Do you have the right skills once you’ve been promoted?

I had a bit of a revelation this week…

Much to my dismay I didn’t get a job that I really wanted but in my heart of hearts I knew I wouldn’t get it, even though they said they liked me, for 2 reasons:

  1. They kept me hanging on for over 2 weeks to make their decision
  2. I admitted in the interview that doing a hard sell wasn’t my thing.  I don’t mind approaching individuals if we had something tangible to talk to them about but I don’t feel comfortable walking the corridors drumming up new business and “cold calling”

Bear in mind that this was for a client services role and not a sales/ new business role.  And I’ve done well in my career, developing my teams and increasing revenue through existing projects; hence why I have been promoted.  But the hiccup seems to appear at the Group Account Director level when you are expected to sell your services to new divisions of your client’s business.

So therein lies the rub…you are promoted to a new level because of your historic successes but there is not the support or training in your new role to ensure your future success.  For me personally this would be around sales techniques but for others it could be for e.g. around team management, technology, financial forecasting or business strategy.

Admittedly in my previous role I probably should have asked for training but to be honest it never occurred to me (call me daft).  It was only once I had my most recent interview feedback and also had a coffee with Jo Wright @ Phoenix Training & Coaching who gave me some invaluable insight into approaching businesses, that it dawned on me.

But why do companies fail to give you the support?  Do they presume you will naturally be good or at least learn as you go along or do they simply not recognise that an individual could do with support to succeed whatever their level within a company?  I acknowledge they have finite training resources but from my experience this is usually spent on more junior members of the team and not mid-senior management who are the driving force of the business.

Don’t get me wrong; I’m not bitter about losing out on the job but it’s made me realize that I need to:

1) Reframe my thinking from “sales” to “nuturing relationships” and “solving problems”. I’m know I’m good at the last 2 but at the word sales; I freeze

2) Swot up on good new business techniques to futureproof myself

3) Darn well ask if I need additional training and support in a role

I’d love to hear of your experiences and what you think…..


With age comes acceptance, knowledge and a certain mellowness

… don’t leave me sitting on the sidelines!

I had my 30 year school reunion last week. My arm was twisted by a friend – the only one I regularly keep in touch with and, as she was coming down from Cumbria and she needed a bed for the night, I couldn’t really refuse. However it was with trepidation that I entered the wine bar partly because the last one I went to well over 10 years ago was so hideous.

And you know what it was actually quite a pleasant experience. I’m sure fueled by too much rose, adrenaline and nerves. I looked around the room and everyone looked the same although weirdly a lot taller than I remembered (I was always a titch). As I stood back and observed, people mingled and then resumed the cliques we had had back at school. We were and are a right mixture of personalities and professions (& I include full time mums in this) but those 7 formative years of boarding school have given us an underlying lifetime bond. If I think back to the previous one we were all in our early 30s paving out careers, families and a place in society and had something to prove which made the event, for me, wholly uncomfortable. This time round there was a much greater acceptance of who we are giving a far more relaxed a day enjoyable evening.

I think the same thing applies to our careers…

In our 20s and 30s we want to get noticed and we strive and stick our elbows out to get there. We may not have all the experience but we strut and talk the talk to get what we want perhaps to the detriment of others and putting those solid work foundations in place. Fast forward to women and men in their late 40s who have had the ups and downs of a career but can offer knowledge, transferable skills, insight and maturity in making business decisions.  We might not be the trendy bright things of today (although we were!) but we shouldn’t be overlooked at work. We are the voice of reason.  We still want to learn and progress and be excited in the jobs that we do, it’s just that we may not look particularly hip and trendy.  The young can learn from our experiences whilst we can learn from theirs and discover their world of what’s hot and what’s not, emerging trends and technologies whilst we can help shape a great future for them and the businesses we work for.

Go on, give us 40 somethings a go.

I’m switching my focus….

I’m having a week off job-hunting this week.  I need to draw breath and focus on other stuff. It can be soul destroying as you send off your application full of hope and then it seems to get lost in the ether never to be found again. I wish that companies would send out a standard response saying if you don’t here back from them in a certain period of time then it’s a thanks but no thanks. Just to manage my expectations; that’s all.

In an ideal world l’m trying to find a part-time or flexible role so I can focus on other parts of my life but again these seem so few and far between, especially at my level. There seems to be plenty in the press about the rise of flexible working and job sharing but I ain’t seeing much in my sector even though I’ve signed up to Capability Jane, Timewise and Ten2Two! You never know, something might be around just around the corner. However on a positive note this leads me on to this week’s topic of volunteering…

I’ve started volunteering for a local charity for the elderly, CHEER and have the greatest pleasure in visiting Valerie once a week.  A very bright, articulate lady who lives in Claygate.  I so enjoy my visits as she tells me about the history of the area –  I had no idea that the America Air Force was stationed in Bushey Park during the war – and we seem to cover every topic under the sun so there’s always a good debate to be had.  Valerie has also had an idea on my social enterprise project which I’m developing (more about that when it’s further down the line) and I’m sure I will be picking her brains further! We chat alot about how she is getting old and the fear and anxiety which sits alongside ageing.  As Valerie so succinctly puts it you spend your whole life working towards something; university, work, marriage, children, retirement and then what…death?  It must be the strangest feeling not having a focus in life and the loneliness that comes with it too.

