What is your backstory?
I grew up in rural Wiltshire, went to an all girls school, took a year out between school and university to work as a volunteer supporting recovering drug addicts in Hong Kong, then went to Birmingham University to study English Language and Literature.
I remember thinking to myself ‘I don’t want an ordinary 9-5 job’
After writing consistently to the BBC in Birmingham to ask for work, I got a job as ‘hospitality coordinator’’ on a daytime TV show, but contributed ideas and researched some items for broadcast.
I left the BBC to go home and help my mum with a tribunal case: she’d been fired because she’s Indian. She won the case and donated the money she won to have wells dug in rural villages in Gujarat.
I got a job with a communications company in Somerset, and had the best boss possible, with whom I’m still in touch. She was an entrepreneur who’d set up her own business and we worked not with local Somerset companies, but with national and global organisations like the NHS, OFWAT, BP, Amoco.
I married and moved to Scotland and couldn’t find a job so temped for a while and then set up on my own in marketing and PR.
As part of this, I held a contract with the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, (then the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama) as commercialisation manager, with the role of securing additional income streams for the academy. I set up an agency for students and ran drama-based training programmes for the corporate sector.
I was promoted to Head of Development and Public Affairs, responsible for marketing and fundraising and had a team of 5... but I had no experience of leadership at that point, so it was all guesswork.
I left to set up an arts-based training company with a friend.
That was 18 years ago, my company name has changed in that time, but I’ve worked with leaders at all levels in major organisations during that time, in the UK, Europe, USA , Middle East and Far East.
If someone wanted to emulate my career, what would I suggest are the most important things to do?
I’d strongly recommend not emulating MY career, but doing what I’ve done to forge their own career.
Be bold. Trust your gut. Take one step forward and then hold your nerve. And then keep doing that.
Look for lessons everywhere, not just in books and on training courses: everywhere. And from everyone: when the student is ready the teacher will appear.
In life and business the answers are usually just at our shoulder – we don’t notice them because we don’t have the presence of mind to pay attention, we’re too busy overthinking.
Understand that you don’t need anyone else’s permission to succeed
Choose to define yourself – don’t allow other peoples’ definition of you to diminish you.
What are the most exciting projects I’m working on now?
I continue to work on global leadership programmes for large organisations, and I’m also (the project of the moment!) currently writing an online course for business owners and entrepreneurs wanting to scale their businesses.
I’m including international best practice as well as those behavioral ‘success patterns’ that I’ve seen all over the world - and translating them into a format that will help entrepreneurs and business owners who are focused on business growth to do so successfully, following a proven framework whilst allowing for personal flexibility and context.