After being named Business Woman of the Year at the FL National Leadership Summit I was delightfully surprised but the question I have subsequently been asked the most is, ‘So, how did you make it to this moment?’
My answer is simple, ‘Embrace change’.
I realise that my career and life have been shaped by big paradigm shifts; some within my control and many imposed externally. Resilience and resourcefulness have been essential companions helping to plot a positive course through many transitionary situations.
I became a chartered civil engineer. Soon, I found my passion working on major engineering projects. But, as each project came to an impressive conclusion and was opened to the public the site office would be lifted away and my search for the next exciting infrastructure project began; forcing the transition to a new location, new organisation, new role.
In seeing how change brought new skills, opportunities and enhancement I instigated my most major career shift moving to Romania to lead the construction of the western half of the Transylvanian motorway project. The highly skilled multilingual Romanian engineers were amazing and for the first time in my career, I led an all-female team. We were a potent, productive project force! Frighteningly, in 2004 my partner and I were caught in the devastating Tsunami and he was badly injured. I returned to the UK. Obviously, this was not a planned event, but fate had some magic in store….especially for an ardent sports fan!
I joined a team that won the commission to manage the construction of the London 2012 Olympic Games. I achieved my dream role as Infrastructure Director for £2bn worth of critical infrastructure on the Olympic Park that facilitated an amazing Games as well as regenerating a contaminated part of East London. However, I was thinking about the next life transformation and after handing over the Olympic Park in 2012, two weeks later I gave birth to twin girls! Life was very different and joyous. I found that my voluntary work in the industry as a STEM ambassador was an excellent bridge and provided industry continuity through my maternity leave.
But whilst our daughters’ birth was planned the sad, sudden and untimely death of their father was not. The most tumultuous earthquake of a paradigm shift in our personal lives. Adapting to the change I reconfigured my professional life to meet the needs of our young daughters and began to build a non-executive portfolio: a ‘new normal’. Many years on and I now sit on several FTSE listed engineering company boards combined with bringing up my twins and continuing my voluntary work.
At the FL National Leadership Summit, I was also named 2021’s Mentor of the Year, of which I am most proud. It is inspiring to help the next generation and to see the future Business Women of the year forging paths through the exciting highs and challenges of work/life changes. I tell them of the positive force that can be harnessed from the paradigm shift!
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