All posts tagged: success is personal

Success is Personal: Gemma Carver

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We continue our “success is personal” blog series with some of our favorite people to learn more about their motivation and how they think to support diversity in the workspace.
This week we spoke to Gemma Carver – you can find her at @GempireRules.

What do you do & for who  – in the digital / transformation space?

I am a #Digital and #Innovation Director at Pentland Brands (owns Speedo, ellesse, Berghaus, Canterbury and many more Brands).

What’s your personal definition of success  – and what does that look like for you day to day?

The word #success is subjective, fleeting and ephemeral and a word that should be carried lightly. But since you ask, it is hard for me to talk about success at the level of a day. In both my personal and professional life I look at success over the long term. Are my children growing physically and emotionally? Are they mostly happy and are they learning and enjoying it? Am I connected with them inspite of my busy job? At work I ask are we further ahead this year than at the same point a year ago? Are we moving towards or away from our vision? Have we built on success and failure? Are we better understood and are we making a valuable contribution to thinking and decisions in the business. When I can answer mostly yes to these questions, then I feel I am doing something that might make a difference at home and at work. 

Is there a specific role model, mentor/mentors or experience that prompted you to shape this definition?

There are three big influences in my life:

First, studying English, German and Spanish literature for four years which gave me time to think and shape my world view.

Second, my husband who is the wisest person I know and with whom I have debated the Big Questions for hours and hours.

And third, working with data scientists who taught me how to think about data and statistics. Though it hasn’t stopped me making non-data driven decisions which I find interesting.

What’s the project or achievement that you have been involved in, of which you are most proud – (and does it speak to your personal version of success)?

I am proudest of my role as a leader in a large change project in an advertising business that positively changed the culture to enable people to do great work.

Finally – do you have any practical ‘culture hacks’ you can suggest to individuals on how they can encourage more diversity and inclusion in organisations – to support different approaches to personal success?

To encourage #diversity and inclusion in organisations, it is my belief that we need to explore how we show up as individuals, how groups interact with each other and how we can create systems that support inclusion.  For many organisations, this journey needs to start with understanding how things are now, as this is the catalyst for change. So my ‘hack’ would be to look for ways to illuminate and discover the current depth of inclusion.

Nina LovelaceSuccess is Personal: Gemma Carver
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Success is Personal: Carrie Birmingham

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10 Digital Ladies is starting a new irregular blog series where we quiz some of our favourite people about what motivates them, and how diversity can be supported in the workplace. This week we spoke to 10 Digital Ladies associate Carrie Birmingham – you can find her at @CarriebIrm.

What do you do & for who  – in the digital / transformation space?

I run a consultancy that specialises in resolving complex and messy problems with clients and work with lots of diverse and amazing people. (https://carrieconsult.co.uk/)

What’s your personal definition of success  – and what does that look like for you day to day?

I have a passion for creating workplaces where people can do great work and I love supporting clients to fix problems that are preventing this. My definition of success is doing this work, in a way that supports my wellbeing so combined with oodles of dog walks, swimming, camping, and cooking with my hubby.

Is there a specific role model, mentor/mentors or experience that prompted you to shape this definition?

This definition has been shaped by my Masters in Organisation & People development, 10 years as a HR Director and development with wise and kind teachers that encouraged / forced (choose your verb!) me to look deeply at myself.

What’s the project or achievement that you have been involved in, of which you are most proud – (and does it speak to your personal version of success)?

I am proudest of my role as a leader in a large change project in an Advertising business that positively changed the culture to enable people to do great work.

Finally – do you have any practical ‘culture hacks’ you can suggest to individuals on how they can encourage more diversity and inclusion in organisations – to support different approaches to personal success?

To encourage diversity and inclusion in organisations, it is my belief that we need to explore how we show up as individuals, how groups interact with each other and how we can create systems that support inclusion.  For many organisations, this journey needs to start with understanding how things are now, as this is the catalyst for change. So my ‘hack’ would be to look for ways to illuminate and discover the current depth of inclusion.

Nina LovelaceSuccess is Personal: Carrie Birmingham
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10 Things We Learned About Building a Healthy Company Board

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Although it needs to happen at a greater scale, women are increasingly creating or joining company boards, whether they are founders building their own startup boards, or executives or non-executives joining established businesses. Little debate, however, focuses on how women or indeed men can prepare themselves to build and lead, or join and contribute, to an effective board that both helps drive a business and creates a challenging, fulfilling experience for its directors. The latest 10 Digital Ladies event tackled this subject and more in ‘Healthy boards for healthy directors; Creating the perfect company board for you’ on November 8th 2018. This event was hosted by Nina Lovelace, cofounder of 10 Digital Ladies, with the panel discussion being led by our Inspiring Board Member Award winner Celia Francis.

