Baroness Mary Goudie is a formidable woman who has been an active global advocate for the rights of women and children for many years. With all her achievements and accomplishments it was her warmth and openness that struck me. As a woman who has been in politics for over 50 years she is an inspiration to all of those striving to make a difference in the world. Through her work on the board of Vital Voices, she is involved in promoting gender equity with both the G8 and G20 and is currently the Chair of the Women Leaders’ Council to Fight Human Trafficking at the United Nations.
Did you ever sit down and plan your career?
No, not exactly but I was always passionate about human rights and racial equality. Growing up in London, a child of Irish parents, we were always brought up to know that every door was open to us and to have respect for everyone around us, and this is something that I have carried with me throughout my career.
Have you faced any challenges along the way and if so, how did you deal with them?
There are always challenges large and small, you tackle each one as they arise and you learn and try and ensure that a positive outcome can occur.
What advice would you give someone who wishes to move in to a leadership position for the first time?
Sponsors are incredibly important when wanting to progress. Identifying the right individual to support you and your work is integral to growing your career. That partnered with identifying the right mentor in or out of your organisation (I often advise that outside is much better to provide a balanced view and broader long term opportunities) is what will help you not only get the leadership position, but ensure you are ready for it.
When faced with two equally-qualified candidates, how would you decide who should have the role?
When faced with equally qualified candidates at the end of the day you have to make a decision – sometimes it is on personality and inter-personal skills and taking further references. At the end of the day you have to have courage of your convictions.
How do you manage your own boss?
Although I don’t really have one these days – I would say the best advice I can share here is to ensure that you are always truthful with them and on time both for meetings and delivery of projects you have promised. Finally, for me professionalism is integral and never do the blame game with your team – if you need help ask for it!
On a typical workday, how do you start your day and how does it end?
I read the FT, Guardian and follow social media (particularly Twitter) on my iPad. I listen to the news and generally take meetings with different time zones.
What advice can you give to our members about raising their profiles within their own organisations?
Again, finding the right sponsor for you is my best advice here.
How have you benefited from coaching or mentoring?
All my mentoring has been more informal – but I have always taken good advice and I enjoy a strong network of knowledge friends, colleagues – male and female.
Do you think networking is important?
I think networking is overrated – building strong relationships with people who’s opinion and experience you value is most important.
What does the future hold for you?
In the present political situation it is really important to work for and be strong for the values I hold on the issues I work for.