and it is the people around us who can help us stay true to our passions.
That is why mentoring is such a critical component of The Forem, and why Hannah was eager to volunteer and pay it forward.
“I love the moments during a mentor session when you feel like you made a breakthrough together by talking through a knotty problem and reaching some new clarity,” Hannah explained. “It’s always a two-way street between the mentor and the mentee.”
Book: “The Master and Margarita, by Mikhail Bulgakov. It’s just wild.”
Education: “I’d love to give a shout-out to the amazing stories shared in our newsletter and blog, which you can sign up for at www.Insightpartners.com. Everything we learn by supporting software ScaleUp companies through phases of rapid, substantial growth is captured right there. It’s a goldmine!”
Hannah read French and Russian at Magdalen College, Oxford University from 2010-2014, and spent her year abroad working for an educational consultancy in Moscow, a law firm in Paris, and completing an internship at McKinsey in London. After graduating, she worked for a tech start-up in travel and tourism in Barcelona before rejoining McKinsey in September 2015. As a generalist management consultant, Hannah advised clients from the private, public, and third sectors on diverse situations including a global pharmaceutical merger, a due diligence on a French retail asset, and a large-scale capital infrastructure project.
Hannah then rotated into a role with Dame Vivian Hunt, who led McKinsey in the UK and Ireland, helping to co-ordinate a demanding programme of office commitments, board roles, and external speaking engagements. Hannah left McKinsey to be the first ever Chief of Staff to the Master of the Queen’s Household, Vice-Admiral Tony Johnstone-Burt, who is responsible for all events, logistics, services and operations at Buckingham Palace and across the occupied royal palaces.
Most recently Hannah led Declare, an enterprise solution to accelerate women into leadership, as COO and then CEO. Under her leadership, Declare quadrupled program output, increased engagement by 60% during COVID-19, and was successfully acquired by Luminary, a fellow collaboration hub for professional women.
Hannah is now Vice President, Strategy and Innovation at Insight Partners.