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A Day In The Life Of... Careers

A Day in the Life of Director: Sally Marshall

Find Your Flex is delighted to be delivering our latest installment of the Day in the Life Of series. Sally Marshall is someone who wears many career hats, but is still able to find true work-life balance!

Sally is a social enterprise advisor as well as the director of her own business. Take a look at how Sally finds her day to day and what drives her in her career!

WHAT DOES A WORKING DAY LOOK LIKE FOR YOU?

I currently have 2 contracts with Social Enterprise Kent, working with business owners as a social enterprise adviser. This involves talking to businesses about where they are and where they want to be, putting in place a strategy for increasing awareness and growing their network.

I also work with community interest companies and charities and they often want help identifying and applying for funding. I also run my own business, so I work on that during the evenings and weekends.

I publish a business magazine, so networking is important when keeping the magazine in the forefront of people’s minds. I can do this through social media and engaging with other businesses.

I also have a membership for businesses offering group coaching, a monthly digital planner and social media templates. I know how difficult it can be to do everything in a business so I use my knowledge and experience to support others.

HOW DO YOU FIND A LIFE WORK BALANCE?

My role is pretty flexible and depends on which programme I’m working on and where my clients are based. For the Steer Your Business magazine, I schedule articles on social media during the weekend or evening which doesn’t take too long so it doesn’t impact too much on my personal time.

I’m also setting up a membership for sole traders and this again is automated a lot of the time, with intervention in the evening and over the weekend. I enjoy what I do so it doesn’t feel like work. I do however, plan some down time so that I switch off.

One of the downsides of having your own business is that you don’t switch off enough, so I know how important that is. Walking away from the laptop helps and switching off the phone as well which I do at the weekend.

ARE THERE ANY OPPORTUNITIES TO PROGRESS?

There aren’t any learning opportunities really at Social Enterprise Kent, particularly as I only work on short term contracts. But in my own business, I’m always learning.

My background in the House of Commons set me on the right track but there’s always room to learn more and develop my own knowledge and experience in different sectors.

WHAT IS THE BEST PART ABOUT YOUR ROLE?

The flexibility it gives me and the choices I have to work with different people in different businesses. I love the challenge and helping other businesses thrive.

IS THERE A DIFFICULT PART TO YOUR JOB?

Juggling everything! I need to be well organised in order to fit everything in. That is one of the reasons for developing the digital planner in a way that works for me and hopefully for others. It helps keep me focussed and on track. I also automate as much as possible so that I have more time for the face to face meetings.

IF SOMEONE WAS CONSIDERING A CAREER IN YOUR AREA OF EXPERTISE, WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO THEM?

I have a lot of transferable skills which I learned at the House of Commons. I didn’t realise how much I knew! I think it’s the same for everyone – you assume others know what you do so we all have something to offer.

I would advise them to research their market, work out what they have to offer and then just go out there and get started. If you wait until it’s perfect, you never actually start so running a business is a steep learning curve but in a good way.

THANK YOU SALLY FOR SHARING YOUR INSIGHTS AS A DIRECTOR! 

A great piece of advice from Sally! It’s inspiring to see a strong business leader so dedicated to her role and one who has so much passion within said role!

If you would like to gain even more insight into how to maintain a work-life balance while working in multiple roles, have a read of a day in the life of a lead power systems engineer and author and founder?

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A Day In The Life Of... Careers

A Day In The Life Of The Lead Power Systems Engineer and Author & Founder of Butterfly Books

We’ve been lucky to gain so much insight from people in a number of different roles. Now Find Your Flex is ecstatic to be presenting the next installment of our Day in the Life Of series.

The amazing Kerrine Bryan tells us how she achieves life-work balance with not one but two roles! Kerrine manages a career as a Lead Power Systems Engineer and is an Author and Founder of her company Butterfly Books. Take a look at her working day to see exactly what balance is!

What does a working day look like for you?

I work in the energy group for WSP USA, which is a global engineering and professional services consultancy. Based in New York, my role is a mixture of technical, project management and business development work. I’m working on some exciting power generation projects including co-generation, energy saving studies and renewable power. For my engineering role typically – I start early around 7 am and start off responding to emails and sorting out any admin. My role involves design so I use software to calculate electrical requirements to ensure electrical systems are safe for use. Mid-morning and early afternoon I tend to have meetings – those could be internal or client meetings. Then back to design work in the afternoon. Occasionally I have project site visits, mainly in the New York area, but I have also traveled to other states and countries for my work.

My work for Butterfly Books includes general running of the business, writing new books, and coordinating with the team on content that will help us make a social impact and spread awareness about our mission. We work closely with other organisations when creating the books so there are often collaboration meetings and our busiest time is when we have a book launch. But that’s also a lot of fun too!

How do you find a life work balance?

I’m married and have two daughters who are 4 and 2 years old. My husband and I moved to the US just before they were born so we don’t have the family support that we would have if we were in the UK. Pre-Covid, just like many industries, the engineering and energy industry were less flexible, but the pandemic has forced them to move to more flexible working patterns and companies have been able to see that it can work. My current employer has always been flexible. I’m currently working part-time in my engineering role, so that’s 3 long days per week. This gives me the time I need for organising the kids (including school run and extra-curricular clubs) and also keeping Butterfly Books going – which is a UK based social enterprise.

I work on the Butterfly Books on the days off for the few hours whilst the kids are in school and also in the evenings once they are in bed. My husband does the school run on the days that I’m engineering, and I do the school run on the other days. The flexibility of my engineering role has really helped be achieve work-life balance.

Are there any opportunities to progress?