From the elderly to the young; I’m also hoping to do a few hours a week of PR & marketing for The Flying Seagull Project which I mentioned in a previous post. They are a troupe of clowns, magicians, circus performers and musicians taking smiles to those in need giving children some precious time to be children. They’ve got some great fundraising events lined up and no doubt I will be thrown into the deep end but it’s for a great cause. BTW they also organise the most amazing kids parties so if you are thinking of entertainment, do get in touch as all the profit goes straight to the charity.

So you see where’s the time for work?  I’m sure I’ll be able to fit it in somehow although I am relishing the shift of focus in my life!


A working mum’s dilemma

Here I am again, facing the dilemma that so many working mums have…taking a step back (or maybe sideways move) from my career path to have greater flexibility with work and to be able to spend more time with my husband and daughter.

I don’t begrudge it and I know it’s the right thing to do but I have ambition coursing through my veins and its time I quelled it.  Or should I? 

I admit I’m never going to be a Helena Morrissey (the thought of 9 children and her punishing schedule bring tears to my eyes ) but as I implied in my previous post on a curvy career, I flourish when learning new skills and taking on new challenges. My work very much defines who I am. 

However I need to take stock; as a friend said to me I’m never going to look back on my life and take satisfaction in the amount of hours I worked.  Most likely I’ll wish I’d spent more time with my husband and daughter. Plus I do believe if both partners are working full time; something has to give. We can’t have it all. Well we can if we can afford the live-in housekeeper, chef, roster of nannies and our lives are timetabled up to the hilt.  But where’s the fun in that and why have children?  (sorry my 20s Milly Tant is coming out) And if you read about some of the most successful business women who work full time, invariably their partner is the one who can offer greater flexibility in their work. Again back to Helena whose husband is the lead parent.

Also, as I get swept up into working life I have to remind myself how much I wanted a child and I have to make the most of the hugs and cuddles before it’s not cool to have PDAs with your mum.

However I can’t complain I’ve had a great few months working full time at Spark at The Telegraph.  A lovely bunch of people and I now know my Double MPUs from my leaderboards, exit puffs and content blasts, tags, trackers and sticky branding and in return I hope I’ve managed to pass on some of my content marketing wisdom.

So now it’s back to the drawing board and it’s at this point I have to praise my hubby, being the font of all knowledge and wisdom.  He so rightly says that I can channel my energies into other things so work doesn’t have to be quite so important to me.  And I think that’s true whatever stage you’re at in your career. I can gain personal satisfaction from finally having the time to do some voluntary work visiting the elderly – and maybe I will enrol for that pottery course and pour my energies into moulding a lump of clay.

If there’s anybody out there who needs some content and PR support – let me know. I’m free!

If you don’t ask….you’ll never know

I’ve had a couple of instances this week that people have brazenly asked me for something which I wasn’t expecting.

The 1st ….I’ve had a wonderful girl helping out with the odd day here and there with childcare over the summer holidays. A bright, intelligent girl heading off to uni this September.  I had to cancel one of her days working for me.  At first she said fine and then a few hours later she asked for more money for the other day.  Needless to say at 1st I was abit miffed but in the end we agreed a higher rate.  After all she’d done a great job;  looked after 2 6 year olds running havoc on a previous occasion and had excelled in her A levels. But the interesting thing was when we were chatting she mentioned that she hoped that I wasn’t upset she’d asked for more money but she’d just read an article about women less likely to ask for more money at work than men. So she thought she’d give it a whirl.  Well you can’t argue with that and I was impressed by her honesty.  If you don’t ask…

Secondly – the doorbell rang yesterday with 2 strangers standing outside.  It turns out that they spent a very happy 5 years living in our house over 20 years ago and haven’t been back to the area since.  The husband didn’t want to impose but his wife persuaded him to ring the bell.  And I’m so happy that they did.  It was so lovely to hear more about the house – how it was when they lived here, the history of it and how our local area has changed since. We welcomed them in and they reminisced as they went from room to room.  A short but sweet experience which of course ended up with us all having a photo outside the front day. For me it’s these little things that make me and made them happy.

I think we should all take heart in the above 2 examples.  Sometimes it may seem like a daunting task to ask for more money, flexible working hours or be open that you don’t understand how a process or product at work.  But if you don’t ask you don’t get and there’s nothing worse than rueing day you never did.

So what have I asked for this week?…An extension to my contract and if I can leave work slightly earlier on a Friday and that’s alongside my daily questioning of “How do I do that”?  Not sure if either will happen but at least I’ve asked!