Returning to work after a career break

I’ve been writing about women who have pressed PAUSE on their careers and are now ready to restart it. I’m not talking lack of confidence, I’m talking about getting caught up at work, but not making plans for the future. All of a sudden, you’ve run out challenges and the job feels stale.

Mother & BabyHowever, you’re not that woman. You took maternity leave or an extended career break to stay at home with your children. It’s been a year or 18 months, maybe longer and you’re ready to return to work.

The job is still open and Human Resources and your manager have been fab, but you’re not sure about you. You used to be confident and highly self-motivated and whilst you haven’t completely lost your edge, you know it may take some time to get back into the swing of things.

First of all have lunch with a trusted colleague to find out what has changed at work, if you haven’t kept in touch with work. Technology, processes and staff movement.

Identify what do you want to be, do and have at work? Have you changed, are your priorities the same? What are your expectations?

Next take a big dose of kindness and give it to your self regularly. Don’t start being hard on yourself or setting the bar so high, you set yourself up to fail.

Finally, get some support. A coach or mentor is a good place to start.

I work with women who have pressed PAUSE or are returning to work after a career break and are ready to restart their career.

If you want to find out more. Contact me to book a free coaching call.


It’s time to go for the next promotion? Don’t wait-do it now!

If you read the newspapers at all, you may have noticed that companies are embracing diversity and appointing women into senior roles. Currently, there are 4 females CEOs at FTSE companies and it was reported in July that PwC had promoted a record number of new partners. Numbers show that 40% of new partners are women and 20% are from a culturally diverse background.

What’s the point here?

Companies are recognising that having women in senior positions is advantageous to business. Mervyn Davies, former Trade Minister, and leader of a government initiative since 2011, said that Britain was leading the way at driving corporate change on a voluntary basis, rather than through quotas, which has been discussed.

Woman with crowdYou’re a woman manager, director, leader in your organisation and you have achieved some career success, but you have paused or stopped. You’re confident and you have the right skills. You’ve just returned from the summer holiday or staycation and you’ve been thinking about THAT promotion again, and you’re wondering, should I, could I?

The time is now, don’t wait for the RIGHT conditions and occasion, do it NOW. There has never been a better time. If ALL the confident, talented women decided to take ACTION and go for that JOB, what an impact that would have and a difference it would make. However, as long as we continue to be patient and wait for the right time and conditions, then change takes place slowly. It’s time to step up and go for that job.

You’re AMBITIOUS, but you don’t admit that to everyone, and you know Single black womanyou’re ready. Join WOMEN INDUSTRY EXPERTS at the #EmbraceYourAmbition tele summit as they share strategies and insider information on creating career SUCCESS. The time is now to #embraceyourambition. Sheryl Sandberg says ‘until women are as ambitious as men, they will never be as successful’. This is your call to action. Don’t wait-do it now!


Nice dress, nice hair. You can have the job!

David Cameron reshuffled his Cabinet membership this week, ahead of the final year of activities before the next General Election.  There were 10 women who were promoted. This move has been prompted by the defection of many Conservative voters to UKIP and a need and great desire to show that the Conservative party embraces the usefulness of women in higher office.

However, it is noted that with less than a year before the election, there may not be enough time for these women to make a lasting impression or achieve noticeable victories. That aside, it was a good day to see more women being recognised and promoted to higher office.

Cabinet reshuffle

(Picture above Education secretary Nicky Morgan and Environment secretary Liz Truss)

Therefore, why the did the Daily Mail choose to focus on what the women wore and their general appearance? Haven’t we made more progress than that? Or, is this a subtle way of demonstrating the women in key roles are still not taken as seriously as their male counterparts?

Now is the time for women to seek out promotion and embrace their ambition. Especially as we are now seeing more women in boardrooms and leading major corporations, this is a slap in the face. The Daily Mail reduced their promotion to whether they looked good in a dress, not what they may have had to overcome to be noticed and promoted. This superficial view of women does nothing to support women in the workplace.

