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International Women’s Day: the importance of my ‘non-negotiables’

Category: testimonial, Gender Pay Gap, Gender Focus, gender diversity, inspirational women, technology, Capita, Business Services, Gender Balance, Staff Testimonial, inspirational, International Women's Day 2020, solutions

Gender Focus.

To mark International Women’s Day, my colleagues @CapitaPlc interviewed me to find out about my career journey, the traits I think great leaders possess, and how I support other women in the workplace.

Why is International Women’s Day important to you?

International Women’s Day provides the opportunity for women to get involved in things they maybe wouldn’t do otherwise. For example, I’m a huge fan of Parkrun and there’s a great campaign this year linked to #IWD2020 to encourage more women to take part and gain massive proven benefits to their health and well-being.

What do you love about your job?

I just love the variety it brings – every day for me is totally different and often unknown until I switch on at 7:30am each morning! I get to meet so many different people and am constantly learning and experiencing new and different things. I also love challenging and motivating others to get the best out of themselves. 

Did your career plan out how you thought it would? 

To be honest, I’ve never really had a very clear long-term career direction – this used to bother me but more recently I’ve realised that’s okay. To simply look for the next role to be something which will grow, challenge and reward me is fine! I’ve just taken each new opportunity as it comes along – and luckily for me pretty much always at the right time. 

What are some traits you think great leaders possess?

The key traits for me are: 

  • Honesty and openness: Sharing what’s happening and why as much as possible to provide context for my teams is important. I always give constructive feedback – it’s the only way to learn and develop.
  • Empowerment and support: I try to put myself in my team’s shoes every day. I want to empower them to get on as much as possible to make their own decisions but be there to support as much as required. No one likes a manager who sits on top of them all the time!

What piece of advice would you give your younger self?

Be respectful of hierarchy but don’t be afraid of it – everyone’s just human!  

What’s your passion outside of work?

Anything involving travel or the outdoors – running, cycling, hiking, skiing – I’ve climbed Mount Kilimanjaro twice (twenty years apart), trekked to Everest Base Camp and the Inca Trail and on countless other adventures! I’m also a die-hard Middlesbrough football club supporter and have followed them all over Europe – we’ve had some good days (and some bad ones!) 

 You sound busy! How do you organise your time?

Rigidly! I’m running 8 marathons in 2020 and cycling from Lands’ End to John O Groats in July so my entire life is governed by either a busy work schedule or detailed run / bike / strength training schedule!

In your view, what are the most positive impacts to business of gender balance?

I think men and women each have different points of view and different ways of looking at things – being able to consider both when making decisions about pretty anything is key to making the best decision. Pretty much anything we’re doing will be impacting 50% men and 50% women.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever had?

Surround yourself with great people to be successful – don’t be threatened by them! 

What action do you take to support other women in the workplace?

I try to be as active and engaging as I can be in the various initiatives we have running and always try to attend the events organised.

I’m a mentor for a couple of women in the organisation and always seek to support on an informal basis where I can. 

Happily, it doesn’t happen very often but I’d always speak up on behalf of myself or others if I felt someone had crossed a line. 

This isn’t specific to only women but I’m a fan of the ‘non-negotiables’ – having slots in your diary for things precious to you which your job should never take priority over. For me, now that my kids are grown up, it's my Friday boxing session. But for other people it’s school plays or open evenings. I’d honour these for all my team.

Sarah Towers

Sarah Towers

Sector Director at Capita Technology Solutions

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