Suzanne Doyle-Morris, PhD is an author, academic, entrepreneur, international speaker and accredited executive coach specialising in strategic career development and leadership coaching for high-potential executive women. She is International Coach Federation accredited and is a member of the Professional Speakers Association. She is one of the world’s top experts on gender equality, diversity in the workplace and career progression for executive women.
As a native of Washington DC who has lived and worked in four countries, Suzanne’s niche expertise has an international perspective, relevant for today’s flat-world marketplace. She is currently based in the UK and has coached executive women within Microsoft, Cisco, UBS, Barclays Wealth, University of Cambridge, Trinity College Dublin, Clifford Chance, O2 and Coca Cola Hellenic.
She is author of Beyond The Boys Club – strategies for achieving career success as a woman working in a male dominated field (October 2009.) She is creator of the Beyond The Boys Club Career Development Plan for Executive Women: a transformational leadership development programme designed for high potential females which combines executive coaching with workshops that focus on strategic career planning.
Her expertise also includes: leadership skills, personal development, mentoring, negotiating office politics, verbal & non verbal communication, networking, profile-raising, delegation, risk-raking, stress management, work/life balance and the bottom-line benefits of gender equality and diversity.
Suzanne has always been fascinated by stories of successful career women. She has a BA in Women’s Studies & Psychology. She received her MPhil and subsequent PhD in Educational Research from the University of Cambridge in the UK. Her doctoral dissertation focused on the career experiences of women working in male-dominated fields. She founded Doyle Morris Coaching & Development in 2005 to help organisations develop and retain their female talent. June 2009
What made you decide to write a book?
I felt that the stories of my clients, successful women who all work in male-dominated environments, were worth sharing. In our coaching sessions, they would bring their challenges and as we progressed, they would come up with amazing solutions – that often got them better results than they had anticipated. I just felt that their experiences were worth bringing to the attention of other professional women. I then decided to round it out with real life stories from women who were at the top of their game in organisations ranging from Microsoft, PwC, the University of Cambridge as well as lawyers, a former ambassador and a retired archaeologist who was leading digs in the Middle East right up until the first bombed were being dropped in Baghdad – all fascinating stories worth re-telling!
How did you balance a full time job and writing the book?
Luckily I began much of the nuts and bolts of the book as the economy began to falter, so while I kept my clients, I was happy to devote more time to research, writing and editing process. As for balance, I just made the most of the days I had with my clients while blocking out entire days for writing – and like much in life, every step of the writing process took so much longer than I ever anticipated!
What attracted you to the subject matter? Why the interest in gender?
I have always been fascinated by the stories of women who became successful against the odds – and in many organisations and even entire sectors, to reach the highest ranks as a woman, is still a great feat. I am fascinated by the question:“What does it take to enter a roomful of men on a daily basis and come out a winner?” Well, it takes quite a few skills and the beauty is that the women I work with all have different strengths they utilise – none to the same degree, some are expert networkers, others are articulate public speakers, some have a great knack for finding the right mentor at the right time – the beauty for me is that there were no two exact same paths to success – which is hugely liberating and inspirational for other women.
What was the biggest challenge and how did you overcome it?
Finding the time to continually re-write and edit! Creating my PhD at the University of Cambridge had taken four years and essentially I was now giving myself the massive challenge of doing it all again – in a single year, when my PhD had taken four. I overcame the challenge by telling people I would do it – oddly enough, like most of my clients, the mere act of telling someone you are going to do something often ensure you will take the next steps – it can no longer be a dream you keep in the back of your mind, thinking “one day when I have the time…”. I just knew it was the right time – there was a need for a book that specifically tackles career progression for high potential women and with the much needed questions being asked about why there aren’t more women at board level, it was more imperative than ever.
If there was one thing that you could say was a great success other than publishing a book, what would it be?
Starting and growing my business since 2005 when most people thought I was crazy to specialise in executive coaching women in male dominated fields – but with the credit crisis more people are beginning to realise more diversity in the top jobs is better for a sustainable bottom line and better for everyone. It’s great to see organisations starting to ask the right questions about how they can attract and keep high potential women, and I am proud to be a small part of making a contribution towards greater equality in the workplace.
If you could go back to before the book was published would you change anything?
I probably would have given myself more time –but hindsight is 20/20 isn’t it? You have to overcome the fear of making mistakes in order to get on with what you want in life – and know you have it in you to handle mistakes as they come. No real regrets, as I know many people who are published and know that it is now easy process – but it is hugely rewarding once it is done.
When and if you get the time, what do you like to do to obtain a life balance?
You’ve got to find time! If I am working long hours to too long, I begin to resent it and lose creativity – a long walk with my husband helps sort me out, as does most types of exercise: tennis, pilates, yoga…but I’m also partial to a good movie and a glass of Shiraz!.
Can you share any tips for any members wishing to write their own book?
Give yourself more time than you think, and be proud of it at every step of the way – the title, the cover design – and most importantly the text – it’s going to have your name on it for a very long time……! Another tip would be to build a virtual support team, even before you think you need them, and immerse yourself in all aspects of book production.
To find out more about Suzanne, please visit http://www.doylemorris.typepad.com/