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I needed to be clear in my mind that the role I was progressing into was actually a role that I really wanted. I needed to explore what the role would look like, what it required me to do and how it required me to prepare. The step up I was looking at in the future was in my mind considerable and required me to think , behave and be different.
I could see that progression was going to be available in the near future, I wanted to make sure that next step was right for me. I had a number of questions including was the time right? Am I experienced enough? Am I right for that role? I looked around at people I know that were in similar roles and was trying to understand if I could be like them. Shine helped me turn it on its head, think about what I need to get from my next role, what I have to offer, what influences I wanted to have in my career and then work out what that role would look like. Instead of being bound by the role I had time to think about me, what I enjoy, what I am good at and how that can help the business I work in.
Shine helped me to work out that long term I wanted to be the MD of the company I work for. Shine has also enabled me to move into this role with a clear view on the type of MD I would like to be. Being authentic is key, I needed to know that I could take on this role and not only deliver for the business but deliver for myself on both a personal and professional level.
Shine had been recommended to me by a dear colleague after I shared my feelings of being stuck and not quite satisfied in my job. Up to this point, my career had been the result of taking opportunities as they came and I felt happy to be offered great chances for development regularly in an amazing company like Roche. But despite working in a lovely team, contributing to enabling patients access to medicines around the globe, I did not really feel passionate about my every-day job, which left me almost feeling guilty.
It was the atmosphere in the Bavarian countryside that had put me in the right mindset for finding myself; far away from home and work. I was with a group of fabulous women with various backgrounds, everyone was equal, encouraged to be vulnerable and for the first time, I dared to face reality and ask myself “How are you feeling Stella? What are your core values and are you living up to them? What do you want your life to be and what is holding you back?”.
It was two hours into the program when it dawned on me that I admired values I didn’t dare to fully embrace myself at home and at work, that I had projected the feeling of being stuck in my private life onto my job, that I was waiting for somebody else to make my dreams come true because I never dared to admit that I wasn’t alright and I realised that things wouldn’t just vanish if I continued putting on a strong face.
I left Shine with so much awareness for what I really wanted for my private and professional life in the short-, mid- and longterm, that I felt scared and utterly excited and energized at once.
I did not pull my life upside down all of a sudden. It felt much more as if I had a new-found sense of responsibility for my own happiness that created a shift from wanting my surroundings to change, to changing my life myself.
So today, less than a year later, I reviewed my 5-year goals and almost didn’t believe my eyes when realising that I have started to make every single one of them happen and so much more.
Since attending Shine I trained to become an executive coach, I changed my job, I made some significant changes in my private life and started to teach other people how to bake sourdough bread virtually – and the global pandemic we are in was more of a booster than a barrier.
This didn’t happen overnight. I worked on a few changes very deliberately and others felt like ‘they just happened’, as a result of living up to my core value of being my authentic self every day.
I am not a frustrated entrepreneur who is beat down by her 9-5, desperate to break away and be ‘free’. I really like my job in the media industry. I’ve done it for about 11 years now (including two maternity leaves). I’ve learned and continue to learn so much. I work with smart, kind people, who embrace a fast changing world. I get to be analytical but get to think creatively too. However, I’ve always wanted to build something and be truly responsible for whether it succeeds or fails…oh and I want to do it on my own terms. I also long to be much more creative in my day to day work, but I don’t think I have what it takes – nor want – to be a Creative Director.
I can still remember the stand-out exercise for me. We had to sit on our own and think about the things that give us energy; we had to think of our values. I also had to create a mood board to visually represent how I wanted to see myself and feel about the work I could do one day. When I observed my finished mood board,I strongly felt that I needed to build something that allowed me to play to my strengths and be around the things I love and that energised me.
Over the following years, I had a few business ideas. None of them left the ground because I had a strong set of values and criteria that I needed my work to align with. If it didn’t fit, I let it go.
When I was pregnant, I wanted baby clothes that incorporated the bold colours and beautiful prints I’d grown up with. However, I struggled to find something I liked and I felt like my only options were from small independent stores that made clothes out of traditional wax fabric. This fabric looks great, but wouldn’t be my choice of fabric to put on a baby.
I am inspired every day by my two daughters’ confidence and their lack of inhibition. Their spirited nature makes them the ideal ambassadors for these patterns and prints that I love so much. In a moment in my head, and in my heart, Mummy’s Muse was born. My design inspiration comes from African prints, however I like to play with how they exist within a Western context. This very much reflects my own heritage, I was born in Nigeria but have grown up in the UK. The offering solves a head problem – an online destination to buy beautiful and bold prints for children; and a heart problem – designing bold clothing for children that celebrates their fearless nature.
