Inspirational Woman: Emma Gill | Director, Head of Manchester office at Vardags

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

Yes and no. I decided aged 10 I wanted to be a lawyer. I’m not quite sure why because no one in my family had even been to university. Once I was fixed on that goal, then I set about planning. I knew all the routes to qualification and took the one that worked for me.

Have you faced any challenges along the way and if so, how did you deal with them?

Inspirational Woman - Emma Gill (F)
Inspirational Woman: Emma Gill

I’ve definitely faced challenges. Initially it was financially related. I didn’t have the family backing to pay on my behalf so I always had at least one part time job, kept my debt as low as possible and secured a scholarship for my Legal Practice Course. I think the biggest challenge now is negativity from others, often other women. The best way to handle the naysayers is to let yourself move on from their impact quickly. It’s easy to say just ignore it, but that’s pretty impossible. All you can promise yourself is that you won’t let them hold your focus for long and you must be doing something right for them to take notice, even in a negative way.

What advice would you give someone who wishes to move in to a leadership position for the first time?

Believe in yourself. If you are leading others will look to you to solve their problems so you can’t doubt the solutions you offer. Also be yourself. People warm to and respond well to authenticity.

On a typical workday, how do you start your day and how does it end?

With a kiss from my little girl. I arrange my work hours so I can wake up when she does, dress her, eat breakfast together and take her to nursery and most days I’m back to bath her and put her in bed. So much of what I do can be completed at home or in the evening so I have an easier task of balancing the elements of my life.

What advice can you give to our members about raising their profiles within their own organisations?

You have to take ownership for your own development and progression. No one is going to think you are good at your job if you don’t. And it’s not about being arrogant. It’s about being open about your achievements. Always have a ‘good girl’ file. That’s where you put positive comments and feedback from your superiors, clients and colleagues. When it’s review time, bring it out and remind yourself just how well you’ve done.

Have you benefited from coaching or mentoring? If so, how?

I’ve been mentored through my career but not coached. Mentoring is about picking up top tips from people you admire, watching and learning and then improving on what you do. I don’t think you have to be involved in an official scheme or have someone called a ‘mentor’ to be able to take advantage of that dynamic. Watch how people you admire deal with situations and if you want to ask questions, keep it short and punchy, they won’t have the time to listen to an unabridged version of what you have to say.

Do you think networking is important and if so, what 3 tips would you give to a new networker?

It is important particularly for my role as you never know who will need your help. That being said (1) be selective about the events you attend (2) focus on one or two individuals you want to meet and (3) follow up that meeting within twenty-four hours if you want to cement the relationship.

What does the future hold for you?

Being the best family lawyer in Manchester and being head of the team that everyone wants to work for.

Read other Inspirational Woman profiles here.

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