An interview with Vanessa O'Shea, author of Shaping your Workplace Culture: A practical guide


An interview with Vanessa O'Shea, author of  shaping your Workplace Culture: A practical guide

We caught up with Vanessa O'Shea following the launch of her first book 'Shaping your Workplace Culture: A practical guide'. 

This is your first book. Tell us what it’s about. 

It’s a book that demystifies workplace culture by giving tangible examples that illustrate how workplace culture impacts on morale, motivation, performance. It walks the reader through a blueprint of shaping culture in the form of a 4-part model.

As culture is somewhat of a nebulous concept, I run a narrative through it with a fictional company with an aim to illustrate how culture outworks in the day-to-day. I also used lots of case studies help bring it to life. 

What inspired you to write it?

It was written as a result of 2 decades of working within the field of HR, where I began to realise that the issues I was bought in to deal with, such as poor performance, regular absence, high turnover, were often merely symptoms of a more fundamental issue that was woven into the fabric of the organisation; culture.

In 2013, I left my job, became a freelance consultant, and designed and trialled a model for shaping culture in one of my contracts. The book is the result of a desire to expose the model to a much wider distribution than I could do by myself.  

Who should be reading it?

HR or Change Managers, who want a tool to take into their team or to their clients. Those with responsibility for people (volunteers or paid staff) such as the CEO of a small business or Manager/Team leader. And anyone else, as its usually possible to impact your culture to some degree whatever role or position you have. It’s concise, as it’s written with busy in people in mind and can be read in a couple of hours.

Do you have any advice for anyone wanting to shape their culture?

I would point you to the 4 parts of my model which are:

Know your mission, identify your values, put them into action, and develop the personal qualities in your leaders/everyone that will enable that culture to strengthen.

If you are in a start-up, the ideal time is now. Decide what your values are and begin to demonstrate them yourself thereby setting the culture from the outset.

How are you building on the book? What next?

I’m about to start recording a short series of podcasts, each taking a theme from my book, where I will be interviewing some leaders who have created healthy, but very different cultures; hopefully out in May.

I will be running some workshops, including one for start-ups to get started on creating a good workplace culture from the outset.

I am meeting with businesses and charities to discuss potential consultancies around all aspects of shaping a healthy culture. If any chamber members have a culture-related issued that they would like to talk about or a recurring hr issue that is hard to get to the bottom of, then I’m very happy to give an hour’s complimentary consultation for the price of a coffee!

How can we find out more about all that you are up to?

I will regularly post those details in my newsletter which you can sign up via this link:

or you can email me via

Finally, how can we get hold of your book?

Two ways: either from me directly (why not meet me for coffee at the same time?) or from Amazon.

Thank you to Vanessa for writing this blog. 

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