Based in Cheshire, near Chester, I’m mum to two proud-making boys, Max (13) and Freddie (8), a labradoodle called Ernie and girlfriend to John (50). All 4 “boys” keep me busy, grounded and fit and remind me on a daily basis of the importance of living with joy, wonderment and not taking life too seriously.
I was brought up in Merseyside and went to the University at Manchester, where I gained a Double Honours degree in Modern Languages. In between each “honour”, I headed off to France for a year where I was part of the Euro Disney opening crew, with a post-Disney stint as a trilingual secretary in Paris. My claim to fame at Disney was to be their first ever BarWOMAN! Buy me a glass of wine one day and I might tell you the full story 😉
I then decided 2 degrees wasn’t enough and went for a 3rd, studying for a Masters in Computation at UMIST. After qualifying, I finally decided to leave the protective arms of Manchester University and was taken on as a graduate trainee Project Manager at Fujitsu ICL. I spent 10 years as an IT Project Manager within systems integration projects, including a memorable 2-year period living and working in Zimbabwe on a project to computerise their Reserve Bank.
My career took a dramatic change in direction when I became pregnant. My husband was made redundant and I was threatened with redundancy. This caused me to question the future of my career path. As a new mum and a professional woman, I was faced with some tricky dilemmas such as these:
* Discussions like “Whose meeting requiring a 6 hour round trip is more important?” with my husband
* Non-negotiable demands from senior managers to attend a team meeting at the other end of the country the next day (and childcare be damned)
* How do you fulfil your core working hours when your trip to work and your working day are longer than your child minder’s hours?
Around that time, I discovered the new-fangled concept of “life coaching”. I hired a Coach and the rest, as they say, is history. The experience and impact of being coached was so powerful, that I decided to train as a Coach myself.
Fast forward 13 years: As a Coach, Speaker and Trainer, my particular expertise is in optimising performance in professional women and developing sustainable and fulfilling work-life integration.
As you can imagine from my background my specialist areas as a coach and trainer, I have a few things to say around the issues of gender equality and female talent retention! The word “passionate” is an over-used adverb, but it is the only one that accurately describes how I feel about the nonsensical, short-sighted drain of female talent in the business world. Engendering equality in the workplace is not a nice to have – it is a key factor in increasing profit margins. In my humble opinion. 🙂
But the issue is multi-layered and complex: Over my years as a Coach, my primary objective has been to help professional women to “get out of their own way” to step up and achieve their potential. So many women hold themselves back because of low self-esteem and lack of confidence.
As a woman who has straddled both worlds as professional employee and solo professional – and as a single mum – I know what it’s like trying to keep all the cogs whirring smoothly. I know why the analogy of a swan gliding on the surface but frantically paddling under the water is so apt for most of us! But I also know that, with the right support framework, I can achieve pretty much anything I put my mind to. And so can you.
Forward Ladies provides this essential support framework and is clear about its purpose – simply put, we exist to help women unleash their potential. Even better, Forward Ladies also understands the importance of taking a multi-pronged, flexible approach to achieve this. I’m incredibly excited to be part of the team, because together we really can achieve more!