There is not a CEO or HR Director I speak with who isn’t committed to progressing their talented women into leadership and most are frustrated by the pace of that. Who also realise it is a huge source of competitive advantage when they can do that transparently, with deep wisdom and when those interventions are aligned with the business.
What qualifies me to support women leaders?
I’ve walked extensively in those shoes. From stepping into leadership roles in my mid 20’s feeling unprepared to 10 years later with an MBA running the Institute of Management in Auckland, being appointed the first female director of The Warehouse Group, New Zealand’s largest retail chain with turnover of $NZ2.5bn.
My husband and I moved to London 20 years ago and I have held a number of Managing Director and CEO roles in that time building leadership development and talent businesses, including as Group Board Director at Ceridian Corporation, Chief Executive of the Institute of Leadership and Management, CEO of Savile Group and Managing Director of the Penna Talent Practice.
As well as being an experienced senior executive and leadership development expert, I am also a Certified Professional Coach with the ICF accredited College of Executive Coaching. I hold various psychometric accreditations including Saville Assessment Occupational Personality, Strengthscope Leader and Mental Toughness, MTQ through AQR.
I was named a Top 30 HR Influencer by HR Magazine and featured in the Cranfield University 100 Women to Watch in 2015. Over the years, I have been quoted in or interviewed by the likes of Radio 4, Stylist, Sky News, CNN, The Guardian, The Times, The Telegraph, Management Today and the FT among others. My Huffington Post blog commenting on issues around leadership and talent development, generated significant engagement. With Management Today we won Campaign of the Year for Work/Life Balance.
What have I learned?
My executive career has seen me confront the best and worst of people, organisations and business – and myself. And the learning curve has been steep! There are many things I wish I had known 20 years ago that I know now. Some you just have to walk the road to learn but some you don’t. I wish I had had a sounding board then who had wrestled with some of the things that were keeping me awake at night.
Challenges like being authentic, operating at senior levels in a politically savvy way and with integrity, managing my anxiety and lack of confidence when I thought everyone else was on top of it all, not getting resentful at being mistaken for the secretary when I was the General Manager, managing being spoken over, the distance my leadership required me to take from colleagues and on and on.
My biggest thanks go to all the folk who I managed and lead. Sure I figured it out, but I could have done with some help along the way.
Why do I work with women?
I should mention that I also work with and coach men. I love seeing everyone build their leadership capability in a way that adds to theirs and others lives. But I have chosen at this stage in my career to focus my time and energy on women leaders and managers because navigating that world is something I understand. Not just in my own lived experience but as importantly because we have decades of social science research that can throw a light on how to become skilled as a female leader, without being a victim.
And because for me, it’s so important we harness the female talent I see often being laid to waste and I want to see that amazing potential being realised, for the individual and the organisation.
My Point of View
I have always believed that who we are as leaders is as important as what we know, and what we can do. And we need to be working on all of these three things constantly in our career. Who we are, what we know, what we can do.
Sometimes for women the WHO we are gets confused as we navigate our identity in an environment where the attributes of leadership are generally male, and where people can be ambivalent about our authority. It doesn’t make us victims but it does mean we need to find a way to navigate that world in a way that doesn’t diminish us. That’s what I want to help with.