Who has inspired you in business?
My earliest inspiration was my mum: she was the first woman in her family to build a career, and set up and ran her own marketing company. She showed me that girls can.
Today, I get to meet inspiring people every day thanks to my job at Sky – Sue O’Brien is a great example: a super smart – and brilliantly straight-talking - cookie, who has earned an OBE for the dynamism and focus she’s brought to the gender equality agenda.
What has been your biggest setback and how did you overcome it?
I started my career in agency and, after three years, was ready for a change. I applied for dozens of roles and went for a ton of interviews, getting down to the last two in several processes but was always pipped to the post.
I was offered what I thought was a dream job on Friday, only to have it retracted on the Monday morning as the chief executive had pulled rank on the marketing director and selected the other candidate. I remember taking the call from the recruiter who broke the news and my heart falling through the floor. On the same call, she mentioned that they’d just had a brief from M&S that she thought I’d be perfect for.
After sobbing into my cereal, I picked myself up, brushed myself off and put myself forward. I got it - and I loved it. And it was the real deal dream job, which then led onto a career at Sky, which I’ve loved. It taught me that failure is part of the journey to success; that perseverance is everything and that protecting your self-belief when it feels like the world is giving you a kicking is crucial, if a tad challenging at times.
What is the biggest challenge still facing women in business today and how should it be solved?
I don’t think there’s one answer to that, which is why a gender equality programme needs to be multi-faceted. If I was going to name three areas to focus on, it would be these: women’s own self-limiting beliefs which sees them opt out of opportunities; organisational unconscious bias; and the challenge for individuals and organisations of balancing work against personal external commitments.
At Sky, a key element of our Women in Leadership programme is our bespoke 12-month sponsorship & development programme which provides participants with a sponsor to advocate for them around the business, helping them to identify and land new opportunities; together with development sessions around self-belief.
Alongside this, we’re empowering our people to take more control over where and when they work. To ensure we’re challenging the unconscious bias, we’re changing the way we write our job adverts and job descriptions and we’re rolling out unconscious bias training across the business. Creating the best performance and a balanced leadership team requires time, commitment and an approach that is embedded right across the business.
What piece of advice would you give to your 18-year-old self?
Take that self-critical voice in your head, lock it in a box and throw it off a steep cliff.
Book now and get a 20% discount with the code IW20.