This is a snippet of my story. In a nutshell, I’ve felt failure in my late teens, lost my Mum when I was only 24, been brave and switched careers three times, survived a violent attack, advanced my career in a highly-male industry whilst juggling being a single parent… and now I am feeling incredible fulfilment after starting my own business.
So, what happened?
I experienced my first major life lesson when I spectacularly failed my A Levels at 18. I don’t mean I got a bad grade… I mean I failed each and every one of them – U, U & N. Who knew those were even grades? That failure cost me a year of my life, as I left my sixth form and spent a year at college to retake them. I passed them all second time around, but every year as my friends from Cardiff University and I celebrate birthdays I remember why I am a year older than them all.
It cost me a year… But I also gained a lot during that time. I learnt what failure feels like and it didn’t sit well with me. I learnt how scary it was when I thought my future career had been lost. And I learnt that when I knuckle down and work hard, I can achieve my goals.
After that blip, I got a good grade for my degree and started my career as a project manager in London in the early 1990s, working on a tech project at Transport for London that was ahead of its time – you might have seen the Countdown signs that tell you when your next bus is due? Our department was a great place to work, rather like a family. My funniest moment was talking to a bus controller about how to use the new IT system, and then realising he hadn’t ever used a computer. I had to go back to square one, explaining how to use a mouse!
It was a few years before I got itchy feet and felt the need to be in a more fast-paced environment, still with the same customer focus. This was when I switched careers to work in Telecoms and IT, still as a project manager. I worked as a consultant for Applied IT and got some great experience with a variety of IT and Telco companies, before settling permanently at Virgin Media and being promoted through the ranks to Director, and then to Vice President at Virgin’s parent company, Liberty Global.
By now I was a single parent living in Hampshire, yet my team were all based in Amsterdam. It was a logistical nightmare and there was no family on hand to help! I survived, although probably at the expense of my wellbeing. I was exhausted most of the time, juggling a stressful job, two small children and the red eye to Amsterdam. I didn’t need an expensive gym, my exercise regime was the sprint through Heathrow and Schipol airport twice a week!
Another company re-organisation was my chance to take redundancy, and temporarily get off the hamster wheel. This was the natural pause in 2020 that I needed, and it just so happened that the world was pausing too.
Whilst I was taking the time to consider my next move I was approached by an ex-colleague and asked to coach someone on his SLT at KCOM. I jumped at the chance. I found I was a natural and decided to do a coaching course to improve my skills further. Still considering my next move, I started to coach myself…
- What am I really good at, what are my core skills?
- Which of these skills do I love more than the others?
My career had given me a love of tech and a talent for delivering project outcomes, but more than that – a real passion for leading large teams, developing people and helping them grow. This was my lightbulb moment. I now knew my calling. Fortunately, I already had some experience under my belt!
Starting my own coaching and training business seemed a natural step after that – Borderless Performance was born in July 2021. My business perfectly marries my successful corporate career with my passion for developing people. It’s still early days, and I am so excited to see my business growing.
Watch this space. Maybe you’ll come with me on the ride, as I navigate the next chapter?