Yes definitely, particularly with the skills gaps in engineering there is always an opportunity. I was recently supported by my employer to study for and take a US professional exam. This involved me taking some time off to study, working lots of late nights. In terms of running Butterfly Books and being a business owner, that’s more self-learning/. By building a network of people doing similar things, as I have done, we learn from each other too.

What is the best part about your role?

The best part of engineering is that not one day is the same. Every day presents a challenge, so work is never boring, plus I always learn something new every day. Similarly with running my business, Butterfly Books, it’s a continuous learning curve. But what keeps me going is knowing that we are working towards having a positive impact on equality across industries and different careers.

Is there a difficult part to your job?

I can honestly say that there haven’t been too many difficulties in my engineering role. The publishing industry, however, is very traditional and rigid with many barriers to entry. This is something I’ve had to circumnavigate when setting up Butterfly Books.

If someone was considering a career in your area of expertise, what advice would you give to them?

If someone was considering a career in engineering I would say to speak with engineers – and if you don’t know any then there are plenty of resources or organisations that can put you in touch with engineers – such as the Institute of Engineering and Technology. When it comes to publishing – I’m still learning – but again it’s the same approach of reaching out to organisations and building a network to share ideas and learn from others.

Thank you Kerrine for sharing your insights as The Lead Power Systems Engineer and Author & Founder of Butterfly Books!

Thank you so much to Kerrine who an excellent role model for anyone who is driven and is looking to have a varied professional life while still maintaining life-work balance!

To read more about what a working day looks like in different roles, why not take a read of the day in the life of Business Support Manager Akinsanya Tolulope!

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A Day In The Life Of... Careers

A DAY IN THE LIFE OF BUSINESS SUPPORT TEAM MANAGER: Akinsanya Tolulope

It’s important in every company to keep the ball rolling in all areas of business. That is why the role of Business Support Team Manager is one of the most instrumental roles within any business, as they are often the people to turn to for all forms of support that will ensure employees meet KPI’s.

This is why Find Your Flex is so excited to be presenting the latest installment of our A Day in the Life of series. As we gain insights from HMRC’s very own Business Support Manager Akinsanya Tolulope! Who explains the responsibilities of her role and how she maintains work-life balance.

What does a working day look like for a Business Support Team Manager?

I ensure that the CCM and regime teams are supported in delivery of the Large Business operating model. Directly line manage a cross regime team of Band AO’s who support all stakeholders across LB SNI and undertake general corporate support duties. I ensure that my team meets all KPI’s and successfully deliver on the support functions within their remit. A day in my role would start with ensuring that the arranged cover for the regional mailbox is available and if not, to find a suitable cover as soon possible. To find a suitable cover, I will have to communicate the situation with the team and ask for volunteers to cover fully or partially. I must ensure that work is picked up across the team and that nothing misses the KPI’s.

I review my teams leave position, approve any request and discuss any inconsistencies with the affected person. I am also one of the single points of contact for the regime handling systems. I manage access and permissions for colleagues on the regime handling systems and the mailbox within my line of business. I am a key member of the Race network, actively supporting the business to deliver on REAP. So, I spend part of my days catching up tasks to deliver on some of the network’s projects.

How do you find a work life balance?

HMRC is one of the best organisations when it comes to supporting employees on work-life balance. As a mother of two and an employee who lives an hour by driving from my primary place of work, I have benefitted greatly from available support. My role allows me to work from home, office or a mix of both.The organisation takes individual circumstances into consideration and appropriate measures in place for adequate interventions.

Are there opportunities to progress?

My role comes with opportunities such as apprenticeship, management development programme and wider HMRC/Civil service opportunities. This opportunities do not only help to excel in my current role but also have the potential to develop the right skills for future endeavours.

What is the best part about being a Business Support Team Manager?

The best part about my role is the opportunity to learn a little bit about everything and learn something new almost everyday. Managing a team that works across regimes means that aside from gaining knowledge on these regimes, I also get to collaborate with colleagues across different regimes. So I’m constantly meeting new people and regularly updating my knowledge of how the organisation works.

Is there a difficult part to your job?

Managing people can be quite challenging especially when there is the need to align their personal needs with organisational needs to achieve a positive outcome. I navigate this by gaining comprehensive knowledge of the subject matter. Communicating the benefits for the organisation and the individual to the affected person(‘s) and negotiate the best outcome for all.

If someone was considering a career in your area of expertise, what advice would you give them?

Be open to learning and make the best of every opportunity.

Thank you Akinsanya for sharing your insights as a Business Support Team Manager

It’s exciting to hear about such a challenging and varied role! And one that clearly takes a lot of passion to do well and we are so grateful to see how passionate Akinsanya is about her work. We know this will inspire readers who are of the same mind and what like to get into a role in the same field!

There are a variety of roles out there! If you want to read what its like to work in these, why not take a look at are other ‘A Day in the Life Of…’ installments!

Check out A Day in the Life Of R&D Category Lead: Aline Mor to find out more!

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A Day In The Life Of... Careers

A Day in the Life Of R&D Category Lead: Aline Mor

Nestlé is one of the most globally recognised organisation in the world. And one of the most exemplary organisations for Flexible Working. Which is why the Find Your Flex team is excited to be expanding on their roles and how work/life balance is made a priority.

There are many roles within the global confectionery company, in this instance we are happy to be getting the inside scoop from the R&D Category Lead – KITKAT and Healthier Snacks; Aline Mor. Aline sheds some light in her working day and why she enjoys her role so much. She also highlights the importance of planning when maintaining work/life balance. Join us in finding out more from Aline, as it may inspire you to pursue a similar line of work.

What does a working day look like for an R&D Category Lead?

It is a busy and diverse day with many interactions with my team and people in all parts of the world to discuss future innovation opportunities and our live R&D Projects, with delicious product tasting as well.

How do you find a work life balance?

