Don’t talk yourself out of it…another of my career 9 Situations



My body swerve into my third career; Commissioner for the Women’s National Commission (a UK public body) in 2009 was as a direct result of…

…my side-of-the-desk successes not my ‘day jobs’ which were seen as a given in view of the level of the role I was applying for.

However, I very nearly didn’t apply. This was because I felt that the Commission (and our then Government) would be looking for someone with a background as a feminist or female rights activist. This was a high profile, high status role that most CEOs of NGO’s (Non-Government Organisation) would give their right arm for, and it was my partner and my twin who said ‘what have you got to lose?’, so I applied. Had I known that over 650 others had also applied I know I would not have persevered, but I did.

I was appointed, and the reason I was chosen out of nearly 700 applicants was precisely because I was not from the same feminist and activist background as other Commissioners.  I was something fresh and different – exactly what they wanted and needed.

This role also led to my being approached to join the UK National Committee of UN Women (formerly UNIFEM) of which I have been a Vice-President for 2 years. I  also run a consultancy (the 9 Situations) which advises large organisations as to how they may increase their female leadership participation, and I regularly speak and write about women in leadership, and related topics.

Reflection:  I had very nearly convinced myself that I was not the right sort of hire they were looking for. Wrong. I never assume any more, and certainly not the worst. When we won the British Army executive coaching contract early in 2014, we did this against a backdrop of people saying we wouldn’t win it. But we did, and we will continue to surprise in this way!