So, if you are aiming for promotion, whether it is in the House of Commons or Easyjet, embrace your ambition and go for it. Don’t get caught up in the silly gender discussions about your dress size. You are worth so much more than that!

More information:

Closing the Ambition Gap-Ambition is not a dirty word

I read this quote by Sheryl Sandberg Sheryl Sandbergrecently ‘Until women are as ambitious as men, they’re not going to achieve as much’. I have read it many times since then, not because it is a difficult concept to grasp, but because I have thought this for a long time, that women hold themselves back and deny themselves the success they deserve.

I meet a lot of fantastic women, who are doing great things at work or in business, but they have a lot of untapped potential. Maybe they already know it, and choose to do nothing about it, but I’m not sure. I think they realise and they hesitate, maybe out of fear of success, or because they don’t want to be perceived as ambitious. Ambition is not a bad thing, and there are no prizes for settling for less.

How many men do you think would do the same, faced with an opportunity?

I am striving to achieve my true potential, but I also hesitate sometimes, because of my fear of success and what impact it will have on my life and those surrounding me. So, none of us are immune to these feelings.

I realise now, I can create the outcome I choose! If I want to stand on the edge and hesitate or be fearful, the impact I will create will be limited and if I want to take those steps and find out what I am actually capable of, the impact may be unlimited. That feels scary and exciting all at once! Marianne Williamson reminds me ‘Your playing small does not serve the world. You were meant to shine’.

What about you? Are you hesitating because of fear, or are you ready to embrace ambition and shine?

Comment in the box below and let me know what you think about being ambitious.

Finally, here is Sheryl Sandberg talking about closing the ambition gap.

Closing the Ambition Gap via @MAKERSwomen. WATCH here:

Women as Leaders-Redefining leadership

At the start of the year I was looking for a women leader’s network on meet up in London, UK. I wanted to broaden my networking and speaking opportunities and this seemed like a good place to start. There are lots of meet ups for women entrepreneurs but nothing for the women leaders I know that exist. So I decided to set one up. Membership is building slowly, but some of the feedback I have received is that some women business owners don’t regard themselves as CEOs, and even more pointedly, some women CEOS are almost embarrassed by the title. Is this really true, and if so, rather sad?

In the UK, we’ve had a woman Prime Minister-Margaret Thatcher. Currently, all the political parties are led by men and only the Labour Party has a woman deputy; Harriet Harman whose title is Shadow Deputy Prime Minster.

The only women running FTSE 100 companies are Moya Green at Royal Mail, Carolyn McCall at easyjet, Angela Ahrendts formerly at Burberry now joining Apple, Alison Cooper at Imperial Tobacco and Liv Garfield soon to be joining Severn Trent from BT.

In the public sector, the figures are marginally better. In a recent report Sex and Power 2013, 32% of councillors in the UK are women, and only 12.3% are council leaders and 13.3% are elected mayors. In 2012, 22.9% of local authority chief executives were women.

There are many reasons for such disparity in the numbers of men and women in senior positions. Culture of the organisation; many boards are led by men in most sectors and therefore decision-making rests with the majority presence. Also, some women don’t believe they are good enough to be the CEO or ‘the one at the front’ so don’t apply for such key posts. Also, the myth that ‘you can have it all’, the career, family and a life doesn’t help. I’m not saying you can’t, but it is challenging and requires a lot of juggling and probably additional support. A change in mindset for many organisations too.

In response, women are increasingly starting their own businesses, because it gives them the flexibility of when they work, who they work with and in conditions that suit them better. Some want to include motherhood and having a family, and some just want to get off the corporate ladder which is probably not taking them anywhere fast! Others are working part-time and want to start small businesses to support them.

So, the statistics tell us that we aren’t making our presence felt enough in the market place. Yet, our male counterparts have no difficulty with titles and going after what they want, and that includes more pay and more senior  positions.

So how can we change attitudes to women in leadership? A woman leader is not a bad thing.

