We share some of the key takeaways from a panel session at our IWD 2023 event, exploring why and how women in our sector have created their own career pathways; one that plays to their strengths and better serves their needs and ambitions.
The session was hosted by Jess Charles, who kicked it off by sharing the history and power of red lipstick for women (which hails from the suffragette movement), then giving everyone in the room a red lipstick, asking them to put it on and share a selfie on social media, before dancing it out.
The panel, featuring, Venetia Campbell, former Principal Production Manager, International Events at HubSpot, Cassidy Knowles, Owner & Director of Events and Operations, Chorus, and Charlotte Bute, Senior Project Coordinator, Strata, along with Charles, then shared their insights from their own personal experiences and career paths.
Take control of your own career path
The panel discussed how it can be easy to fall into the trap of letting the people and organisations you work for influence and define your career path for you. “I am in control of my career now, but it took me 15 years to get here. When I first started out, I feel like my career was always in the control of the company I worked for,” said Campbell. She shared a comment that a former boss said to her, which made her feel like she needed to be less vocal and more passive and impacted her confidence and progression.
Define your own strengths
Campbell and Charles also both talked about how important it is to define your own strengths. “My companies previously have usually defined my strengths, which to a degree are true. But when you let someone else define your own strengths, it can make you think you are not good at anything else and limit yourself,” said Campbell. Charles agreed, adding: “I started to believe all I had was what people told me what my strengths were. It’s important to do a self-inventory of your strengths, identify what they are, and what new ones you could add to your bow.”
Don’t let fear hold you back!
Bute shared that while she worries about not reaching her full potential, she has tried to stop self-sabotaging her progress by not letting those worries hold her back. “I have got myself a mentor outside of work and cultivated a good working relationship with my line manager, which is very open and honest. The first session I had with my mentor, she said to me ‘you are the only person who can make the change,’ so I don’t let anything hold me back. I am always open to trying new things at work, and it can be scary, but I love it. Success isn’t the end point, it’s the journey to get from where I am now, to where the leaders in this room are now.”
Invest in executive coaching to help hone your leadership skills
As advocated by our keynote speaker Lorraine Heggessey during her session, Knowles highly recommends executive coaching. “It really does help. We invest in executive coaching for everyone in our business because we see the value in it. We also support personal development, so if someone wants to learn a language or do a PHD, we will help to facilitate that.”
Keep sharing, and network, network, network!
When asked what final piece of advice they would give to the audience, Campbell said to keep sharing. “Events like this are important, and it’s important to keep talking and sharing your journey,” said Campbell. Knowles advised our audience to network, network, network: “Freelancing gave me an amazing network and I worked with some amazing leaders in different agencies. Having a bit network broadens your opportunity. It’s not what you know.”
Charles summed up the session perfectly with the following advice: “Remember you are your own CEO. Own your career and stop allowing people to run your journey. Ask for help when you need it and pay it forward when you can. And if you’re worried, put some red lipstick and Beyonce on and dance it out!”
Daytime photos by Hiba Noor, with evening Photography by Baz Seal