I always try to protect parts of my calendar to make sure I can bring my daughters to school most of the days, have time for lunch and have time for exercise. I also always go to the office by bike, which gives me a great fresh start of the day and a way to decompress at the end of the day before arriving back at home. If working from home, I always start the day with a walk.

Are there opportunities to progress?

There are many opportunities to progress in such a big company as Nestle with so many product categories and different functions in the UK and around the world.

What is the best part about being an R&D Category Lead?

The best part is definitely to work in such a diverse/ inclusive environment and have a multicultural team to lead, develop and coach to deliver new amazing products to delight our consumers and grow our business around the world.

Is there a difficult part to your job?

The most difficult part is to manage my own calendar to ensure I am focused on the right things.

If someone was considering a career in your area of expertise, what advice would you give to them?

Discover what activities can help you to re-energise and have a good work life balance and protect and prioritise them in your calendar.

THANK YOU TO ALINE FOR SHARING HER INSIGHTS AS AN R&D CATEGORY LEAD WITH US!

An amazing take on the working life of an R&D Category Lead. It is clear to anyone reading that Aline loves her job, yet is also steadfast in maintaining a healthy work/life balance. We can all learn a lesson from this, as even when we have access to flexible working, it can mean nothing without our own commitment, ownership and planning. This is an important lesson for us all to keep in mind, once again thank you to Aline Mor for providing this.

If you are curious about other potential career paths, or perhaps want to know what it is like guiding others through their career path, have a read of A Day in the Life Of a Life and Business Coach: Veena Hedges.

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A Day In The Life Of... Equality and Diversity Lifestyle Mental Health

Journey to Success: Differing Cultures, Guard Your Mind & Inspire Others

In recognition Black History Month, the Find Your Flex team wanted to speak with a black business leader. One who might be able to share some insights on what a journey from childhood to employment was like and if they ever faced conscious or subliminal adversity impacted by differing cultures.

But we got so much more than this from Robert Upright: Public Speaker and Founder of Empowered Communicator; a company dedicated to helping others overcome struggles with public speaking and gain confidence.

Robert shares his inspiring and impactful journey from childhood to adulthood. He sheds a light on moments when cultural diversity did and didn’t play a part in his journey. And how how mental health presented some barriers and how he overcame them. And finally how he came to help others overcome their barriers and how helping and inspiring others is the greatest of gifts.

What was it like growing up in London?

You know, it’s interesting. We can only ever inhabit our own skin right? And therefore you have the perspective you have. And it’s only by comparison that you realise things, otherwise you’re just living your life.

I had a very happy childhood, family oriented. My family moved here from West Africa, from Ghana, when I was very little and you only know what you know right?

But definitely, what was interesting was the embracing of the two different cultures. For example; when I was little, my parents never spoke our mother tongue too us. Because they were told it would hinder our progress and our growth.

So back then, that was the recieved wisdom. So therefore, although it was spoken in the house amongst themselves, they would speak English to us.

That was quite an interesting dynamic; that we were from a background that wasn’t from this country, hearing a language. But then that language not being directly spoken to us, and then going into school and elsewhere and speaking English.

Things like your foods which were different and which I retain to this day; a love of the West African foods and a love of the British foods. I think it was having that perspective of seeing different worlds and existing in different worlds I think was a very interesting time.

You mentioned different cultures, in terms of your education did that present any barriers or achievements?

What’s interesting is that there is a very very high premium placed on education, certainly from the West African culture. That’s not to say that there isn’t anywhere else. But I think the mentality that I inherited from my parents was that; there may well be barriers that we’ll face.

And we could see certain barriers growing up; the way people might respond to you. I could see the way they might respond to my parents. But that wasn’t ever anything that they would allow to be used to prevent us from excelling.

I think that was the overriding message; to say that it doesn’t actually matter whatever anybody else does or what anyone else thinks, or thinks of you. It was drilled into us that education was the biggest weapon or tool to fight against any kind of inequality.

And so from that perspective, for my family; it was incredibly important that we were very well educated; that we respected education and we respected study and that was really drilled in from a very early age.

I think being in a society whereby obviously you are identifiably different- obviously there are lots of differences in society, but when you are identifiably different, people can look at you and say; ‘well you’re different to what we’ve seen and what we know’. In such circumstances, there’s potential for people to judge you or pre-judge you, and that’s kind of an unfortunate truth, but it’s a truth non the less.

So you have to quickly demonstrate that you are at least on par and worthy of being taken seriously. Otherwise you risk automatically not being taken seriously, and I think that’s something that was drilled in to me at a very early age:

That you can overcome any direct, indirect, overt or subliminal differences or discrimination shall we say, and education is one of your biggest weapons to do so.

Did you embrace the pressures that came with this: the importance of education and overcoming the cultural obstacles you talked about?

Your life is from a perspective that is obviously your own and that was just the norm, that’s just what we did and what we do. It wasn’t a case of looking and comparing to see ‘oh, we do have this or we don’t have this’, it just is the way it is.

And I think that’s an important point in terms of an attitude, that I think I adopt and one everyone can adopt. One that says:

If this is where you are, then this is where you are. There’s no two ways about it.

If you’re sitting in your front room or your kitchen, there’s absolutely no point in going: ‘Oh I wish I was sitting in Hyde Park right now‘ because you’re not. So the only issue is how are you going to get from there to Hyde Park if that’s where you want to get to.

In terms of a nine-year-old, I probably wouldn’t have articulated it like that. But on reflection now certainly. However, I think as any nine-year-old, all I wanted to do was run around and watch Metal Mickey, Rent a Ghost and things like that! But behind that, I knew I was from a disciplined background, a disciplined household. But that’s just what it was.

When making the transition from education to employment, was there any discrimination from employers?

