The first instalment in my recollections charting my career journey of the last 20+ years.
It is only now with all the talk about generation x, y and z that I realise I am just a typical product of my generation. The 80’s, my teenage years were characterised with success stories of women ‘breaking through’ into business, Anita Roddick with the Body Shop, Debbie Moore, founder of the Pineapple Dance Studios and Sophie Mirman of The Sock Shop. I remember keeping an article about Anita I found in the newspaper magazine, the story of her traipsing into her bank, child in pushchair, (while her husband travelled the world) asking for a loan to set up her new business. That was it, I thought, there are no limitations placed on a woman once she becomes a mother, only those she puts on herself. I liked her approach, the disregard for convention and rules, triumphing in the face of gender stereotypes and gentlemen’s clubs.
I knew I wanted to be a mother, but I also knew that the fire I got in my stomach when I read about the Branson’s of this world meant I would be seeking to combine the world of work with domestic duties.
It was like a problem needing to be solved, how to combine the two. I lapped up all the articles I read about women breaking the glass ceiling, about equality legislation, and about how the tide was changing. I really felt as if I was on the periphery of great opportunities that would be there for my generation.
Hence my choice to study Business at University was no surprise, I was interested in entrepreneurs, the boom generation all around me.
The question of how I would combine a full-time job with being a mother still niggled away at me though, as I could see a traditionally corporate role with the long hours not being a good fit. I remember coming across some talk tapes (yes, on cassette!) – my first experience of motivational speaking, that were delivered by a woman. While her messages were inspirational and impactful, it was the first seed that was planted suggesting that THIS may be a good career path. I knew I could present, and the idea of not working every day, but when I was working, doing something amazing that would command high fees – that would fit with my aim of combining a family with work.
Satisfied with this potential solution to my problem, I kept on with my studies, and waited for an opportunity to present itself…
I knew I wanted to have my cake and eat it.