I was an APM-accredited Project Manager working in the IT industry. I had worked in the UK and Europe implementing rollout, maintenance and support contracts. Before that, I lived and worked in Zimbabwe as part of a team working on a complex infrastructure project with the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe.
We returned from a pre-baby splash-out holiday to Hong Kong and Bali. My husband and I were lodging in a friend’s house in Manchester, whilst we waited for our new-build house to be completed.
You probably get the picture so far! First baby on the way, bigger house, bigger mortgage – oh, and a husband who was also responsible for financially supporting 2 children from his previous marriage. And we’d just had a big “splash-out” holiday with the aid of our credit cards.
Then it all went wrong!
Within a week of returning from holiday, my husband was made redundant. Two weeks after that, I received a phone call that led me to believe that the same was going to happen to me. I was correct in that assumption.
My husband remained out of work for the rest of my pregnancy and until Max was one month old. Meanwhile, the house was completed, we were financially committed with no option to back out and we moved into the new house just before I was due to give birth.
Fast forward several months and my own redundancy threat magically disappeared (that’s a story for another day over a glass of wine!)
As you can imagine, it was an uncertain and stressful time. I spent the majority of my pregnancy wondering if we were going to be able to afford to keep the roof over our heads!
I was browsing through The Times magazine supplement and came upon an article about Life Coaching. I was intrigued and phoned the number given at the end of the article.
I hired a Life Coach and it literally changed my life.
By this time I was not feeling the love within my organisation. I felt that my company, and the industry as a whole, did not quite know what to do with me when I was unable to be “one of the lads”. And my employer liked the word “flexibility” providing it pertained to the employee being flexible, not the other way round!
When I enquired about a phased return to work when Max was 6-months old, my Manager told me; “There’s no such thing as a Project Manager”. On more than one occasion my husband and I argued as to whose meeting with an overnight stay was more important, as we faced the conundrum of how we could both fulfil our roles and still have someone to pick up our baby from his Child-Minder.
Unsurprisingly, the continuing issue of the female brain drain in technology is at the heart of the work I now do as a coach to help organisations value and retain female talent.
So my “impossible goal” was to leave my well-paid career with car and pension and set up a business doing something completely different. At the time I decided I wanted to train as a Baby Yoga Teacher and as a Life Coach. My business was going to be a mixture of both, with me helping new mums with their goals as well as their baby’s flexibility!! I did train as a Baby Yoga teacher, but I didn’t get excited by the prospect of running baby yoga classes. However, we did have a son who enjoyed being swung upside down by his ankles from an early age!
It was helping people to achieve their potential – coaching – that really lit my fire. It sounds very “Miss World” but I loved the idea of helping people transform their lives. And my favourite aspect of my Project Management role was working with people to achieve a goal. In short, I love people. Coaching, as it turns out, was very “me”!
Yup… I was made redundant. But by that time, it wasn’t a fearful event, but more a sign that the World was conspiring to help me with my goal of setting up my own coaching practice.
It took guts, courage, self-belief, determination, application, hard work and most all, a leap of faith. I was lucky that I had a very supportive husband – that certainly helped. And it wasn’t a straightforward journey. I took a part-time job as a Sales Rep to allow me to spend one day per week on building my coaching practice. I hated that job, but then again, it was a means to an end and I had my vision firmly set.
I firmly believe that the net always appears for those brave enough to leap. I’ve seen it happen time after time with the hundreds of courageous clients I’ve had the privilege to work with. My coaching business is a joy and I feel incredibly blessed to be one of those people who finds the end of the working day always comes around too fast!
Incidentally, this is a photo of me leaping into a pool as part of a race I did in 2011 called “Tough Guy Nettle Warrior”. You will find many colourful descriptions of this race on their website, including this:
“The only course In the world designed to remove your Bravado – Courage and give it to the girl behind you!”
Of course, no net appeared after I leapt, but there was water. And I’m jolly glad I did leap….
I have just been appointed as the Regional Director of Forward Ladies for the North West of England and Isle of Man.
On 1st June 2015 I will be launching my Podcast Show: “Inspiring Women”. This will be a monthly podcast in which I interview high-flying women who actively support female leadership. Women need these kind of role models.
And I continue to leap, step up and dare greatly. It’s what I want for my clients and so it’s how I live my life.
I now have 2 boys, a dog and a boyfriend! My marriage ended a couple of years ago and I am now in the process of divorce. However, I am more confident, happier, fitter and healthier than I have ever been. I am clear in the direction my business is going and I have strong self-belief. In other words, I truly walk my talk as a Coach.
I get frustrated when I see women with huge potential holding themselves back through fear, because I know, from experience, what happens when you push through that fear.
As I mentioned earlier, I feel very strongly that there is still much to do to redress the gender imbalance issues at work. Far too many talented females “drop out” from their careers and it is poor business sense to ignore this brain drain. My career path would have been very different if I’d been employed by a more enlightened company that had reflected more on their policies and culture. Their share price has never recovered since I left! 😉
I have shared my story here because connection is a crucially important value for me. It is important for you to connect with me if we are going to work together in any shape or form.
If there’s one thing above all that I’d like you to take away from reading my story, it’s this: YOUR impossible goal is possible, too. And that applies whether you are reading this as an individual or in your professional capacity.
I’m always interested to hear other people’s stories, so if any aspect of my story has resonated with you, do get in touch via email or social media.
Or, if you’re still browsing, click here to read “Is this you?”