Inspirational Woman: Anna Allerton | Executive Coach & Director, Allerton Coaching & Consulting

Anna Allerton

Anna Allerton is an Executive Coach who specialises in supporting women to maintain their careers during Perimenopause and Menopause. As a former Journalist and TV Producer, Anna enjoyed a 17-year career at Sky in various senior roles.

Using her own lived experience of Perimenopause that began aged 38, Anna is passionate to support cultural transformation about this in the workplace. Anna knows too well how this can be a lonely and isolating time.

Many women require someone to listen to them, to hear their personal journey and to understand their challenges. Too much is lost for many women at this time and Anna is determined that with the right support – careers and professional ambitions are maintained. Anna not only supports individuals with her coaching but also provides services to her corporate clients to support the breakdown of stigma and stereotypes to improve workplace culture.

Her warm, engaging, bubbly and authentic style helps normalise this conversation. She quickly builds trust and empathy to help walk alongside women making adjustments to maintain careers at a time when so many are forced to leave the workplace due to lack of support. Her approach increases self-awareness, confidence and accountability while creating an environment of safety.

Through workshops, Anna supports teams to have better conversations about Menopause, while exploring techniques to support continued transformation.

Anna trained and qualified with the Academy of Executive Coaching and has provided coaching and workshops to many clients including Workday, IMG, Sky, The Forward Trust, The Premier League and Whisper.

An industry leader in women’s sports journalism, she has been at the forefront of the changing landscape for women’s sports on screen and in the newsroom for most of her broadcasting career. With broad and deep experience in the corporate world, Anna is also a serving Non-Executive Director in sports.

She has shared her story about perimenopause on various podcasts, on Times Radio and in print.

Tell us a bit about yourself, background and your current role

I am an Executive Coach who specialises in supporting women to maintain their careers during Perimenopause and Menopause. As a former Journalist and TV Producer, I enjoyed a 17-year career at Sky in various senior roles. During my second maternity leave, I began experiencing debilitating symptoms of Perimenopause (aged 38) which deeply impacted my daily work. Women are losing too much to this at a time when they have the tools to thrive and push on in their careers. But while male colleagues are making great strides, I recognised how Menopause can hit like a wrecking ball and derail professional women in their tracks. As a certified Coach, I provide a service to individual clients and corporate clients looking to disrupt the narrative while breaking down stigma and stereotypes.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

Not meticulously. I was always curious about journalism having grown up around my Telegraph Tennis Correspondent Grandfather. When I was at University in Massachusetts, I began studying journalism and writing for the college paper. It was then that I wanted to see if I could make a career out of sports journalism and set off to explore print and radio before finally settling on TV. The thrill, the excitement, the teamwork and the buzz of live TV was something I needed to be a part of. I was so lucky to have had amazing experiences and opportunities throughout my career.

Have you faced any challenges along the way?

Many! But I quite like challenge. It’s something I work with clients on a lot. I am a big believer in challenges and mistakes being positives and affording you huge learning opportunities.

How I reflect on challenge though has evolved as my career changed and as I changed as a person. For example, in my early career, I got used to often being outnumbered by male colleagues and the daily challenge this presented. I then climbed up the ladder and that presented a fresh challenge. I had two children and had to learn to be a mum, a wife and a career woman.

Challenge now takes on a completely new lens as I now run my own business. I’m experiencing challenge with more uncertainty having left the safety of the corporate world. Navigating imposter syndrome through a new lens, bashing that gremlin off my shoulder when it asks me am I good enough? can I do this? is this sensible?

I love the learning it provides every day about myself. Despite all the challenges throughout my career, I’ve learnt how to navigate it, understand my relationship with challenge, find my voice, be confident and authentic. It’s shaped who I am now.

What has been your biggest achievement to date?

Being a mum to my two wonderful daughters.

What one thing do you believe has been a major factor in you achieving success? 

Mentoring. Throughout my career, I have been able to find mentors that guided me, held me accountable and provided honest feedback. It’s given me space to learn, reflect and strategise in an environment of trust and safety. I often rejected the ‘speed-dating’ type of mentoring programmes where you get matched to mentors. I preferred choosing my own, determined by what I needed at each stage in mind. I’m forever grateful and carry with me some of the wisdom and guidance I’ve been given over the years.

There is a misconception that if you enter into mentoring – the mentor will tell the mentee how to do things.

How do you feel about mentoring? Have you mentored anyone or are you someone’s mentee?

There is a misconception that if you enter into mentoring – the mentor will tell the mentee how to do things. They will have the solutions. Some may enter into it thinking it will provide easy answers. In fact, if done properly it can unlock a lot of hard work, reflection and self-awareness to trigger crucial learning.

I now run a workshop through my business about defining Mentoring v Coaching. I also offer professional mentoring as part of my practice. My passion for this really comes from the ‘send the lift back down’ mentality that you are really tuned into when you work in male-dominated environments. Particularly in the sports journalism industry – we have a huge problem attracting young women onto courses at university – and keeping them there. From the top down mentoring can play a huge part in shaping the careers of women across all sectors.

If you could change one thing to accelerate the pace of change for Gender Parity, what would it be?

It won’t surprise you but I really believe raising awareness and education about the impact of menopause will have a deep impact on accelerating gender parity. I’ve experienced it myself – the head-scratching within organisations as to why they can’t get women into leadership roles. Setting up ‘women in leadership’ programmes targeting the younger demographic of the workforce. Focusing energy and resources into working mums and those returning from maternity leave. Or strategising for gender diversity targets. Menopause presents an untapped void for women in leadership and it needs urgent attention.

Why? One million women have already quit the workforce (that’s 1 in 10) and 1 in 4 will reduce their hours because of symptoms. There are over 14 million menopausal women in the UK right now and only 14% are being treated and diagnosed. All while women over the age of 50 are the fastest-growing section of the UK workforce.

These are huge numbers and organisations that embrace this subject, tap into it, learn from it and make adjustments are the ones that are going to be ahead of the curve here. Not the box tickers – but the ones laying strong foundations for change. They will retain top talent, boost performance, and harness vast experience and wisdom. The result – more women in top roles feeding into achieving gender parity.

While I appreciate this is absolutely not the solution alone to fix gender parity, I firmly believe there is an untapped sweet spot in here if we just address the issues that menopause is bringing up in the workplace. It has the potential to change cultures for the better and make the working lives of millions of women more fulfilling.

We need to accept it’s not a one size fits all. Removing narratives such as women needing to “toughen up” and “it wasn’t that bad for me” will go a long way to breaking down stigma. Banish the stereotypes – because let’s face it, this is not just about women who are 50 getting hot and angry.

Antiquated views have got us to the situation we are in now. This will impact 52% of the population and change can happen. While the government are woefully behind on this subject, I challenge business to stand up and say they don’t agree, that they will take robust action to address the issue, be progressive, restless and open to new ways of working (eg: my marginal gains mindset which I coach). Crucially – this is a space for all people to be walking on the path together.

If you could give one piece of advice to your younger self what would it be?

Stop looking so far ahead that you fail to enjoy the moment you are in. That promotion, that big job move, the next trip, the big house, the partner, the kids, the career. If you are living for something that hasn’t even happened yet, life becomes so transactional, and you miss the moment and joy found in the now.

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