Celia is a proven pioneer with over two decades of experience leading innovative emerging technology companies. She has extensive experience working across strategy, investment, product development and marketing, and is now setting the direction for Rated People, an innovative online marketplace connecting trusted tradespeople to homeowners. Celia was joined by executive board coach and HR expert Carrie Birmingham.

10 Digital Ladies and the expert panel tried to uncover the issues in this session and here are ten things that we learned. A big thanks to both Celia and Carrie for their honest and constructive advice.
  1. Boards can look very different within organisations of different sizes. Startups might not call them boards, but they are people that come together to make the strategic decisions to run a business. More rigour is required for more established businesses, however. Celia explains, ’Boards are ultimately responsible to the investors and shareholders and are there to also offer governance and strategy.’
  1. To run an effective board, it’s important to spend time focusing on the important topics and not getting caught up in the little things. Bikeshedding, as it’s known, is spending disproportionate time and energy spent over an insignificant or unimportant detail of a larger concern. Carrie says, ‘Board agendas often try to tackle lots of things in one meeting, Be rigorous about trying to tackle too much in a small space of time.’
  1. For a board meeting to be effective it’s important to have certain recurring topics and review what is driving the business results. Celia says, ‘We cover topics such as the CEO report, CFO report and finance review including budgets and KPIs.’ The best boards often do pre-meeting prep to ensure time is maximised for quality decision making.
  1. A good preparation for board life to to get invited to attend a board meeting as an expertise in your field or department, to present on a topic or project. However, it’s important to understand what is expected from you before you go in. Carrie suggests, ’It’s important to talk to someone who has experience in presenting to the board. Make sure you are prepared, get good at presenting your ideas quickly and prepare yourself for challenging questions.’
  1. Having the right skills and vision are both important to cementing your seat on a board. Carrie says, ‘Ensure you have functional expertise and develop the skills to have conversations in that environment.” She also adds, “Also, what is it that you want to achieve? Have a purpose. Getting on the boards, is not the means to an end.”
  1. You also need to be able to positively challenge others, if you are to achieve either executive or non-executive positions. Boards want someone to ask challenging questions to help them make better decisions. You also need to be able to think strategically, not getting drawn to solving the operational problems of the business, says Celia. You need to be able to challenge and be open to challenge.
  1. Joining charity boards as non-execs or trustees can be good training ground for executive or non-exec board life. For corporate boards you are still expected to have deep areas of knowledge and expertise at running departments and managing teams, the panellists agreed. There is no shortcut.
  1. However, if you want to become a board member don’t be afraid to let people know. Own your career trajectory. Celia adds, “Let everyone know what it is you want, and have the skill set and experience to back it up.”
  1. Who to tell, however? Networking plays an important role in securing a role on the board. Celia says “You need to be friends with and network with venture capitalists – they have access to board roles.” It’s also important to have a strong network of peers you trust around you when you are running a board, to let off steam with.
  1. There is evidence that more boards want women on them as executive or non-executives, but can struggle to find women to take up those roles. Celia and her immediate peer network get regular calls to join new boards but often have to turn them down due to lack of time. Perhaps VCs and other headhunters aren’t aware of the full network of women able to take up these roles or where to find them?

We’d also like to say a special thank you to Claire Davenport, CEO of Hello Fresh, for her excellent expertise and interaction during the event.

We hope that helps if you missed this illuminating event! To summarise our learning, to secure a position on a board it’s important to have the right specialist skills, target the right level of board for your abilities, be able to challenge others constructively, do it for the right reasons – and have a strong network to access the opportunities in the first place. What’s stopping you!

The event was kindly hosted at the amazing Rated People offices in Blackfriars and supported by the brilliant people from Bright Innovation, 10 Digital Ladies’ fabulous marketing partners. It was a great event, we’d like to thank the panellist and everyone who attended, and we can’t wait for the next event on 22 November on Managing Work/Life Blend, sign up now.

Remember, if you have any thoughts on Healthy boards for healthy directors and would like to share them with us please comment below or join us on Twitter or Instagram. As always, we encourage our community to offer ideas for our next 10 Digital Ladies book! If you still haven’t got your copy of our first book, Career Hacks, you can register for a copy here: http://bit.ly/10DLbook.

Nina Lovelace10 Things We Learned About Building a Healthy Company Board
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