Roz Hurst is the Strategy Director at Partners Andrews Aldridge, part of the Engine Group. During her maternity leave she recently attended an initiative run by the company called “Better with Balance” which aims to address and fix the gender imbalance in the industry and work to increase the number of women in senior roles. She attended the course prior to going on maternity leave and so as one of her bold moves she pledged to do more writing whilst she was off work, to ‘get her voice out there’. We have chosen some of her content as our guest blog.

When starting to write a little more about myself for this article I realised, with a shock, that I have been working in this industry for 17 years!  My career to date has been fun.  I’ve worked at some great places along the way, met some amazing people and made some great friends.  I started out as a website programmer before transitioning into strategy, moving up to strategy director.

Up until now I’ve managed to make it to where I am on my own and through simple hard work.  The next step requires something more. 

Almost a year ago, I was lucky enough to be one of 14 women selected to be part of a fantastic initiative designed to address and fix the gender imbalance and work towards increasing the number of women in senior roles at Engine (the company where I work).  This initiative consisted of training, sponsoring and personal development activities to support and accelerate our journey as leaders by helping us grow and develop to achieve all we can.  A core component of this is the amazing Shine course we had the privilege to attend.  The course is designed to challenge those who attend to build a personal vision for success and see, and create, a clear future. 

Whilst at first it felt indulgent, almost selfish to spend the time focused on ourselves, boy is it important to take “me time” as we very rarely give ourselves true time for us.  Not only was this about time for individual focus to help provide clarity for our OWN futures but Caroline and Anna, who run the course – both hugely inspirational and empowering in their own right – pushed, probed and challenged us to ensure we got the best results and avoided the generic platitudes that are so easy to fall back on.

We all found the course hugely empowering and it clearly had a positive impact on all us.  Not only did it boost our confidence, provide clarity, motivation and a drive to become the architects of our own futures it also has had tenable results.  In the ten months since attending the course there have been two babies, four promotions, one increased role, one woman identified as a Campaign’s Woman of tomorrow and one offered partnership.

The Shine course was a chance for me to take stock, work out where my strengths are and what I need to work on.  It is also time to get clarity on what I want to get out of my career, how far I want to come and what is holding me back from getting there. I found it renewed my desire and passion for work and gave me added drive, especially whilst on maternity leave! 

It helped us to see how we came across and what we do naturally well; providing awareness of our abilities and potential as well as the unique value that, as individuals, we bring to any situation.

I found the course provided a boost in confidence – greater belief in myself but also the confidence not to simple shut up and put up with things I am unhappy or uncomfortable with.  It helped provide me with the ability to take charge of my gremlin and by doing so, removing its power.

It was also reassuring to find that others were facing similar challenges – we weren’t alone in how we felt and the trials we faced (internal and external).

The course connected together 14 strong women across our agency – this network is invaluable both in terms of professional connections across companies, but also with personal ones.  It provides a group of women to benchmark against that helps push each other to improve.

The course didn’t only just light a fire underneath us all it also provided practical tips, tools, techniques and approaches to rely upon time and time again.  Not only does this help us but the influence stretches further as we can utilise these in the way we work with others, and other members in our teams – helping empower the next generation of [women] leaders.

The course, coupled with an internal sponsorship programme really gave us the headspace to focus on our own careers and most definitely achieved its goal of “challenge, clarify, boost and champion” and helping each and everyone of shine.

This article is part of the beginning of putting myself ‘out there’ more and taking the next step – hopefully one that will help inspire and empower the next generation of women in our industry.

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(Roz is pictured third from the right in the main image)

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I have used the fear ladder and walking meetings a lot with my team2017 Engine course attendant

Prior to Shine I’d worked at Engine for six years and had few connections to other women in different businesses. It’s been a great help knowing you have the support of others in the building2017 Engine course attendant

“[Shine] Helped me see that I am at the right place – it is easy to often think, what’s next, what’s next but Shine helped me see that I am at the right place with the right opportunities ahead of me” 2017 Engine course attendant