Talking Point

Opportunity and Authenticity

A few weeks ago I was invited to a very influential women’s networking group.  I had been asked by the Cabinet Office to talk, along with Catharine Seddon, about having a Non-Executive Directorship (NED) through the Public Appointments System.

Our audience was made up of highly experience women, all with years of executive experience in large media, advertising and multi-national companies.  Many of them had NED roles, all of them were interested in exploring more opportunities.  It was a powerhouse of talent, insight and opportunity.

Catharine spoke eloquently about the process of applying for a Public Appointment, the role and its responsibilities, especially in relation to Nolan’s Seven Principles of Public Life.

I spoke about my personal experience of being appointed, how the process was very different – but I had worked hard to build my experience outside of my day job, as a school governor, as a charity trustee and on the national board of my chartered institute.  Two years later, my confidence has grown in the role and I am starting to think of expanding my portfolio.  My key message to this fantastic group, was be authentic, not try to fit the mould, to be honest and to be themselves.

If you are considering applying for a role at an organisation where no one looks like you – reframe that as a positive, the organisation may be desperate to have someone like you.  I was substantially younger than my board colleagues when I joined (the demographic has changed somewhat now) and  I was most definitely the only person who needed to delay the start due to maternity leave.

I am honest and I hope kind with it.  I am proud to be different and I am proud of my contribution.  I long to see more women, especially those from non-traditional (finance, corporate) on boards;  creative people approach problem solving in a very different way.  My background is different, my experiences, professional and person, bring another dimension.

Please think about it, there are so many opportunities out there.

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