#TechSheCan!

We are delighted to be part of PwCs #TechSheCan initiative.  Since the inception of WayfinderWoman we have been encouraging women and young girls to think about STEM as a career and technology in particular.  Our motivational business conference last year ‘Inspiring Through Technology’ highlighted the enormous impact of tech and the unlimited opportunities available within the industry.

Across the board, fewer than 30% of women consider tech as a career option and of those only 3% say that tech is their first choice.  Yet this is where the careers of the future are going to be located.  Throughout the industry there are cries that employers cannot find the people they need with the necessary skills, or the motivation to learn.   By inference then, jobs within that sector are going to be well paid and employers will have to be flexible in their working practices to keep employees on board.  Some skills are so difficult to find that you can quote your own hours and rate of pay.  Why wouldn’t that appeal to a woman who wants a satisfying career that fits around their family commitments?

We kicked off our commitment to the initiative with a series of workshops running through April to July in partnership with TechResort and Eastbourne Volunteers to encourage women to consider a new career within tech.  Watch this space!

The Power of No

Our guest blog  comes from Beverley Thompson, former BBC Journalist and Presenter now Campaigns and Community Engagement Manager at Southern Water. For anyone who’s been demoralised by rejection, this is definitely a must read!

I am incredibly lucky. My current job allows me to work with colleagues, charities and communities to make a positive difference. Twenty five years ago – an incredible quarter of a century – I would never have dreamed I would be working for a major utility with three million plus customers, and me overseeing the campaigns and projects that impact our most precious resource – water.

I also have twenty years’ experience as a journalist and broadcaster and I have worked all over the world. I am really proud of what I achieved then and what I’m doing now.

So how did I do it? Well I have a history of taking risks and making the most of the chances that we are all offered IF we choose to recognise them as positive and empowering. So here’s the trick – and it is so simple you may find it ludicrous – but just try it!

Never be afraid to ask –to be rejected or disappointed. The answer NO is usually the worst that can happen- and to my knowledge that two letter word has no lasting physical effects and with a positive outlook NO can be the incentive to move on and achieve.

My first big chance came along when I was just 20. I had finished a degree and was part way through a Post Graduate Diploma in Broadcast Journalism. One day – looking through the Media section in the Guardian, (these are the days before the internet, linked in etc.!) I saw an advertisement for a TV newsreader for BBC Wales in Cardiff. Now let’s be clear – this was a chance and a risk of the first order. I had little experience as a journalist and I had never been on TV. I did have one card – I could speak Welsh. I had been to a secondary school in Wales. This was my first big job interview and I travelled to Cardiff in absolute terror! Just before I went in, I thought, what is the worst that can happen here? I won’t get it – they will say NO – I will be rejected. Actually when you weigh that up against the best that can happen – I will get it – they will say yes – I will be at the start of my career – there’s no contest is there? NO won’t kill you! I went through the interview or board as the BBC calls it and I did get the job.

My time at the BBC was peppered with chances offered and risks to be taken. I put myself forward for jobs that in truth both terrified and inspired me. How was I hosting a live TV debate with four guests and one hundred guests? How was I hosting a live radio phone in? The answer is that I applied for the positions – laughed at the notion of NO and went for it.

When I did confront NO – I treated it like an occupational hazard – it wasn’t a judgement about me and my abilities – it was about business, skill sets and maybe a personality issue. The fact is NO hasn’t harmed or changed me.

Today, I find myself in the position of interviewing and managing people. It is a huge responsibility and the pressures on candidates and colleagues are still immense. However, I believe you can spot the ones who have faced down their fear of NO. They are the ones who if unsuccessful ask for feedback and advice, they use NO to inform their next application and interview – they work to turn NO into their YES.

You see NO is a negative word – but it doesn’t have to be. Change your relationship with the word NO and embrace the risks and chances that life brings! You will fly!

‘You are that talented woman who doesn’t see how talented she is’

Our guest blogger Sarah Fox landed up as a speaker and as a construction solicitor as a happy result of the suggestions of a partner in her law firm who believed Sarah had the right skills before Sarah believed it. Alison was her boss, then friend, and they are still in touch today, although they haven’t worked together for over 10 years.

Four years ago I was chatting to my sister over coffee, in Ed’s diner near Euston, waiting for a train home. She wanted to know why I was different – something she’d had to ask herself regularly since she was my identical twin. I’d been waffling in a rather lawyerly fashion about my business and she was getting bored…

She kept asking and I kept blustering.

