You can't grow in your comfort zone: Lisa Bent on counselling, HR and self-awareness.

We sat down with author and SEEN Connects Head of HR Lisa Bent to discuss her story, her books and how counselling shaped her approach to Human Resources.

You're the Head of HR. How did you get into that? 


I fell into HR. At the time, I was a counsellor but needed a break. I took a receptionist role at an international media company. A PA position became available. I applied and got the job. Working closely with the international president was interesting and full-on. After 7 months, I missed working with an array of people so enquired about other opportunities. My boss told me there a HR Assistant position available and I transferred two weeks later. That is how I got in.


You're also an author. Can you explain your book Simona's Still Single?


It's about Symone Brown, a 37-year-old black woman from South London who is worried about her ticking biological clock. I take readers through her past to understand her present, with the hope she can change her future. I wanted to bring to light the anxious conversations that exist amongst close friends and give voice to this and dating issues from a black British perspective. So many more Black British authors have emerged since I was published in 2020 which is amazing. 


What are some key messages you hope readers take away?


That self-love is first love. You're not alone in your struggles. Healthy relationships can't come from fantasy.

Symona's Still Single, Lisa Bent

Can you share an example of how your work has affected someone?


As an HR professional, I helped an employee relocate to America. Though I left that company 9 years ago, he still messages me each Christmas, updating me on his life and thanking me even though he doesn't have to. As an author, I sometimes get lovely messages about how my book resonatedAs a counsellor, seeing my clients heal from emotional difficulties is always moving. There have been numerous memorable moments throughout. 


What do you think is the biggest misconception about HR?


That we just just hire and fire. I really dislike that term. We're actually people champions, commercially aware, and care for employees holistically. We ensure workers feel heard, valued, and recognised. Our value is so much more than people realise. I'd love to change the narrative on what HR does.


What's had the biggest impact on your career?


Counselling, because it's helped me understand myself and show up fully as a result. I have empathy yet accountability. I care about communication and individuals. My HR approach is holistic because everyone is different. Counselling has positively impacted everything — relationships, work, life.

Based on your experience, what advice would you give someone starting an HR career today?


There's no one route into HR. But understand the importance of boundaries, confidentiality, and being a people champion. Continuous development is a must to stay current. Have a rounded knowledge of politics, finance, wellbeing trends, etc; to advise the business. Diverse skills are a strength, not a weakness. A colourful CV is an asset. 


What are some common truths or similarities you've noticed in the people you've counselled?


From a psychological perspective, our adult selves are informed by our childhoods - that's true of everyone. A commonality is that people naturally resist self-reflection. Society can be blamed, but I come from a place of asking "What role did you play?" and "How can you respond differently?" You can't control others, only yourself. So, in any situation, what can you do to feel heard, empowered, and express yourself? I may work with the other party, but also encourage personal accountability. 


Pushing introspection outside of the counselling room doesn’t happen. In politics, parties just blame each other instead of taking responsibility. The same applies in business. I can speak to one person but also ask "How will you show up differently to improve this?" People become powerless without self-inquiry. Counselling aims to provide lifelong tools to take responsibility for shaping your life by becoming more self-aware.


I think there’s a misconception that counselling is only for when something bad happens.


Yes, I think America has a different approach — counselling is seen as necessary for balance, awareness, and taking control of your life. Here the stigma is you only go when you hit rock bottom, but that's too late. It's not too late to get help, but issues could be addressed sooner. If we were more self-aware, we'd know unhealthy habits can cause imbalance and deteriorating mental health. We can see problematic behaviours and make changes before reaching crisis. But with little promotion of self-inquiry, problems escalate.


The modern world contributes to these issues. Do you think counselling could help?


Life will always have ups and downs — that's its purpose. You can’t grow in your comfort zone. Would life look different if counselling was taught in schools? Yes. Students would gain helpful tools before adulthood. Is it realistic for teachers to provide this on top of their workload? No. But adults who see counselling positively could parent in more well-rounded, empathetic ways, instilling resilience in children. With early skills, youth may become more self-aware adults. I'm very passionate about normalising counselling!


What projects are you currently working on that you're excited about?


On the book front, I'm working on a sequel to Symona’s Still Single. In my HR role, it's always about adding value for employees, creating opportunities, and building an inclusive workforce.


Thanks Lisa!




Lisa Bent

This website uses cookies. By using this website and its content you accept these cookies.
Learn more