Advice for women starting their careers?
Have a plan, but be attentive to opportunities that come up on the journey. Don’t be afraid of seizing an opportunity because you’re not ready - many of us are in jobs that we grow into, I wish someone had told me that earlier.
What would you tell your younger self now?
To be more present and celebrate herself more. I was such an academic and hardworking student, but I was always looking to the future and planning the next big achievement. There is something very special about being able to sit with your success and achievements for a moment and give yourself a pat on the back. The truth is, I never felt enough - smart enough, pretty enough, witty enough, cool enough. Looking back, I had all I needed within me and I made things happen.
What has been your most pivotal career moment?
I’ve had 3 big career changes. Perhaps the scariest was when I jumped off the corporate ladder and started a social enterprise, Mums in Tech, during my second maternity with very little funding behind me. Unfortunately, prior to that I had been more Spending Queen than Saving Queen. For the first time, I was following my heart and betting on myself to come up with a solution to a problem I was having. I wanted to learn to code and there weren’t any coding schools I could attend with babies. This was a pivotal moment for me because I had no brand to hide behind; I had to create one for myself. I learnt a lot about myself, my strengths and weaknesses. It was the beginning of a very exciting adventure and I know that I wouldn’t be the investor I am today without that experience. I’ve experienced having nothing and building back up. No one can take that away from me and I’m not afraid to start over.
How do you balance your work and life? Is this important?
I am such a doer and I really do struggle to sit still. My mind is always going and I wear a lot of hats - Mum of 3, Investor, Board Member, FT Columnist, Podcaster and sometimes actor and model. However, I have burnt out before, and know what it’s like, so I am very conscious of history not repeating itself. Thankfully the kids act as a natural balancer for me. In the mornings, I get them ready for school and we hang out together. I also try not to have any meetings after 5 as I love to make dinner for them and eat together at 6. We then play games and watch tv until bedtime. On the weekends, I love to spend as much time outdoors as the weather permits - walks in the woods, long drives, and any body of water will do.
What do you hope for the future of women in business?
I want to live in a society where it doesn’t have to be either or. Childcare needs to be made more affordable, and company policies need to be designed in a more inclusive way. Thankfully the pandemic has normalised flexible working. I hope we don’t lose any of the lessons learnt as we move to a more hybrid way of life.
What has been your biggest challenge in being a woman in business?
The hardest part has been trying to balance motherhood and work. I definitely felt at various points that I haven’t gone for certain opportunities because I worried that I would have to work late and be away from the kids or have to travel. It’s been constant mum guilt - wanting to be the best mum and the best worker. It’s hard. The infrastructure hasn’t been set up for us. When I got back from my first maternity leave, I remember seeing how far all my male colleagues had progressed in my career and I felt like I was starting over. It was a bit demoralising. The kids are older now, youngest just turned 4 so now it’s time to really push careerwise.