· Features

Lessons from the C-suite: Pascale Harvie, Justgiving

The senior vice president of online fundraising platform Justgiving shares leadership tips and her view of HR at the top.

I started out… in corporate sales and marketing management, working across various sectors from pest control to music. After my daughters were born, I decided to venture into the not-for-profit sector for the first time. I worked for a number of high-profile and impactful charities doing great things for people in need, such as Oxfam and Childwise.

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I’ve been lucky to experience… a range of different industries, businesses and roles, and have enjoyed the rich learnings that come from such a varied professional journey.

One constant throughout my career has been my love for leading, motivating and mentoring teams. I was promoted to my first management role at 25 and it was an absolute eye-opener. Learning how to get the most out of people is such a skill and you have to work at it all the time.  

I knew this was the right career path for me when… I realised I could combine my passion for technology with my desire to do good. It is possible to enjoy the excitement and innovation that comes from the former with the sense of pride and accomplishment that comes from the latter. 

The biggest lesson I’ve learned along the way… is how much you can achieve if you empower your team. It’s vital to give people licence to explore, experiment and make mistakes, while showing a sense of energy and enthusiasm. If you’re passionate, people will think ‘she’s moving in an exciting direction – I’m going with her on the journey.’

My proudest achievement… Challenging my mindset when it comes to work and my career. When I started out, work was my priority, and I was guilty of letting my hobbies and relationships fall by the wayside. Embracing balance has been key in making me a better leader. 

My biggest mistake… The biggest and most simple was never asking for help. This is a challenge that many women face – we can feel that it shows weakness.   

My biggest inspiration… Jacinda Ardern: she’s a perfect example of how women can be formidable and thoughtful, competent and kind. She has demonstrated how empathy empowers leaders and is shaping the future of leadership both in politics and in business.

If you can’t bring a team of people with you, you have no business

Keeping me awake at night right now… How we continually innovate to help charities tackle some of the huge issues they’re facing. When the pandemic hit, we moved quickly to help charities adapt the way they were fundraising. Now the third sector is having to adapt again to cope with the cost of living crisis. Tech has an important role to play in helping them do that.

The biggest challenge for organisations over the next five years will be… Ensuring the wellbeing of employees in a remote-first, post-pandemic world. Open, honest and regular communication will be crucial. 

I need my HR director… To be a true partner, expert and be willing to challenge. Every business has gone through huge amounts of change. There’s so many opportunities now to make things better, implement and establish new ways of working, keep employees motivated and help them handle the difficult things happening in the world. 

It annoys me when HR... Operate according to the manual and overlook the human elements.

More HRDs would become CEO if… The best HR professionals I’ve worked with have had an ability to combine warmth with the authority to have difficult conversations, when necessary, all while crafting and carrying a positive culture. Those are the most important building blocks. If you can’t bring a team of people with you, you have no business.

What I’m reading right now… The Seven Sisters by Lucinda Riley.

My top leadership tip… Put simply, it’s about ‘We’ not ‘I’.


Pascale Harvie is senior vice president of Justgiving