It’s an interesting one, because if they did it, they did it well enough that I would never know! To be fair, I didn’t get a sense of that and I didn’t feel that on my employment journey. But again, I think that might go down to my attitude. I’m very very pragmatic about certain things and I think that is a very important point to take away.

Because life’s experiences will give you a certain armour, I think that it will either break you or embolden you. To a point where at times you can be oblivious to certain things because it’s simply what you do and you simply get on with it.

The problem is; if you are to notice everything, it can just get too overwhelming. There is this thing in life called habituation isn’t there? Like when there’s a really bad smell in the room, you’ll notice it immediately, but the brain goes; ‘well I can’t be focusing on this all day’ so the smell just blends into the background and you don’t even notice it.

And I think in life it perhaps is one of those things where that because of my upbringing, background and therefore mentality, there’s a certain amount of armour that gives you.

If these things were going on to some extent, I just didn’t notice or it wasn’t something I would focus on. Because it wasn’t necessarily that helpful to do so, it was more helpful to carve out the path I wanted to carve.

What did you do between education and starting your own business?

I worked in the publication industry. I did my degree in psychology, which is quite interesting because around that time in my teens is when I started struggling with agoraphobia and panic attacks. It was quite a difficult period and that went on for many years.

A lot of that will inform much of my own personal experience. Which isn’t necessarily race-related per say, because anybody could struggle with that, but that was just another thing to factor in.

I was very conscious about how I would show up in places. Very conscious, being a black male that there may well be a narrative or a stereotype that wasn’t necessarily that positive, yet that’s out there in society, in the media etc. I was always aware of that from a very early age and felt that wherever I went I had to show up in a way that would combat that narrative.

There is that on your shoulders and that is something I took upon myself. But the problem with being agoraphobic and having panic attacks and anxiety and all of that suddenly coming along is:

How do you still show up that way? At your best and trying to combat a narrative?

So that was an additional kind of pressure, that I think exacerbated things at the time, and on reflection I possibly didn’t have the life experience to be able to cope with that as well as I can do now.

And in my work, where I engage with people who might struggle with things around confidence or how you show up. Because I have an intimate understanding of what they’re going through having lived that for so long. It’s the nuances around that, that you can really pick up and start to help them address their challenges.

What led you to become a Public Speaker, in spite of having phobias and mental health issues that would make this career path difficult?

Interestingly, in the workplace, what I would find is that I was functional and I could get on with things. The panic attacks and so forth, I found that I could manage them well enough that I could function and people wouldn’t really know, I would hide in places etc. But what it did mean is that for a long time I wouldn’t pursue career advancement.

I didn’t want to be in positions whereby I’d have such authority that I would be responsible. Such that, if I had a panic attack, I couldn’t show up and therefore it exacerbates the whole; ‘well you’re not showing up at your best. You’re affirming a narrative that is not very positive‘. And it wasn’t anything about who I am or what I am, it was what I was going through and that was kind of like a silent struggle.

So, that was an interesting thing, for a long time that would be going on. And then that goes into areas around; when/if you are struggling, who do you turn to? Where do you turn? That’s true in society anyway, I think everybody has their own struggles with that regardless of who you are.

There’s just that extra little bit of salt on it whereby certain communities have no space to have those conversations around your mental health. It’s just not the ‘done’ thing. So that was probably quite a bit of a pressure cooker that lead to me avoiding trying to get advancement for quite a while.

But I think the way life goes and the way it unfolds, I started looking into things around self-development, going to seminars and reading more around that subject. I studied psychology, but that was more an academic exercise, as opposed to informing how I lived my life or coped with everything. So that was a really interesting experience, that even though I studied psychology, it wasn’t that that was necessarily the breakthrough thing for me.

How did you transition from that to actually becoming a Public Speaker?

The transition I think, came when I did start to look at things around self-development, around self-empowerment. Ultimately, when you can be in control of who you are; your mind. I have a saying you know that I love, it’s one of my favourites:

Stand Guard at the Gates of Your Mind.”

I’m always saying that because it’s so important. You’ve really got to be aware of what you feed your mind and what you allow to get in. It can really start to shape your opinion of life. What you think shapes your outlook. It’s like the whole garden and the farmer analogy; what you plant, you will grow. Basically, you can’t plant a lemon seed and expect and orange tree to grow.

So realising that, there was an opportunity to go to a training on public speaking. And it was a real decision to make, thinking; ‘well I have this history, I have this background and I know I struggle with this kind of thing.’

But it got to a point whereby, your biggest opportunities and your biggest successes lie on the other side of your personal fears don’t they? And although that might be something people read and think; ‘yeah, yeah’, it’s actually so true. In that, if you remain within your comfort zone and you remain within what you know, all you will ever get is what you know. Something pushed me towards doing that training.

On the day I recall I woke up at about 4 AM for the training I was going to and I woke up in sweats at the thought of going to this thing. And I was looking for every single excuse not to go. But fortunately, I went and was able to get through it, and from there my training continued and I just really became a lot more. And then was able to then transition to who I have become today.

What is your experience of running your own business that helps people overcome some of the same struggles?

Do you know it’s the greatest gift, without sounding sounding sort of “woowoo” about it. But it really is. The thing is everybody has something extraordinary within them and about them. And the biggest shame I think in this life, in this society, is for people who don’t ever get to realise that, or see it or embrace it.

And if you can shine a light on somebody’s gift, so that it reveals it to them, then that moment is one of those incredible, beautiful and most important moments in a person’s life. It’s not that there are violins playing out there or doves flying in the air- it’s just this moment of realisation that somebody who perhaps feels like they can’t, suddenly realises that they can.

