Who runs your world?
Me, although occasionally it would be nice for someone else to be doing it instead! With a busy work and home life (two children, three step-children, a husband and a temperamental golden doodle dog) I have to be organised. Whilst it gives me pleasure to tick things off my ‘to do’ list, having previously had depression I now realise the importance of enjoying the here and now and creating memories rather than just getting stuff done.
Which woman/women empower/s you?
I am surrounded by amazing, talented women who, despite what life throws at them, still manage to support and care for others. My sister, Jo, is a brilliant graphic designer who waited a long time for my beautiful niece to come along. She is now 50 and handles the tantrums of a ‘spirited’ three year old with aplomb! My friend, Rachel, is a self-taught cake decorator, running her own business which has won several awards. My colleague, Jacqui, cared for her elderly parents, both of whom sadly passed away from dementia, and now runs marathons in their name. I don’t need to look far.
How does gender impact on your life/work experiences?
My parents had traditional roles but when I was in my teens they started their own business. Whilst they spent the same time ‘at work’ together, my mum still did all the work around the home and I tried to do the same. I believed I should do everything to the best of my ability being the best mother, best daughter, best wife, best lawyer. I strived for perfection and put massive pressure on myself. If I didn’t meet my own expectations, I had failed.
I stretched myself so thinly that I had a breakdown and was diagnosed with depression. That was in 2006 and I can now say it was the best thing that ever happened to me. Luckily I was able to have lots of talking therapy, including CBT, which changed my life.
My treatment taught me to be kind to myself and to be kind to others. No one ever knows what is going on in somebody else’s head or what their demons are.
One of my counsellors told me ‘7 out of 10’ is good enough which is something that I have adopted. 70% in an exam would be a first or a distinction so why isn’t that good enough?
What do you think the future holds for women both in your field and in the workplace overall?
I’m confident that the legal world in the next 5 to 10 years will look very different with more women studying law and joining the profession. We still have an imbalance in terms of senior leadership roles but that will change. Women are holding more in-house roles and have the buying power in terms of legal spend. It is proven that employers with a diverse workforce are more successful and most employers now realise that to be attractive to the talent market, they have to be more diverse, offering more opportunity.
What advice would you give to the next generation of female leaders?
Believe in yourself. Find something you are passionate about. Be supportive of each other – women can be each other’s worse critics. Understand yourself and don’t be tempted to bend your moral compass. Understand the importance of emotional intelligence and building relationships. Delegate at home!