My mother was a great role model and mentor. My sister and I were always encouraged to be independent, to travel the world and do what we wanted. I believed that I could do pretty much anything.
In my career I progressed steadily, more out of a low boredom threshold than necessarily recognising I was ambitious. The further I progressed the more I found informal great mentors and sponsors. And I had great ones along the way, men and women. They saw something in me and of course they knew I would always deliver, it was a mutual relationship.
I started to hit a unidentified block in my mid-30's. The transition from a function lead, CFO to a general management role of Chief Operating Officer meant I needed help.
I didn't know that I could ask for help and I didn't know where to go to find an independent adviser.
Once you get to the board room the expectation is to give answers, not ask questions, you provide informed opinions, with confidence. No one wants to hear "I think" or "I am blagging my buttocks off here". Especially as a CFO I reported the finance performance, and forecasted the future - the irony being that you are never right when you budget or forecast!
So I asked a woman for help when I was transitioning from CFO to COO. I wanted to learn more, I wanted to understand more outside my current company. She listened to me during adhoc coffee hours. You see I have this ferocious appetite for change and challenges and learning. However, I was rudderless I am bumbling along. And here was a woman who had already been there and could give me a roadmap with options.
She suggested that I go to a business school to do an executive programme. I thought to myself when she suggested it - "Have you seen my degree? I am not senior enough! They won't even consider me!" All the self doubt and stories we, often women, tell ourselves.
She gave me permission, she gave me confidence to consider it. And of course once the seed was sown......I ended up going to Stanford, the home of innovation.
Now I could say it was all down to her. It wasn't I owned it from there. I researched it, I applied and I was accepted. I was giddy with the excitement when I got there, staying in the dorm, with the most fun, challenging and open cohort group of 45 executives.
The number of women was low, really low. I came away with the intention to start my own business, with a firm belief that I can make a difference in this world, and succeed. I wrote down that I wanted to give other women the opportunities, permission, confidence whatever it is they need to achieve whatever their version of Stanford is.
I am now a proud founder and entrepreneur of Back Yourself Mentoring. BYM is a business and community, with the most inspiring and empowering women. We introduce women one authentic mentoring relationship at a time to support and guide them through their career decisions.
I am where I am today because other women help me.
My life and career would be very different if I did not have the support of the women I have had. Through my various corporate roles and now as an entrepreneur I have met the most incredible women who support, nudge and share their life stories and learnings. And that is what I want for other women going through their career making career changes and transitions.
If you want another woman to hold her hand out and guide you, we have the most incredible women waiting to inspire and support. Drop us a line here.