Now of course there’s work to do, it’s not a magic wand. But if you don’t believe it, if you don’t believe in you, then how likely is it that anything that you dream of will ever happen?

Once you do believe in you and once you have a kind of road map and some steps, guidance, support and belief. Because there will also be days when you don’t believe in yourself and days when you slip back a bit. So it’s really important to surround yourself with the right people; mentors, friends, your inner circle; who understand that particular journey you’re on.

But it is incredible to do and having known what it’s been like to feel quite lost, out at sea, a little bit in the dark. Now it’s like being able to perform that function of almost as a lighthouse isn’t it? Which really helps to illuminate the environment for others as to what’s possible. And then perhaps give them some tools in order to embrace that and show up in a way that is more confident, more empowered, more impactful.

What’s interesting about self development is, it’s not just about the thing that you think is stopping you, it never is just that. It’s all of the other things that radiate off that. It’s everything about who you are and who you become.

Often at times, what you find is people are existing with a kind of a shield or a front right? You don’t want the world to see you at what your perceive as your weakest. So a lot of the time people may show up as an image of themselves as opposed to as themselves.

One of the things I talk about is being confident and natural. That word natural is so important as it really goes back to; if you can just sit alone and be yourself with yourself, then you can be yourself with other people. That’s the important part of the journey that a lot of times is missed. Often times people look at the external and its not just about the tools; ‘okay do this and say this at this moment. Put up this slide or stand in this way’.

It is really a journey of self-discovery, of self-realization and of self-love really. And recognizing all the warts and the things that have happened have actually happened in order to serve you.

I know that can be a very emotive and for some people may be a triggering statement. So it is not to in any way dismiss or discount anything that has happened, or anything you may have been through. I know there’ll be people who have been through extraordinary traumas and I have worked with people that have been through extraordinarily difficult things.

The thing is, at this moment in time, are those things going to continue to disempower you? Or is there a way that by shifting one’s mind, by embracing who you are and taking those things and using them almost as fuel to empower yourself in whatever direction you wish to go. But to be empowered is the most important thing so that you don’t end up living a life of regret.

What advice would you to someone trying to reach a goal and how to overcome any barriers along the way?

Ultimately I think there is the practical side and then there is the personal and internal side. A lot of times with goals or destinations, people are quite vague about it. And if you were to articulate or tell someone your goal, could they easily repeat it back to you? Because there is that thing about; if you can make something understandable by a 7 or 8 year-old, then it’s clear.

To be clear and concise is very important, because fate, loves clarity. And if you can be clear on what it is that you want, it’s the first step in helping you to reach it. So there is that; be very clear on what it is that you want.

Then it is about milestones, there will be certain milestones that you will need to hit, referring back to the Hyde Park analogy. So for example; you might just say, ‘well just get up and go’ but, have you put your clothes on? Have you showered? Have you brushed your teeth? So they’ll be the steps, and there will be bigger steps and milestones so you need to map those out, so that you can actually see a road map.

By simply putting up a kind of map of your journey, suddenly it allows the mind to rest, and be reassured and it brings a certain element of reality. Because what you’re doing with a dreams is that you’re dreaming and there will be a part of your mind that may fight that dream, particularly if you’re struggling in this moment. So what you need to do is to bridge that gap between your current reality and the dream that you have.

And it’s those practical things that you can do and which is why it’s so important not to miss those steps. Because a lot of the time people will throw them away and think; ‘well what’s the point of writing it down? I’m here, I’m struggling, it’s never going to happen. What’s the point in putting in my milestones?’. And so once you understand the way the way that crafting your future works, then you’re a lot more likely to embrace it and do it.

From the personal side, number one: stand guard at the gates of your mind. Who have you got surrounding you? And when I say who; that could be people, it could be the media that you allow in, the messages. What messages are you allowing into your head and are they ones that support you?

Often times, this is why people go to coaches, or get help from consultants, or do various courses etc. It’s so important because what that does is; it shifts your mind and it shifts your environment. You start to surround yourself with people who perhaps believe in you more than you believe in yourself.

It’s like crabs in a barrel; you be trying to crawl out, but if you’re amongst the wrong people, they will drag you back down. So it really is about auditing your life; who you surround it with- it doesn’t mean you throw them away or anything. But recognise what impact certain people are having on your dreams. Then doing something actively to put yourself in an environment or around people who will genuinely lift you, push you and support you, towards a goal that is now crystal clear with a map to guide you along the way.

Thank you so much Robert for sharing with us your personal journey to a successful career!

We hope our readers find your story as inspiring and uplifting as we did. And perhaps gained some perspective on some of the issues, barriers and achievements you mentioned. If you want to learn more about Robert and what he does or even if you relate to some of the struggles he mentioned and require some help and guidance, you can reach out to him at Empowered Communicators here.

Robert touches upon differing cultures, to read more about this topic take a look our article on whether Culture Change starts in Schools.

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A Day In The Life Of... Careers

A Day in the Life Of Recruitment Marketing Specialist Manager: Annalisa West

Marketing is an amazing sector and requires individuals of both intelligence and creativity. They use these attributes to draw and hold our attention and make us buy into the vision they are depicting. This is why the Find Your Flex team is excited to get the perspective of the amazing Annalisa West; Recruitment Marketing Specialist Manager for St. James’s Place.

We cannot wait to hear all about the day to day working life of such a varied and interesting role and hope you will find it inspiring and beneficial!

What does a working day look like for a Recruitment Marketing Specialist Manager?

My day can range from having meetings with key stakeholders, to creating promotional videos and writing articles for both traditional and social media.

How do you find a work life balance?

