Hannah is the Headteacher of Aureus School and the Co-Founder of #WomenEd. She has recently relocated from London to Oxfordshire. She blogs and tweets as @TheHopefulHT and recently did a TEDx talk on diversity.
Did you ever sit down and plan your career?
I am very goal orientated and have always had a three to five year professional plan. I was advised when I first qualified that the optimum time in was three years for my first few roles so I could ascertain what sort of role, culture, context etc I needed to thrive. Career development advice is lacking in teaching and this is one of the reasons why we founded #womened
Have you faced any challenges along the way and if so, how did you deal with them?
Lots! Mainly navigating being the youngest and the only female on several teams. I had to develop a thick skin and take undue criticism on the chin. I also had to find and use my voice – there is not point sitting at the table if you are not present. I am really candid, I have found that being direct and straight talking helps you to hold your ground.
What advice would you give someone who wishes to move in to a leadership position for the first time?
Know yourself. I have spent a lot of timing being coached, reflecting and discussing who I am as an educator and as a leader. Knowing my values, being able to articulate them, has helped me to articulate my vision and this has shaped my leadership behaviours. I make all decisions from my core values which are my compass.
When faced with two equally-qualified candidates, how would you decide who should have the role?
I have just recruited a brand new team. I long and short listed based on values. I then created a series of tasks to test each of the values. I also had to think carefully about the team dynamic and also succession planning for the future. It was a balancing act. I would love to see more gender and racially blind application processes across the system.
How do you manage your own boss?
I have always led up. I am super-organised so I would lead the calendar of our line management dates/ times. I am a communicator and initiated how we would capture our agenda/ minutes/ work flow. I hold my team, myself and my line manager to account.
On a typical workday, how do you start your day and how does it end?
I start with a shower and a cup of coffee, I end with a bath and a glass of wine!
What advice can you give to our members about raising their profiles within their own organisations
Work on your personal brand -how do people see you, how do you want to be seen? Make sure people know what you are doing and the impact you are having. Learn to not only celebrate but to share tour successes, big and small, model this with your team. Say yes to opportunities and work out how to do it later. Find the gaps in the structure and offer to lead on projects/ initiatives that will add value. Network internally and externally, after all it is who you know not what you know that opens doors.
How have you benefited from coaching or mentoring?
I have received a lot of coaching in the last year as I made the transition to Headteacher. I now have a mentor to grow as a professional and a coach to grow as a human. I cannot recommend values based coaching enough. I am also a coach for other women in education who aspire to lead or who are leading but stuck in a rut to help them get that foot up the ladder.
Do you think networking is important and if so, what three tips would you give to a newbee networker
Networking is key. Join twitter and linked in. Go to events and meet your virtual connections in real time. Stay connected and engage in professional dialogue. My #womened tribe inspire and empower me every day.
What does the future hold for you?
I started my Headship in January and open my first school in September, with a second one opening the year after. I have been asked to become a Trustee and to write a book. All of this has happened due to coaching and networking so get out there and start connecting.