One Bam Procurement Programme Lead
Royal Bam Group
What’s the biggest challenge you have faced as a woman in business to date?
The biggest challenge I have faced is actually realising there are genuine challenges for women. For much of my life I had not seen gender bias, I grew up with my sister in a family where both sets of parents worked. I went to a girl’s school up to the age of 18 and had been relatively protected from any stereotyping or gender bias. It was this ignorance that probably protected me in the early years of my career and forced me to work harder and keep reinventing ways to communicate, to be heard and genuinely accepted as a high achieving individual. Very recently I was on a teams call with two other colleagues discussing how we would manage a new project. I had mentioned splitting the teams and rotating the updates to give them longer to make real progress. After the two colleagues pondered one of them played back exactly what I said for then the other colleague to say that’s a really good idea. It makes me smile these days and I sometimes use this as a good way to influence other stakeholders, making them think it’s their idea. When it first happened though I thought maybe they didn’t hear me and just walked out of the meeting frustrated. For me it was then about learning when to call out that in fact it was my idea and when to realise its ok my idea has landed and that is still a success.
Who has inspired you (male or female)?
My inspiration is Sheryl Sandberg, it was after a long day at work leaving Tower Bridge Station in London. I had a few moments to spare before I caught my train and thought I’d grab a new business book to read. I’ve always been a little different choosing to read books like Good to Great and The CPO in my holidays and spare time. I always want to learn and learn from others who have succeeded in business. So, when I saw Sherly Sandberg’s book Lean In, it immediately grabbed my attention. As I sat smirking on the train reading about how Sheryl had changed her coat to avoid being seen leaving the office slightly earlier than anyone else to get home before her children fell asleep I suddenly realized it’s not just me. Her vision on an equal world where if we tapped into the pool of human resources and talent our collective performance would improve has inspired me to continuously strive to achieve that.
What do you wish you’d known when you started out and/ or what advice would you give your younger self?
To not be so hard on myself, its ok not to be perfect at everything all the time. During the pandemic this has been truly tested with Zoom calls, home schooling and all the other challenges we are facing. I tried to be the best Mum and employee 24 hours a day 7 days a week. As many of you know that’s impossible so the first time, and I will admit not the last, we turned up to school and I had that realisation that no one else is in their school uniform but my child I gave myself the hardest time, it completely affected the rest of my day and I had single handily branded myself a bad Mum. This haunted me for many years until I realised being a good employee and parent isn’t based on those single short moments. You have to look at the whole picture and all the great things you have done over the week. All those times you did make it to the start of the football game and those meetings when someone has thanked you for your input.
What are the character traits of successful women and/or what makes a good leader?
One character trait of successful women is perseverance. It is often the case that women have to prove themselves more, for me this is key. I have also found being able to inspire a team can really help to achieve incredible results by transforming people’s attitudes and beliefs. Compassion is key for a good leader, no one is motivated by self-centred behaviours. For me I listen, I think to be a good leader you need to be able to listen. I don’t have all the answers but I certainly know where I can go to get insight, solutions, perspective whether that be listening to my supply chain or listening to my team or stakeholders.
Do you have a favourite quote or statement that sums up your approach to life?
You must be the change you wish to see in the world – Mahatma Gandi
What do you #ChooseToChallenge?
From challenge comes change, so let's all choose to challenge