Inspirational women recall their career lightbulb moment

06 March 2020 -

Inspirational women recall their career lightbulb momentIn honour of International Women’s Day, read stories and get inspired to be the best you can be

CMI Insights

For this year’s International Women’s Day (IWD) we wanted to find not only women who challenged stereotypes over their career, but also those women who have overcome the stereotypes and landed their dream job. We asked them to tell us the moment they knew they were in exactly the right place at the right time.

Julia Austin, founder of Tyne Bank Brewery

At an early age I was always interested in science and how things worked so Chemical Engineering was a great fit. Before I started Tyne Bank Brewery, I worked in a variety of industries from ceramic pigments, to car paint and forest chemicals. Having grown up in the Midlands, the smell of a brewery was never far away - so in 2005, when my love of travelling let me to explore the breweries and taprooms of Vancouver and Alaska, the idea to open my own brewery started to form.

My lightbulb came when studying for my A levels: I knew I loved science and building and fixing things, thanks to some wonderful projects my dad involved me in. I’m sure not every child donates their swing and their weekend to replace a Vauxhall Viva engine! So, my A level choice was pretty straight forward, Maths, Chemistry and Physics but I had no clue on a career path until a visit from a Newcastle Chemical Engineering Lecturer Dr Backhurst. His talk opened my eyes to this fantastic versatile career and the following year, I enrolled on the Masters Course at Newcastle and have never looked back.

Angela Noon, CFO and executive director, Siemens

I noticed very early on that I could see things that other people couldn't see - I have a very good eye for what needs to be done, and I can clearly identify where processes are broken. When I was at that early stage of 18 or 19 years old, I knew that working in the back office wasn’t what I was supposed to be doing. I could do more.

I couldn’t articulate it at the time, but I knew that my strength and passion was driving change and making it happen. But most of all, in the early stages of my 20’s I knew I wanted to lead. I wasn't very good in the passenger seat.. Coupled with that, the minute I got a large responsibility, when I started to manage my first big team, my first problem to solve, that was my ‘fist in the air’ moment.

You’ve probably heard about things like imposter syndrome. In all honesty, I still find that I sometimes question myself as to whether I can do something and have that little seed of doubt in my mind. But then, three months later, I’ve got myself to the point where I realise I can do it – and better still, sometimes, it’s that not been as challenging as I thought!

Nicky Newton, Business Development Manager, EPS, Fujitsu UK

As I have found some of the best problem-solving ideas have evolved when we are encouraged to have fun, I would encourage everyone to be inquisitive and mischievous. What’s more, whilst it is important to be inspired by other people, the key to this is to try and not be like them. The beauty of humans is that we are all unique, so be genuine and true to yourself.

Lastly, you will get overwhelmed, you will have confidence issues and a lack of self-belief, and you will make mistakes. Don’t be harsh on yourself when this happens. No one is perfect and these imperfections have an equal importance in shaping who you are and your career.

Samantha Rutter, CEO of Open Study College

I know first-hand, how hard it is to make a career choice in your late teens that will dictate your future. It wasn’t that straightforward for me and that’s why together with my father, Mark Rutter, we created Open Study College to give people those second, third or fourth chances to do something they love.

I started out as co-founder of the business and became CEO in 2018, which provided its own challenges in what is still a heavily male-dominated industry. I often faced preconceptions due to my age and gender, assuming that the Sam referred to was male. And I will admit that walking into a meeting with men a lot older than me and years more experience used to be intimidating!

However, being hugely passionate about giving people opportunities through education, alongside hard work, determination and growth of the business, I have been able to channel that into forging strong stakeholder relationships that now set me apart from my age and gender. I now encourage my team, as well as our students, to go out of their comfort zone with the confidence and passion they need to achieve their goals.

Feeling inspired? Use that energy to update your CV and apply for that job you can’t stop checking out on LinkedIn – our Career Development Centre has everything you need to move onwards and upwards.

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