I’ve learnt to compartmentalize my life, be extremely organised and have a process for everything to maintain a good work life balance. Since becoming a mum this has become even more crucial because life is busy! Success for me regarding a great work life balance depends on having the right mindset and ensuring I don’t become overwhelmed, I always think ‘process not outcome’, which really helps. Regarding work, I set goals with workable, realistic steps of how I’ll achieve them. I have a clear process every day; I create a daily ‘to do’ list and I use the Eisenhower Matrix to plan my work in order of priority. What really helps is that, since having my first son (who is now 6), I am a homeworker. St. James’s Place are superb at looking after their employee’s welfare in this way and have certainly provided me with unwavering support, which I believe is reciprocated in the work I am able to produce for the company. Every Sunday evening I look at my work diary to plan what’s happening for the week ahead. I do this with my husband, who does the same, so we’re both aware of each other’s work commitments for the week.

In doing this we can then ensure that whatever responsibilities we have to our sons and our home life for the coming week are organised around work commitments. With anytime that’s left I plan when I can exercise and have time alone in my garden, which changes from week to week. Exercising 3-4 times a week and getting in my garden are non-negotiable things for me to do, even if it means fitting them in at six in the morning or in the evening when my children are in bed. I’m a keen gardener and always have been, it’s a creative outlet for me that I love where I can just switch off. I’m a firm believer that in order to bring my best to my work and home life, maintaining a good work life balance, I need to take care of my mental and physical health. Having time to switch off in the garden and exercising regularly definitely supports this.

Are there opportunities to progress?

Yes, St. James’s Place are very supportive of professional development, in fact I go so far as to say it’s actively encouraged, as part of our culture, for everyone to be the best version of themselves. If I’ve ever felt I the need to develop an area of my skills which will enable me to do my role more successfully, I can honestly say training has been fully supported throughout my (almost) 11 years with the company. There is a fantastic programme of internal workshops and training and opportunities to move jobs internally are openly advertised on our intranet for everyone to see. If you work hard at St. James’s Place it does not go unnoticed, it’s a great organisation that feels like a family, despite being a FTSE 100 company, and I’m proud to be a part of it.

I’m also delighted to be an integral part of the marketing team who promote our Academy programme, offering opportunities to people outside of the organisation a chance to change career and progress professionally. It’s a joy to interview people who have joined our Academy programme and hear how we’ve empowered them to begin a new career and it has changed the lives of both themselves and their family! So many people get to a stage in their career where they don’t feel they can progress, and they need a new challenge or a completely new career direction. For them the Academy is a fantastic programme. The programme offers high calibre and driven individuals an exciting chance to begin a career in financial advice.

What is the best part about being Recruitment Marketing Specialist Manager?

As I mentioned, I’m positively changing lives; with the promotional material I create I’m helping to find the next generation of Financial Advisers. This is so important to me in a profession where there’s only (circa) 26 thousand Financial Advisers in the UK and there’s literally millions of people with money to invest, who don’t have a Financial Adviser and would benefit from their guidance. I’m excited by the fact that I’m helping to make a difference to the profession and to help increase the avenues to advice for these investors. I also know, having interviewed many of the people who I’ve helped to attract to join St. James’s Place, that becoming a Financial Adviser is the best decision they’ve ever made and it has changed their lives in numerous ways. There’s so much satisfaction in knowing my role in the team as a marketeer is helping to make a difference to so many people, those who join us and become top-class Financial Advisers and those people who become clients of St. James’s Place and gain, in my opinion, the best financial advice.

Is there a difficult part to your job?

Working with such a diverse group within St. James Place, it can be challenging to meet the production requirements for all the individual people or teams who want some form of marketing material. On occasion for logistical, time, budgetary or even creative reasons it’s not possible to give them precisely what they want and having to say ‘no’ when a piece of work someone wants just isn’t achievable is always tough. It doesn’t happen often and normally at worst we find a workable middle ground, but when it does it becomes a problem for which we always try to find a future solution.

If someone was considering a career in your area of expertise, what advice would you give to them?

If you like storytelling, be that written or visual then, go for it! because you’d love a career in marketing. It’s challenging in a positive way; ascertaining the best way to engage with people, taking their vision (or sometimes just a thought) and turning it into a living breathing product designed to engage people and make them feel a certain way, understand a specific concept or just think about a new subject is very satisfying when it works well. There are often times when frustrations and complications test you along the way, but that makes it all the more fulfilling when your finished product is made public and does its job. It really does make you feel like you have achieved something, and I love it!

Thank you to Annalisa for sharing your insights as a Recruitment Marketing Specialist Manager!

The Find Your Flex team would like to thank Annalisa for highlighting the amazing hallmarks of her role! It’s truly inspiring to gain such a balanced perspective on what working in a senior Marketing role looks like and know that anyone who reads this will know they have the perfect insight into whether this would be a career that they themselves would aim for

There are many different careers out there and if you want to gain some more insights, why not check out A Day in the Life of The Head of UX and Optimisation: Becky Franks?

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A Day In The Life Of... Careers Flexible Working Future of work

A Day in the Life Of a Founder and CEO: Alex Tomchenko

Alex is the Founder and CEO of Glambook; an all-in-one platform created to aid beauty professionals grow their budding businesses. Alex has an extremely positive and forward-thinking outlook on the life of a CEO. He highlights how much time, dedication and hard work it takes to build a thriving business. While also pointing out the need to decompress when you can and leave business at the door and make time for yourself. 

Alex also has some unique views on the meaning of progress and how transferable skills can be used to help build a brand. He also points out the importance of utilizing fresh talent prepared to soak up new ways of doing things and how this can be more beneficial to growing businesses than recruiting based on experience. This is definitely a mindset geared toward the future of working and we are excited to learn more about Alex and his working life as a Founder and CEO.   

What does a working day look like for a Founder & CEO?