I do think we have to modify our thinking about ourselves and these positions. Note, I didn’t say CHANGE.

To be the CEO, director, or leader requires confidence and self-belief. not just self-confidence, but confidence in one’s ability.

  1. Confidence to take decisions. If you get it wrong or not the outcome you were seeking, you’ll handle it.
  2. Confident of who you are.Try not be so affected by what people think of you. It’s true, they may not like you (for a host of reasons, over which you have no control) but that doesn’t stop you from doing your job.
  3. Confident that you are going in the right direction. You have to lead from the front. Create a vision and enrol your management team and staff in the vision and what it will mean for them and the organisation.
  4. Confident in your abilities and strengths. You have the skills, experience, knowledge and so on, and it is alright to know that and use them. Don’t apologise for having an MBA or being qualified.
  5. Confidence that you cannot do this alone, get the right support and then, this can be so much easier.
This is not a finite list, just some of the key characteristics I have observed in the women CEOs with whom I work, who are good leaders but want to be great leaders and create extraordinary results for themselves and their organisations. What characteristics would you add to this list?
If any of this has resonated with you, please like or share this post and leave a comment below.
Also, if you would like more information about how to go from being a good leader to great, contact me.


Great leadership: it starts with a strong reason

We have just celebrated International Women’s Day on 8 March. We celebrated women’s achievements. My examples include Emmeline Pankhurst and Malali Joya, also Rosa Parks and Oprah Winfrey.

What do these women have in common? They are leaders. They are women who, in spite of adversity and their situation, were courageous. Emmeline Pankurst was a suffragette who campaigned for the rights of women to have the vote in England. Rosa Parks was a Black woman, who refused to sit at the back of the bus in segregated America. Malali Joya stood up to the Taliban, so girls could receive an education and almost lost her life as a result. Oprah Winfrey was a poor little Black girl, who was also sexually abused, and is now the only African American billionaire on the Forbes list. Her background and upbringing did not dictate her future.

What about you? Are you a woman CEO or senior manager? What do you need to do, to go from a good to a great leader of your organisation or department?

You need to be clear about your ‘why’ and your purpose, and if you have lost sight of those, then you need to reconnect to them.

I can help you. Contact me to arrange a complimentary leadership discovery call. This call is for you if you know you want support in achieving your success at work.

Happy New Year Resolutions

2014 fireworks2014 was ushered in with fireworks over the Thames with plenty of excitement and maybe anticipation.

Anticipation because we wondered would 2014 be better than 2013 and would we enjoy this year more and achieve what we set out to do?

Achieve what?

Some of you will have made resolutions between the hangover on 1 Jan, that we were giving up something or starting something, or being something new. However, today for some of you, those resolutions have been broken and maybe forgotten.

Great start to another year!

So what can you do differently and how can you rescue those resolutions?

First of all, you need a dose of reality. If you have been doing whatever it is you want to stop, for a while, say a few years, you will not achieve that fantastic turnaround in a few days. Honestly!

Start with your WHY. Why do you want to make those changes? Why is that important to you? And why is THAT important to you. You may need to ask yourself this question a couple of times. Write down your answers. Also, what will be the impact to you, your family/friends etc if you DON’T achieve it? This is the killer question. If you don’t care and nobody else does either, WHY are you doing this and setting yourself up for failure. Change something that is IMPORTANT to you.


Start slowly. Reduce, decrease, lessen your activity. Get used to the reduction in this activity. Conversely, if the desire is to increase your activity, start slowly and make incremental changes.


Stopping smoking? Reduce the amount of cigarettes you smoke each day. When you’re comfortable with that reduction, reduce again.

Taking up exercise, when you were previously a couch potato? Start with walking to the end of the street, or 2 streets. Whatever, you feel comfortable with to begin. As your confidence increases, step up the activity. (No pun intended!)

Finally, celebrate your achievements, no matter how small. That is how you keep your motivation going.

You can try this yourself, and let me know how you get on.

If you want to implement bigger changes email me to find out you can make them successfully.

Happy new year!