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I gained permission to focus on myself.

Jo Davey, Global Learning Experience Lead, GroupM

The Challenge

You only get one life and I really wanted to work out how to make my biggest contribution!

Shine came at a pivotal moment for me. I had had by anyone’s standards, a hairy few years. I had burnt out during a pitch (see lovely before and after picture), suffered with ongoing mental health following that time, left my job, my dad had a heart attack and was in intensive care for 7 weeks, my husband had depression and then sadly, completely out of the blue my lovely mum contracted sepsis and died very suddenly two years ago.

The Solution

I’m not looking for sympathy here – but these challenges did seem to come in fast succession….

After being a very driven, full time working mum of two wonderful girls (now 13 and 15) I had to throw my hands in the air and “deal with it”. I needed to stop and work out what I had to do to grieve, to get well and to work out what my purpose was when life could (and for my mum was) be snatched away at any moment.

So, 2019 was the “getting better” year, I did a hell of a lot of yoga, got a therapist and a health coach and set up my own business where I could choose who and where and how I worked. I chose Xaxis, which is part of GroupM. A year after consulting with them they offered me a job as Global Director of People Performance and three months later I was booked to attend a Shine programme. Good decision Jo Davey!

The Result

Shine was the most incredible experience that gave me permission to focus on myself

Then I started to feel really rubbish again. After a lot of googling I realised I was menopausal (a bit early at 46 but hey ho I’ve always been early for everything). It completely blindsided me. The mood swings, the anger, the fatigue, the hot sweats, the foggy brain. The more I read about it the more flabbergasted I was – 25% of women have symptoms so severe that they consider or do give up work. Why is this not discussed? Why, when I tried to bring this up did people look embarrassed, like I was discussing something dark and sinister and never to be mentioned?

And that’s when Shine happened. I had just started treatment and it was just the most incredible experience to have permission to switch off from all the roles I do and focus on myself and my purpose. And also to hang out with some totally inspirational ladies  – both the Shine coaches and my colleagues – many of whom had been or were going through challenging times too.

My Bigger Game is to raise awareness of menopause so that others after me have better support

I built an internal support site for my company with information for affected individuals, their managers and their partners and friends. HR created a menopause policy and managers guide and I wrote an online training. I think the best thing we’ve done is to recruit Menopause Champions – women who are going through it or have gone through it – to share their stories. We’ve held lunch and learns and they’ve been attended at times (to my surprise) by nearly 100 people – many of whom have contacted me since saying that they hadn’t connected the dots that what they are feeling could be menopause!

I’ve got braver about talking about it externally too – and recently took part in a podcast on menopause and consciously planning the next part of my life with a New York Times Bestseller of a book called Essentialism. It was an amazing experience – and something I never imagined I would get to do! I’ve even put my name down for the Brighton Marathon – watch this space!

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