Just before my train was due I proudly declared that the reason I was different was that – unlike my contemporaries and peers in the legal industry – I could write a construction contract in 500 words. I’m not sure where that gem came from and I guess my reticence showed in my face. She challenged me, menacingly asking “What… really? Really really?”

It was a matter of weeks later that I had written the contract, and, having ticked that task off, I showed it to her. Ta-da. Mission accomplished.

Success was mine.

And what did I do with this idea? I sat on it. I showed it to a few select friends and when one of my lawyer friends was scathing, I got scared.

Who was I, I thought to myself, to challenge the received wisdom that contracts had to be long and complex? Who was I, female upstart, to try and simplify the standard industry contracts down from 50,000 words to a mere 500? Who was I, an imposter, to do something new and innovative?

Writing the contract was just the start of my journey. I didn’t consider myself an expert (despite having 20 years’ experience in writing construction contracts, at least the 10,000 hours that Malcolm Gladwell refers to in Outliers). I didn’t appreciate what I did know that others didn’t. I didn’t value my talents and expertise.

It didn’t matter that I started to use the contract in training workshops and be asked if I would sell it to them. It didn’t matter that people learnt about it and it piqued their interest. It didn’t even matter when others started to say it was what the industry needed.

I continued to sit on my idea.

So what changed? There was a glorious synchronicity of events…

First, this quote from Playing Big by Tara Mohr slapped me around the face and woke me up: “To us, you are that talented woman who doesn’t see how talented she is. You are the woman who – it’s clear to us – could start an innovative company or pull one out of the dysfunction it’s in, improve the local schools, or write a book that would change thousands of lives. You are that fabulous, we-wish-she-was-speaking-up-more woman.”

Second, I got a mentor who I really trusted and he made it clear that sitting on my idea was not an option.

Third, I got the courage to send it to an industry commentator who immediately emailed me that he loved it. Wow!

With those events in place, I realised that playing small and considering myself an imposter was not helping me to serve others. That was when I decided that I could challenge the received wisdom, simplify contracts and do something new and innovative.

Sometimes it is not just about the knowledge, skills, and expertise you have. Sometimes success depends on having the character, the confidence and the support to make a difference.

 

#100 years

It’s difficult to accept that one hundred years ago women had no say in who would rule their lives, who would write the laws, who would represent them at Parliament.  WayfinderWoman are running a series of events to celebrate the emancipation of (some) women, those over 30 with property, and in May they are going to sing out that celebration.

They can announce that Bourne Chorus, the well-known choral group will be joining their WayfinderWoman presents evening of professional music and readings from suffrage writings on 9 May at Christchurch, Seaside, Eastbourne.

It will be a music evening with a difference, perhaps unique for Eastbourne.  In the beautiful environs of the church guests will be able to enjoy a glass of wine and listen to the haunting melodies from Fiona Horsford, harpist.  A highly skilled musician her repertoire ranges from classical to jazz to pop.  Intertwined with the music, professional  actor Kay Cadell will read extracts from writings which have been unearthed by one of Wayfinder’s Heritage project volunteers.

In the second half the sublime Bourne Chorus will perform their own archipelago interpretation of music that reflects the strength and determination of the women who fought for the vote. Their varied programme will bring the audience into today’s world, whilst Kay Cadell also performs extracts from writings through the ages.

Come and join us to celebrate #100 years over wine and music. Entry is £15 in advance and £20 on the door. Tickets can be purchased by emailing info@wayfinderwoman.com

WayfinderWoman wins new award!

Women who’s voices are not being heard in Eastbourne and Wealden will soon get help to change that thanks to funding from the Big Lottery Fund.

The £9,962 award from Awards for All will be used to run a series of dynamic workshops in Eastbourne and Uckfield  that will help women be better able to express their opinions, be more confident in their decision making and more willing to step outside their comfort zone.  Women will be more aware of their qualities and thus approach potential employment with more self-assurance and express themselves more easily.

They will then be supported to design, organise and run their own events to support other women in expressing their views about the issues they’re finding and what they can done about it.   The activities will also link to the AQA unit award scheme so women will gain certificates of achievement which can be used on CVs and will also boost their confidence.

The project will be run over the next 12 months and anyone from Eastbourne or Wealden that is interested in joining the workshops can get in touch by emailing info@wayfinderwoman.com

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