In the run-up to International Women’s Day, I’ve taken some time to reflect on women I know who have demonstrated the power of supporting and promoting other women to enable them to excel.
In many ways, I’m able to sit here today and share these thoughts with you because of these women and the confidence that they instilled in me.
I am forever indebted to every single one of you—to these and so many other women, this is for you!
My earliest days
I went to an all-girls secondary school, where I was surrounded by girls and women who were doing incredible things—whether it was academia, sports, music, theatre, or charity work.
I believe that it’s largely a result of this environment that it never occurred to me that I would ever be limited in what I could and could not do. Only in hindsight do I appreciate how incredibly fortunate I was that my environment provided this self-assurance from such a young and transformative age.
Throughout the course of my education, I was fortunate to have several inspirational teachers. One, in particular, left a lasting impression on me, for which I will always be grateful.
I selected geography as one of my GCSEs for all of the wrong reasons. I had limited interest in the subject, but someone had said the coursework was straightforward and meant I didn’t have to take design technology or art.
Great start to my schooling, right?
Within 10 minutes of my first lesson, I was blown away by this teacher—her quiet confidence, her passion for her topic, and a contagious energy to top it off. She clearly loved her work and educating others. She set the expectation that there was no room in her classroom for distractions—commanding the utmost focus and respect.
For what it’s worth, I didn’t find the coursework particularly straightforward, but now, as a result of selecting Geography GCSE, I have a lifelong appreciation of the importance of showing up and being passionate about what you do.
In many ways, I’m fortunate that my career since has been littered with a myriad of inspirational women, and I continue to be surrounded by such women on a daily basis:
The friend and previous colleague in a senior leadership role, who will only hire people who can do things better than she could do them herself and then completely celebrate their successes.
The manager who was constantly pushing for my promotions (even when I hadn’t asked for them myself, and went so far as to scold me for not asking for them!) and displayed such empathy and compassion when a loved one was unwell.
The friend who didn’t know what they wanted to do with their career and dared to take a journey to get to where they are today with plenty of trial and error, and loves where they ended up.
All those who balance their work with young children and the logistical gymnastics that often entails, as well as those who have stepped away from the working world to devote themselves to childcare–I am in complete awe.
We all have work to do
We all (men and women) have a responsibility to consider our actions toward others. We must also do our part to provide an inclusive working environment for all, including opportunities for women to excel.
I feel fortunate and proud to be working for a company that celebrates the successes of all employees, promotes diversity across the workplace, and supports everyone to excel. And there is no way I could write or conclude a post about women who inspired me without including my mother.
She had a full-time career in publishing—which she adored. It meant I grew up with the expectation that work was something to be enjoyed as opposed to tolerated.
This value gave me the confidence to pursue those things that most interest me and to carve out a career in VC-backed tech businesses.
And not only did she raise three children who (I can say with complete confidence) were not always easy, amid a menagerie of animals (my fault—sorry and thank you), but she also carved out time to focus on her passions—writing her own books and poetry.
So a very special thank you to her!