I wake up at 7:00am and after a nutritious breakfast I start checking my inbox and messages. We meet with the team at 9:00am to help us align on priorities and set up the tone for the day. Before lunch, I’m focused on monitoring our results and growth and take a few more business meetings. After lunch, I spend time on mapping out business goals and tasks, aligning on workflow and hosting additional meetings. Towards the end of the day, I look at our daily progress and that helps me identify our goals and tasks for the next day. I go to bed at 11:30pm.

How do you find a work life balance?

To be honest, it’s not easy to strike a perfect work and life balance during the growth stage of a startup. What helps is that I work on something that I’m truly passionate about and I do it together with my wife, who is my co-founder. While we don’t have a strict schedule that divides our business and personal lives, we manage to find time for both. Usually, we are busy with work during the day and late evenings are reserved for things not related to business.

Are there opportunities to progress?

Progress is an important part of life. However, progress doesn’t necessarily mean doing something new. Often, it’s finding a new way to do something. At Glambook, we’re doing just that, finding a way to transition the beauty industry into the digital space. I’m a believer that opportunities for progress are always here and they will always be available.

What is the best part about being Founder & CEO?

The best part of my job is to have freedom to create a product the way you envision it. To create a product that will bring value to your users. If you can’t find something that works for you, you can create it. During my 13+ years spearheading a digital marketing agency, I gained valuable experience in promoting and growing other people’s products, so now I am fortunate to have an opportunity to finally use those skills and experience to build and grow my own product.

Is there a difficult part to your job?

Challenges help you have a different perspective, think outside of the box and look for alternatives, which means constant growth and development. I’m not a big fan of formalities – to have a meeting for the sake of having a meeting, or create documents for the sake of having them, so I prefer to focus on things that matter, bring value and make a process more meaningful.

If someone was considering a career in your area of expertise, what advice would you give to them?

You can’t teach an old dog new tricks. This is something I’ve learned the hard way during my time at the digital marketing agency. It’s a much smoother and easier task to bring a beginner up to speed than trying to ask an established expert to re-learn and do things differently. An established professional may already have their own point of view and past experiences that prevent them from seeing a full picture. For someone who is just starting out in a new industry, there’s a much higher chance of being successful. Be curious, goal-oriented and motivated by the project you’re about to kick off. As the saying goes, if you’re trying to do the impossible, do it with people who don’t know that this is impossible.

THANK YOU TO ALEX FOR SHARING HIS INSIGHTS AS A FOUNDER AND CEO WITH US!

These were some amazing and unique insights from Alex, who shows us what it means to have the entrepreneur mindset, having not only the passion to create something unique but also to keep your eye on the future. Alex showcases a forward-thinking mindset, highlighting the fact that experience isn’t everything and if you do have experience, it is important to be flexible in your approach to different aspects of business. A refreshing take on the working life of a Founder and CEO! Alex also made the point of how his skills in marketing were transferable when creating his own product and business, which is something all of our readers should consider. We hope you enjoyed reading all about Alex’s amazing and interesting work life!

For other takes on the working life of a Founder and CEO why not have a read of A Day in the Life Of a Founder and CEO: Alex Bozhin.

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A Day In The Life Of... Careers

A Day in the Life of the Head of UX & Optimisation: Becky Franks

This week Find Your Flex is excited to be delving in to the life of Becky Franks; Head of UX and Optimisation for the Co-Operative Bank. But it doesn’t stop there, Becky is also the lead their Digital Bees colleague network. As a woman who wears many hats for the company and does so splendidly, we are ecstatic to see what Becky’s working day looks like. We hope our readers will find this interesting and perhaps even consider Becky’s path if pursuing a career in the same field!

What does a working day look like for the Head of UX & Optimisation and Lead on Digital Bees?

One of the things I love about my job is the variety of my role. In UX we have 5 teams, UX Design, Research, Service Design, Content and Optimisation. One day I might be in a workshop coming up with ideas for new propositions with the UX team, the next day I could be working with stakeholders outside of the team looking at how we tackle diversity and inclusion across the Bank. Through the Digital Bees I have spoken at events, conferences, to students and the general public to improve their digital skills and confidence. No day is the same.

How do you find a work life balance?

My work life balance is good, as a Digital Leadership team we regularly review how the teams are working and if anyone is working over their hours we will raise this with the individual to find out why. We have always been able to work from home which makes a real difference as you can us your lunch times to sort out things at home or go for a run. I real enjoy the flexibility of being able to work from home.

Are there opportunities to progress?

100%! I have been at the Bank 4.5 years and have been promoted twice. I started as a Manager, moved to Lead and am now a Head of. There are always opportunities for people to progress who work hard and align to our values.

What is the best part about being the Head of UX & Optimisation and Lead on Digital Bees?

I really enjoy Leading my team and the Digital Bees and I love supporting people to progress and get the best out of them. I like bringing people together and tackling any issues as a team. There are some really talented and knowledgeably people in the team and I love learning from them.

Is there a difficult part to your job?

One of the most important parts of my job is to build strong stakeholder relationships. And make sure that the team does the same. Working from home means you have to put extra effort in. And make the effort to call and speak to people to resolve any issues before they escalate. It can also be hard to support so many people, my diary is usually back to back with meetings I sometimes miss out on supporting the team and attending meets as I just don’t have enough hours in the day.

If someone was considering a career in your area of expertise, what advice would you give to them?

Go for it! We have a really mixed team. Some people have degrees others have worked in the Bank and moved into the team and learnt on the job. Everyone has to start somewhere, if you want a role in UX there are lots of online courses. Be proactive, complete courses and do some voluntary work in UX, it looks great on your CV. If people tell me they don’t have time to do that I’d question how much they really want a role in UX! Opportunities are there but you need to work for them – you’re the only person who can change your career.