I was lucky enough to be nominated to attend Shine For Women in Jan 2016 which I was thrilled about – to have the chance to take two days out of life to focus on yourself is such a rare gift. My colleagues who had already been to Shine raved about how transformational it was, so the spaces were highly coveted!
The timing of it happened to coincide with just finding out I was pregnant again with my second child and all the conflicting emotions that can bring with it. I was thrilled for the news whilst also apprehensive about what that would mean for my career path…
My company had been incredibly supportive after my first child. Two years prior when I had returned from maternity leave they had unquestioningly accommodated my desire to transition from a digital product role into a client leadership role. Fast forward two years and I was poised for the next challenge. I was ready to take on more of a leadership role but I feared that another maternity leave might get in the way of that.
There were a couple of people from my company there, and a few others from similar backgrounds which meant that we understood the cultures in which many of us worked. As soon as we started talking, the safety of the space meant that everyone was open and honest (and emotionally free!) from the very start.
The exercises we did were incredibly powerful – I found it particularly useful to spend time reflecting on my values. I realised the significance to me of feeling part of something bigger – that sense of belonging really matters to me and that will continue to be a focus for the teams I build. I’ve worked out who my allies are and I now tell everyone to identify their champions and take strength from them. It helped me focus on my Bigger Game and think long term rather than worrying about being “out of the game” and absent from the workplace for a year’s maternity.
I’ve found myself coming back the principles I learnt again and again. They stand true whatever the circumstances. I revisited the techniques once my second maternity leave finished and made a bold move to step into a role that set me on the right path to leadership that I had wanted.
Since Shine set the wheels in motion I have started my dream job as Managing Director of PGOne which is Publicis Groupe’s media, data, content and creative agency, built to service Procter & Gamble. I’m still using what I learnt at Shine in sometimes unexpected ways – when you start a new job in the middle of a pandemic I have found that tools such as mapping your thoughts against the Circle of Concern vs the Circle of Influence can really help focus your energy on what you can and can’t control!
I came to Open Shine initially as an observer, we wanted to run a female leadership programme with Shine within my agency Maxus, and so I came to see what the experience would be like for the 200 wonderful women who would be selected to take part in that.
Having the gift of time to devote two days to talking and thinking about your own wishes, desires and ambitions is the biggest gift I think I have ever been given. Having the superb facilitators in Cal and Anna meant that I could not skirt around the real issues that lay underneath the surface, and instead was gently led and then sometimes more forcefully pushed to acknowledging what it meant to me.
I was guilty of being the good girl, believing that if I put my head down and did what was asked of me the career fairy godmother would bestow on me the opportunities I desired. Instead realising that no one gives a crap about my career as much as I do, I took back the reigns to my own life and created opportunities where they didn’t previously exist. I pitched to my global board to create a new job which I felt would benefit me and the organisation. And I was successful!
In 2017, Maxus merged with another agency and I decided it was time to make a bold move. Together with my business partner Sally Weavers, I set up Craft Media – an independent communications consultancy designed to join up creative and media thinking.
I attended Shine in 2018, and there’s something about being in Anna’s home and by the sea in Lyme Regis that makes it very different from other personal development experiences. Although my world is really massive at Roche, with so many like-minded people around it can also at times feel small. So it was brilliant to meet other women from diverse backgrounds at Shine – people in TV, writers, photographers – and from different parts of the world. It’s the richness, the closeness, the intimacy of the three days that’s why I’m still supported by the people I met to this day.
I really appreciated the feedback I got from the other women. It make me look at myself in ways I’d never thought about. What are my needs, my desires? Who’s supporting me? Should I be leaning on those people or not? Shine started a journey for me. It gave me the curiosity and courage to explore new things.
At the end I had three bold moves and I made them within a month! My role at Roche completely changed. I used to be in a very scientific and technical position, and now I’m in transformation, communication and engagement. I asked to lead the Women’s Group at Roche, and I speak more with purpose. My bigger game is to use my voice to make sure others are heard.
In lockdown Kate ran a series of interviews for Shine, to understand how women around the world were coping with a new way of working throughout the pandemic. You can watch these, here >
“Anna and Cal are straight-talking and nurturing, with an incredible ability to see the potential in everyone.”