Alumni Services

Lisa Thomson

French and Politics graduate Lisa Thomson is realising her ambition of growing her own business - a niche provider of outsourced HR consultancy and services.


Lisa Thomson


MA French and Politics

Year of graduation 2004

Your time at the University  

Lisa Thomson

I chose Edinburgh as it was a perfect distance from my home in Fife – a bit further than St. Andrews (so I could move out from home!) but still easily accessible and a short trip back to visit family, and with a fantastic location, culture, reputation and teaching/learning opportunity.

I was also extremely lucky and privileged to have been offered a financial academic scholarship package by the University to support my learning during my studies.

I truly loved living and studying in Edinburgh and all the advantages that the city offered but also the international links made. I had the privilege to take an Erasmus year studying at Sciences Po in Grenoble, France and also spent a summer teaching English in Spain (near Bilbao) with thanks to links and connections made through the University.

In later years since graduating, I have returned due to personal language night class studies (Spanish and Italian) and my links with the Entrepreneurship club and associations.

Your experiences since leaving the University

I started my HR career with Wolfson Microelectronics, a university spin-out semiconductor engineering business which grew to a global business post-IPO. I then worked for a privately-owned global helpdesk software technology company with 250 staff, then moving on to support the growth of a healthcare technology and services company from inception to post-investment commercialisation. I built my HR career within high growth technology companies and was privileged to work with, and for, some very inspiring and innovative founders and management teams.

During my career I had gained niche skills and experience, built a very strong network and had developed a comprehensive suite of HR tools and templates which could be tailored and implemented for clients. I wanted to take this to market. I have always had a keen interest in technology and innovation and could see the potential and growth in these sectors both in Scotland and globally.

My ambition was always to build and grow my own business hence I founded Purpose HR in 2014. We are a niche provider of outsourced HR consultancy and services to early stage and high growth businesses in the engineering, life sciences and technology sectors.

In 2014 I secured a place on the Saltire Fellowship programme and spent four months studying entrepreneurship at Babson College, Boston. It was a fantastic opportunity to broaden my commercial and business knowledge and to build my own confidence and ambition, both of which were transformational for me personally.

Purpose HR are currently a core team of five, and in the next five years we see the potential to triple this growth and ramp up our activities and revenue through digital channels. We have a growing portfolio of innovative, high growth clients and act as an extension to their management teams, embedded in their culture and flexible to their needs – embracing the ‘trusted advisor’ ethos.

We are very proud to be part of the first cohort of 20 values led, socially impactful businesses accepted onto the Unlocking Ambition Scottish Enterprise-backed programme for high growth, purpose-driven organisations.

Lisa ThomsonFounder and CEO, Purpose HR

Alumni wisdom

Take every opportunity you can to grow and learn, and don’t limit yourself - too many other people will do that for you if you let them. Never stop learning as the world doesn’t stay still and embrace every opportunity to engage with and learn from people with different backgrounds, outlooks and experiences from yourself.

Related links

School of Literatures, Languages & Cultures

Purpose HR (external link)

Saltire Fellowship (external link)

Unlocking Ambition (external link)