Inspirational Woman: Joy Burnford | Founder & Director, My Confidence Matters Ltd

Joy Burnford

Joy Burnford is the Founder and Director of My Confidence Matters, and an experienced business leader, entrepreneur, and mentor. 

She has over 20 years’ experience, working for several corporates and start-ups.

In 2017, Joy set up My Confidence Matters to shine a light on the importance of confidence at work and to support organisations to ensure that the gender balance is addressed. As a curator of confidence, Joy brings together experts to run leadership, coaching and mentoring programmes which inspire and motivate women to become confident future leaders. She also pioneers research relating to gender balance, leadership and confidence.

As a leading advocate for progressing gender balance in the workplace, Joy is an influential speaker, an experienced podcast guest, writer, and regular contributor at Forbes.com. This year, she will be launching her own podcast ‘The Confidence Conversation’ and is writing a book called ‘Don’t Fix Women: A toolkit for gender parity at work’ exploring how achieving gender balance at work isn’t about ‘fixing’ the women, it’s about changing the system.

Joy is also a busy mum to two wonderfully different children, aged 7 and 11, and so understand the challenges that many of us face on a daily basis!

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

I am the founder and director of My Confidence Matters Ltd, a leadership development company that puts confidence at the heart of organisations. I am also an experienced business leader, entrepreneur and mentor.

After a marketing career in management consulting, I co-founded my first company, Source Global Research, in 2007. Following the birth of my second child, I spent a period of transition reflecting on what I was good at and what I might do next. This led to me to set up My Confidence Matters in 2017 to shine a light on the importance of confidence at work.

As a curator of confidence, I bring together experts to deliver leadership, coaching and mentoring programmes which inspire and motivate women to become confident future leaders. I also pioneer research relating to gender balance, women’s leadership and confidence.

My passion is advocating and championing gender balance and women in the workplace, and I am a speaker, podcast guest, writer and regular contributor at Forbes.com giving me the great privilege of sharing amazing women’s stories to inspire others.

I am also a busy mum to two wonderfully different children, aged 7 and 11, and so understand the challenges that many of us face on a daily basis!

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

My sister and I were fortunate in being raised single-handedly by a mother who instilled a tremendous sense of self-belief in us. She gave us the drive to succeed. I started my business career at a young age by helping her with bookkeeping and ran my own micro-enterprise from my primary school gates selling peppermint creams, so it’s no surprise that I became an entrepreneur!

In my early career days, I used to have a 5-year plan but since launching my first business I now think in terms of a 10-year plan.

Have you faced any challenges along the way?

Of course! Many people are surprised to hear that I have been on a ‘rollercoaster of confidence’ throughout my career. I experienced imposter syndrome and there were low moments at the bottom of the rollercoaster when I questioned whether I was good enough to work at all. Nevertheless, I have always pushed myself out of my comfort zone and propelled myself to say ‘yes’ to opportunities that inwardly I wanted to reject.

I spent time learning how to speak up and find that inner confidence that would enable me to banish my previous terrors. After re-training and becoming an active member of women’s networks, I realised that confidence is a skill that can be learnt, acquired, or regained. That was why I set up My Confidence Matters, to inspire others to become confident leaders.

What has been your biggest achievement to date?

Setting up and successfully exiting my last business. Founding the business coincided with the birth of my first child and although combining work and motherhood was challenging, I was fortunate to have a supportive husband who not only helped with the business, but also stayed at home to look after our daughter. I successfully exited the business after the birth of my second child to prioritise my family and consider what I might do next. Looking back, I had no idea then what I would also achieve next!

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

My values. I have three key values: confidence to be yourself, curiosity for change and empowerment to thrive. I see these as the secrets to my business success. Both those, and the inspirational women I have learned from along the way.

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

I am deeply passionate about mentoring, both as a mentor and a mentee. I have formal mentors but the informal support I get from my network is just as valuable – you can always learn something from others. For example, I love my conversations with Vanessa Vallely and have just started peer mentoring sessions with Tamara Gillan, Founder of The WealthiHer Network. The stretch and support from someone saying “you really can do this” is incredible.

I am also a mentor for others and at My Confidence Matters we run mentoring programmes for women and organisations. We’ve developed some great tools including our Wheel of Potential™ which helps mentees to assess areas that that are blocking them and an understanding of how to overcome issues which are holding them back.

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

To enable businesses to change the system, rather than trying to fix the women. This is the basis for the book I’m writing called ‘Don’t Fix Women: A toolkit for gender parity at work’. More on that below.

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

That confidence is a skill that can be learnt, acquired or regained. To quote Robert Kiyosaki, “Confidence comes from discipline and training.”

What is your next challenge and what are you hoping to achieve in the future?

My next challenge is to launch my podcast ‘The Confidence Conversation’ which is being supported by the wonderful team at Capability Jane Recruitment Ltd. It was a pleasure to interview your very own Vanessa Vallely on how she found her courage as one of my first guests.

And as if one challenge wasn’t enough (!), I will also be writing my book ‘Don’t Fix Women: A toolkit for gender parity at work’ which explores how achieving gender balance at work isn’t about ‘fixing’ the women, it’s about changing the system.

Looking to the future, I hope to see gender parity in all boardrooms by 2050. If you share the same vision, I’d love to connect, and you can follow me on LinkedIn for updates and further details on both my podcast and book.


WeAreTheCity has a back catalogue of thousands of Inspirational Woman interviews, including Cherie Blair, Paula Radcliffe MBE, Caprice Bourret, Anna Williamson and many more. You can read about all our amazing women here.

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