Thank you to Becky for sharing your insights as the Head of UX & Optimisation and Lead on Digital Bees!

It is inspiring to see someone take on so many responsibilities and also make the time for work life balance! Becky has given a perfect example of how hard work can pay off. And how to go about climbing the ladder of an organisation like the Co-Operative Group. We at Find Your Flex thank Becky Franks for giving us the scoop on what her working day looks like. And what it could look like for you if you wished to pursue the same or similar role!

If you want to find out about the work days of other careers, why not have a read of A Day in the Life Of a Co-Founder and CPO: Jacob Sever?

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Careers Flexible Working Future of work Industry Flexers

Career Flexibility

When it comes to getting what you want from your career, having an attitude of flexibility can help you to take advantage of all the possibilities.

To have Career Flexibility and achieve your goals, you’ll want to set your boundaries. What are the areas where you can’t or won’t compromise? Salary? Location? Hours? Could you be tempted to travel further for more money or to work more hours for a really good role? If you can say ‘nothing would tempt me…’ then you know that you’ve drawn your line in the sand!

How could you achieve your aims by working differently? Often our attitudes to employment are quite rigid. We are limited by what we have done and influenced by our families and friends.

What would life look like beyond PAYE? How do you feel about self-employment? Freelancing? Consultancy? Employing others? If you have concerns, how could you address them? Could you combine self-employment with a part-time or seasonal PAYE role for security? If you worry about finding work, could you work as a freelancer or consultant for someone else?

Could you work two or more different jobs (sometimes known as a portfolio career)? This could broaden your horizons or allow you to experiment safely in a new career direction knowing that the old one is still bringing in money.

Could you job share your previous role or a new one? This could open up a wealth of more senior and interesting roles that aren’t advertised as part time.

Could you develop a hobby or interest into a side hustle? How could that become your main source of income?

In what areas, are you an ‘expert’? Not the world expert, but knowledgeable and experienced in a particular area. Is there something you know how to do that you could teach or train others to do?

Would you retrain to upskill or update your career? Would you retrain in order to change careers completely?

Whatever the job market or economic situation, Career Flexibility is a mindset for personal growth and new opportunities.

Career Coaching and Training to Relaunch Careers

Re-establishing your career after a parental career break or redundancy can be a daunting prospect. You may not be able to return to the job you did before, or your priorities may have changed and you would like to do something different. Whether your career gap is months or years, we are here to help.

The four things we cover:

1. Career Clarity – work out what to do next and how to get there.

2. CV-Writing – refresh or start your CV from scratch ready to market your expertise. We can also help you create a LinkedIn profile for the opportunities you want to attract.

3. Job Search – use your time effectively and efficiently to find the right job for you.

4. Interview Skills – regain confidence using our three step approach for interview success.

We do this through standalone e-learning and blended coaching programmes.

View our career programmes http://bit.ly/careercoachingprogrammes

Book a free career consultation https://bit.ly/careerconsultcp

Get your free guide to discover the best sites for flexible jobs https://bit.ly/flexjobsites

Join our Facebook Group for career break mums: https://www.facebook.com/groups/careerbreakmumsbycoachingpartners

Categories
A Day In The Life Of... Business Career Returners Careers Flexible Working

A Day in the Life Of a Life & Business Coach: Veena Hedges

The most inspiring roles are ones that help people bring their dreams to fruition. The primary goal of a Life & Business Coach is to provide people with the tools and support to help them achieve their goals. But what does a working day of a Life and Business Coach look like?

We are excited to hear from the amazing Veena Hedges. Veena has had many experiences already throughout her career journey; from starring in shows such as Grange Hill, Children’s Ward and the Bill, to earning a degree in business management and starting and running two companies in global recruitment and property respectively.

These are just some of the professional accomplishments in Veena’s life and now she helps others achieve their goals as a Life and Business Coach. We at Find Your Flex could not think of anyone better equipped!

What does a working day look like for a Life & Business Coach?

It looks the way I want it to look. First comes looking after me, then comes looking after my clients and in-between comes looking after the family.

How do you find a work life balance?

Through taking the time to sit with a coach and primarily working out what’s most important to me. Then, with their support, making a plan to find time and space to fit everything in, making sure the important bits are put in first.

Are there opportunities to progress?

Always! Everything is changing all the time, anything that sits still grows mold, even water. As humans our challenge is to keep embracing change, be in front of the curve, be open to new exciting opportunities everywhere. In work, in travel, in cuisine, in relationships, in entertainment, in books, in fashion etc. Every time we learn something new, we are progressing. Self development is the meaning of being born human, why we are put on this earth.

What is the best part about being Life & Business Coach?

To support and encourage a person’s metamorphosis from a caterpillar to butterfly. It inspires me, gives me a sense of wonderment and purpose.

Is there a difficult part to your job?

I’m not so great at selling myself.

If someone was considering a career in your area of expertise, what advice would you give to them?

I would ask them if they like helping people and if they’re able to support someone make their own decisions without any judgment, advice or own ideas into the mix. I would advise them to get a proper qualification from The Coaching Academy which is the accredited body.

THANK YOU TO VEENA FOR SHARING HER INSIGHTS AS A LIFE & BUSINESS COACH!

Veena has really shined a light on not only the ins and outs of being a Life and Business Coach, but the importance of work-life balance. Veena’s views on how life must come first and how work needs to be prioritised is truly inspiring. This exactly what we at Find Your Flex want everyone to recognise. We thank Veena for this amazing piece that will inspire our readers!

To learn more about Veena’s journey and if you yourself feel you would benefit from her expertise, check out her website here.

If you want to find out about the work days of other careers, why not have a read of A Day in the Life Of a Co-Founder and CPO: Jacob Sever?

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