Inspirational Woman: Michelle Brailsford | Jupiter Consulting Group Owner

What made you decide to set up your company?

One day I simply got tired of the battle. I spent the first 15 years of my career trying to convince (mainly) white, middle aged males (who were predominantly left brained) the best way to manage a talent pool that was diverse, young and often right brained.  They just didn’t get people development! Time after time, I was “hired for my expertise” and then my expertise was ignored.  My gut instincts were ridiculed.  And my wild and crazy ideas were ignored.   I was asked to produce an ROI report to justify the investment in development one too many times and I snapped! Actually, I decided my energy and enthusiasm wasn’t being appreciated and leveraged and I thought “Right, life is too short to keep working with people who don’t believe, like me, that everyone is developable!”

What have been your biggest challenges so far in the company?

Originally, it was working solo. That is why when the opportunity arose to form a partnership with a group of like minded professional women, I jumped at it! Another big challenge has been to be true to our values. One of our values is Respect for Diversity and yet, each us has had an instance (or two) when remaining appreciative of the other partner and honouring her differences has been difficult.  We try very hard to leverage the unique talents and energies of our partners but we are human and sometimes those unique differences grate on your nerves!!

Also working as a virtual company is a big challenge!!  Just in terms of time zones. One of my partners lives in California so it is either 8.00am for her or 5.00pm for me. We joke about which one of us has a glass of orange juice at hand and which has a glass of wine!!

If there was one thing that you could say was a great success, what would it be?

As a small, female owned partnership, when we landed our first Fortune 500 client, that was a huge success! Other successes have included the launch of our website.  And we are proud of the partnerships and relationships we have formed and maintained over the years.

If you could go back to when you started the company would you change anything?

Yes, I would spend the time upfront to be clear about our USP and have razor sharp focus about product/service offering.  When my partners and I began we thought we could do all things for all clients.

What made you decide to return to consultancy after a two-year stint with the BBC Worldwide?

Working at the BBC Worldwide, the commercial arm of the BBC, was amazing. The BBC is one of Britain’s most iconic brands and a fascinating place with such history.  I was part of team that orchestrated a cultural, structural and process change programme.  And working there helped me gain clarity about myself, my strengths and the best way I can contribute to the world of work. What I learned about myself and my strengths is that I relish Adventure and Autonomy.   Working in a large bureaucracy didn’t allow me to experiment. I’m no good at adhering to rules!  So after two years & three months, I returned to consulting Working with clients allows me to experiment and have the freedom to do the work that I love.  Being a consultant is brilliant because I can bring my latest thinking – about positive psychology & appreciation, strengths and brain based neuroleadership  – to a variety of interested and interesting clients.

What challenges are your clients facing?
  • How to create a workplace that feels good
  • How to recruit the right people with the right attitude and culture fit – technical skills can be taught.
  • How to create conditions for change.
If you could offer advice to your younger self, what would it be?

Really play to your strengths. Follow your own unique career path.  Let go of ‘ego’ and don’t try to compare yourself to others in your industry or field. Do what YOU love and what YOU are good at.

Remain Authentic despite the enormous pressure to conform inside organisations.

Only work with organisations, clients and partners who share your philosophy, values, and ethos.

When and if you get the time, what do you like to do in order to obtain a life balance?

My partner and I have recently moved out of London to Dorset.  When I am not with a client, we make sure that we have breakfast together and take the dog on a walk.  Being able to see the Blackmore Vale out of my office window and being able to drive down to the Dorset coast when I need some R&R is restorative. And when I am able, I will implement my plan to lead Women’s Leadership Retreats in Le Marche, Italy which will allow me to combine all the things I love in life and do them simultaneously!

Can you share any tips for any members wishing to start out on their own?

Life is short and work should be fun!  Ergo, Jupiter’s strap line: ADDING life BACK INTO work.    Do work that is life enhancing and not spirit deadening!

For more information about Jupiter Consulting Group click here.

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