Did you ever sit down and plan your career?
Actually I didn’t and that is the wrong answer to give because I think a career benefits from a bit of planning! Instead of going to university I went travelling in Australia and when I got home I temped until I fell in to a role in HR and the rest is history.
Have you faced any challenges along the way and if so, how did you deal with them?
For me, a big challenge (created by my levels of confidence rather than my employers) was my lack of a degree, so in my late 20s I went back to university to do a masters.
What advice would you give someone who wishes to move in to a leadership position for the first time?
You will never be 100% qualified for a role (if you are, arguably the role isn’t going to be challenging enough for you). Find yourself a sponsor, take a calculated, but well informed risk and grasp the opportunity with both hands.
When faced with two equally-qualified candidates, how would you decide who should have the role?
If you genuinely believe that the two candidates are equally qualified (and I think that is impossible unless they were assessed on a point system by a computer) I would go for the candidate that brings the most interesting perspectives and the most potential to challenge the status quo.
How do you manage your own boss?
I’m based in London and she is in Dubai so I make sure answering her e-mails are a priority and about once a week I send her a few bullets on key developments and what I am focusing on.
On a typical workday, how do you start your day and how does it end?
I’m an early bird so unless I’m travelling I either work from home starting at about 7.00am or I walk to work which takes twenty minute and gives me a chance to think about the day ahead and what I want to achieve. Often my day ends at an evening D&I event – a reception, an awards dinner, a seminar or best of all, a finish around 6.00pm and then home to spend the evening with the family.
What advice can you give to our members about raising their profiles within their own organisations.
Look for opportunities to broaden your network and gain access to leaders across the organisation. This can take the form of a short term project, sitting on the leadership team of a network or your local employee council or volunteering for a secondment.
How have you benefited from coaching or mentoring?
Having a coach or mentor gives you the benefit of voicing thoughts, issues and aspirations that you would usually internalise. You can get a fresh perspective and experiment with solutions and next steps in a safe environment.
Do you think networking is important and if so, what 3 tips would you give to a newbee networker.
I think networking is incredibly beneficial and was the most impactful thing that I did when I first moved in to D&I. My 3 tips would be
- Approach a networking event as a developmental opportunity
- Networking is never a waste of time – even if the payback is not obvious on the night
- Always think about what you can do for the people you are meeting – how you can connect them to others in your network
What does the future hold for you?
Fingers crossed, by September 2016, I will have realised my dream of opening a secondary school for autistic children in my borough of Lambeth. At work I will continue in a role that offers me developmental opportunities every day, whilst stretching my world view and allowing me to make a difference.