How did you start out?
In 1994 I was a recent graduate with a degree in Linguistics and a TEFL certificate - working in a bank with a second job selling fruit and veg in the local open air market. A friend rang and told me about a job she had signed up for in the summer and they were looking for more people - it was teaching English and leading activities for Embassy in one of their junior summer schools - I never looked back!
What helped you get as far as you have?
Grit. I believe if you are passionate about what you do, and motivated by your surroundings then you can achieve most things. I have put my hand up a lot over the years, (sometimes too much!!) taken on additional tasks and stepped outside of my comfort zone. I always strive for excellence over perfection in whatever I do.
I moved sideways a lot in my career, this has helped me gain a wider knowledge and experience of this industry which in turn has helped me when moving up the ladder. I have also had a wide variety of managers and colleague from whom I have been fortunate enough to learn and grow. So you could say it has been a team effort!
What piece of advice would you give to your 21-year-old self?
Don't sit within your comfort zone. Volunteer. Be kind, always. (Hmmm, that's three isn't it! If I have to choose one then definitely kindness!)
A low point in your career/life and how you overcame it?
When I was pregnant with my second child I became very ill and had to take some extended time off work. I was exhausted and my parents had to move in to help look after my daughter who at that time was 3 years old.
I felt extremely guilty that I was letting my colleagues down, my clients down and of course - my young daughter down.
Whilst a very difficult period, it was actually the best thing that happened to me - I was given the luxury of being able to reassess my life and prioritise what really matters - which is my family. That priority remains with me today, and has enabled me to have a very healthy work/life balance - that I tweak as soon as it falls off kilter!
One word to describe yourself?
What are you most proud of in your professional life?
Not so much something I am proud of, but the part of my working life that I enjoy the most - which is mentoring, coaching and supporting those both in my immediate team as well as colleagues around me. Their successes make me happy.
Your first paying job: What and when?
My father used to manage a printing company and my mother ran a 'Print Finishing' business from our house on a large housing estate in Basildon, Essex. Basically this involved huge lorries squeezing down the cul de sac delivering numerous boxes of printed material that needed finishing before going off to clients - stapling, gluing, collating, counting, rolling. My mother had a team of ladies who arrived at the house with 'borrowed' supermarket trollies to collect and deliver boxes - they were a formidable workforce of mothers from around the estate and I loved being involved. I spent many weekends collating calendars!
When I was 16 I got a real job wrapping Christmas presents at Tesco, but by then I was such a formidable calendar collator I could earn 5 times more an hour staying at home and helping the team of mothers on the estate - never got my own shopping trolley though - always regretted that!
What do you do to keep yourself centered?
I'm a mother of two - my children keep me grounded. Them and meditation.
What’s your favourite quote?
Ooh I am going to cheat as I have a few...
From a work perspective I often use the following quote to highlight that perhaps a change in direction is needed, or to encourage someone to look at something differently:
Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.
– Albert Einstein
Both my children made me little decorations at nursery with the below quote on it - I have them hanging on my dressing table and the words remind me every morning how important my role as a mother truly is:
To the world you may be one person, but to one person you may be the world.
– Dr. Seuss
And finally, my personal favourite:
Nobody puts baby in the corner.
– Patrick Swayze
Let's face it, you can't argue with Patrick!
What would your superpower be?
The ability to clone myself - I could get far more done and still be able to snuggle up on the sofa with my loved ones whilst doing it :)