How did you start out?
I didn’t know what I wanted my career to be when I was at school, so I followed the advice of a favourite teacher and studied what I enjoyed the most, which was languages. My French and German degree included a year abroad, which was a life-defining experience. I worked in Paris at Bosch Siemens in their communications department, then as an English language assistant at two secondary schools in Innsbruck, Austria. Having to navigate life in two different countries before I’d fully mastered the languages was hugely challenging, but fulfilling in so many ways, and confirmed to me that I wanted my career to have an international focus.
After graduating, I got a telesales job selling databases and software to chemists in France and Germany. Not the most exciting of jobs, but I got to use my languages and save up for an 8 month trip around South America. I came home speaking some Spanish and wanting to move to London to work in some kind of marketing or PR role, ideally in education or not for profit sector. A friend of mine got a job at the British Council at that time and I remember feeling very envious!
I was applying for all kinds of junior roles and saw an advert for a Sales and Marketing Coordinator at St Giles language school. I read the job description and thought it sounded completely perfect – luckily I got the job. I stayed there for 5 years, eventually managing the sales and marketing department, before moving to University of the Arts London (UAL) as Head of International Marketing. Then The PIE happened.
What helped you get as far as you have?
Hard work, determination, resilience, integrity, ambition, and being competitive. I’ve always been happy to roll my sleeves up and get stuck in whenever I needed to – I don’t have any airs or graces.
Parents who gave me the freedom to make my own decisions at a young age. They help look after my kids while I’m overseas now and I couldn’t do it without them – or my in-laws, who do the same. A very supportive husband who understands how important my career is to me. Supportive managers who have believed in my ability, encouraged me and pushed me out of my comfort zone. When I went back to work after having my first child, my (60 year old, male) manager was fully open to part-time, flexible working and made it very easy for me to make the transition back into work after a year of maternity leave. So - a lot of support from others. Also, brilliant colleagues – I feel very lucky to have worked with many talented people throughout my career.
What piece of advice would you give to your 21-year-old self?
Be less concerned about what other people are doing or what they might think of you, and focus on what feels right for you.
A low point in your career/life and how you overcame it?
Not so much a low point but a very challenging period was when we first set up The PIE in 2011. I was working 3 days a week at UAL, had a 1 year old at home and had just moved out of London to a new town. I didn’t switch off for quite a long time – I was working on The PIE during my commute to and from London, every evening after I had put my son to bed and at the weekend. I did that for 2 years until I had my daughter and then moved full time to work at The PIE. Setting up a new company was immensely exciting but very full on and time-consuming, but commitment to and belief in what we were setting up got me through. 6 years in and I can definitely say it was all worth all the effort.
One word to describe yourself?
Conscientious is what comes to mind, but I think that makes me sound very boring!
What are you most proud of in your professional life?
Having been part of the founding team at The PIE. We have all worked very hard to create the company we have today, and although the hard work doesn’t stop, I really enjoy hearing the positive feedback we get from our readers and clients around the world about how much they love and value what we’re doing. That we have made an impact on so many people in so many different countries. I am also very proud that we have created a family-friendly and flexible working environment for our team. Everyone has the opportunity to work from home 2 days a week and we have many part-time members of staff who work flexible hours remotely. It also means I get to do the school run 4 days a week, which I really value.
Your first paying job: What and when?
About 17. I worked in lots of factories during school and university holidays - the first one was packing clothes for a clothes catalogue. I also cleaned second hand computer keyboards and worked in bagel, bread and car polish factories...My low point was working on a carbonara ready-meal station – I never mastered putting the ham and mushroom in the correct quantities in the bottom of each pot on the conveyor belt! Being alongside people who worked in factories full-time made me even more determined to succeed in my career.
What do you do to keep yourself centered?
Exercise – pilates, yoga, running – and family walks in the beautiful Surrey Hills at the weekend. I’ve recently started listening to a meditation app in the mornings – Insight Timer - which helps me to focus my wandering mind and find gratitude in the simple things. Bedtime chats with my kids. Music. Getting to bed early.
What’s your favourite quote?
Everything will be OK in the end. If it’s not OK, it’s not the end.
I really believe this…
What goes around, comes around.
They may forget what you said, but they will never forget how you made them feel.
I always remember what one of my managers at UAL said to me…
You don’t have to know everything, you just need to know where to go to find the answer.
What would your superpower be?
I’d would love to not need to sleep. When I’m feeling stressed or overwhelmed, I struggle to sleep well which has a big knock on effect.