Esther Lumby - Community Engagement Manager (Pearson plc)

Esther is Community Engagement Manager at Pearson.

She is responsible for leading on development of volunteer programmes across Pearson and employee engagement in the community programmes which Pearson run.

She has worked in Corporate Responsibility for 2 years.


Industry: Education

Breadth of role: Community, employee engagement.

What do you do?

I work on developing and delivering volunteering programmes including a School Governors network and our Flagship ‘Booktime’ programme, where staff go into school once a week to volunteer one on one with children to improve their literacy skills. I also oversee a variety of community programmes including Payroll giving, charity matching and our annual Community Awards scheme.

Employee engagement in these programmes is a big part of my role, both making sure people are aware they exist, and then encouraging them to get involved.

How long have you been in your role?

Since September 2012.

What has your journey been to get there?

I have a charity background, so first I worked for WaterAid in the community fundraising team, then I realised I didn’t like asking people for money, but did enjoy the volunteer management side so moved to work at Westminster Volunteer Centre where I led on the delivery of two council funded projects. One involved recruitment and managing volunteers for large scale events and the other was a recruitment drive for more volunteers in grassroots sports clubs. Both projects took place in the run up to the Olympics so there were so many people who wanted to get involved with volunteering.

I then worked as an employee volunteer broker, matching employees from Westminster based companies with volunteering opportunities in local charities. That’s when I really began to get interested in Corporate Responsibility, particularly the employee engagement side, so started studying part time for a masters in CR before starting at Pearson nine months later.

What qualifications do you have?

I have a BA in Geography and Planning, and am currently studying part time for a masters in Corporate Responsibility and Sustainability. The masters is really helpful for my job and helps me to learn about areas which aren’t covered by my role, but gives the potential for me to  maybe move into those areas in the future. I have also met some really interesting other CR professionals and enjoying learning from them.

What is the best part about your job?

I enjoy meeting people from all parts of Pearson, my role isn’t restricted to the team I work in. I also love that I have the opportunity to get people out of their usual work environment and trying something completely different.

Would you recommend going into CSR and why?

Yes of course! It feels like it’s a fairly new career path for people to take, and I think many people have ended up in CR roles almost by accident, but in the short time I’ve been involved with CR things seem to be rapidly changing and progressing. Increasingly it’s a profession which people now want to gain a qualification in and see as something which they can specialise in. Also it’s so varied, community engagement, sustainability, responsible procurement, supply chains, diversity all sit under the CR banner, but need very different skills and expertise so it’s a really interesting and diverse profession to work in.

What’s in the pipe-line over the next year?

Three are two projects which I’m excited about, firstly we are re-launching our internal staff community awards, which recognise and celebrate staff who give their own time to volunteer in the community. These are global and it’s really interesting hearing about all the projects which Pearson employees get involved with around the world. I’m looking forwards to communicating the awards as widely as possible and aim to generate a buzz around the company when we announce the winners.

We are also beginning to look at offering more volunteer opportunities globally, a lot of our programmes are very UK/US based so we want to do more to offer similar opportunities in other countries where we have offices.

Where do you report to in the organisation?

I am in the public affairs team, which sits in Corporate affairs.

Who would be your ideal dinner guests (dead or alive)?

Dawn French, Michael McIntyre, Mark Twain, David Attenborough, Road Dahl, Barack Obama, Nelson Mandela, Bill Gates (he can pay) and probably three of my close friend – Laura, Annette and Emily, so we could giggle afterwards about how crazy it was to be sitting having dinner with those people!

If I can also choose the chef it would be a Mary Berry and Jamie Oliver double act. Good old British grub would be served.

What superpower would you like to have and what would you do with it?

I’d like to be able to teleport myself to anywhere in the world within seconds. I’m not very good at sitting still so get bored and fidgety easily when travelling, I don’t even enjoy the tube and prefer cycling around. Imagine how much extra time I’d have!

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