Tag Archives: Achievement

Wildlife documentaries director Anne Sommerfield

Anne in Kerry

Anne Sommerfield is an award-winning freelance film director and producer behind Meerkat Manor (BBC and Animal Planet), Animals in Love (BBC) and other wildlife documentaries. Her latest series, The Great Barrier Reef with David Attenborough, will be aired soon on BBC1.

I met Anne in 2014, when she produced the Ladies Who Impress film Maybe I’m Crazy But...This time I interviewed her about her own story and the latest series with David Attenborough.

How does one end up filming a wildlife documentary with David Attenborough?

It definitely helps to have an almost unhealthy obsession with wildlife!  Atlantic Productions, who developed the idea for the series along with David Attenborough and the BBC, approached me and asked if I’d be interested in taking on the project. It was not a difficult decision to make.  

Is it a dream job?

For me, it is the very definition of the dream job, because I’ve wanted to work with David [Attenborough] for well over a decade. His films inspired me to step into the world of storytelling in the first place. Of course, that’s not to say my job is a walk in the park – no creative endeavor ever is..!

How did you become interested in wildlife? 

I have always been fascinated by wildlife. In fact, my parents take great pleasure in whipping out old family photos of me as a child, always posing with animals. There is one particular favourite shot of me, dressed in hilarious 80’s attire, trying to creep closer to a goat…The goat whisperAt secondary school I loved biology, and once I began studying zoology in university I was totally hooked. In the current climate of the endless horrific news stories and reality TV overload there’s something about sharing humane stories. Natural history is truly worth appreciating. Wildlife TV is the equivalent of yoga: it’s good for the soul.

Is freelancing difficult or you would not imagine working any other way?

It was a challenge to begin with, not knowing if your luck will run out or if the calls for jobs will keep coming but now I love it. It gives me creative freedom. 

With the rising tuition fees, do you imagine you would still study biology or not? What would you advise ‘A’ level students in terms of choosing what to study at university?

Yes, I would definitely study biology again. It’s not an essential qualification for getting into wildlife TV, but it’s about passion. My advice would be to find whatever you are really passionate about and go with that. The people who succeed in this business are not necessarily the most talented filmmakers, but they are the most passionate ones and the most determined to tell the stories they love.

I think it’s worth knowing that “talent” can be cultivated.  You can learn on the job and hone certain skills, but you absolutely cannot fake real passion, and there is no substitute for it.

What is your greatest achievement?

Working for the BBC is always a privilege, and the current project with David Attenborough is truly an honor. I’m still pinching myself. But I am most proud of the first film I had ever directed, There’s a Rhino in my House. It sounds mad, but it is a beautiful story about a family in Zimbabwe, who fought to protect the endangered rhinos. The film helped to raise awareness of the conservation issues in Zimbabwe, and we even raised some money for the family’s conservation project. 

What are you good at?

It’s a terrible question to ask an Irish person! I’m good at sniffing out a story and realising the emotional potential of a film. I tend to put my heart and soul into every film I make and I think that helps. 

What is your weakness?

Perfectionism can be a problem for me… I tend to labour for far too long over scripts and sometimes I wish I moved on quicker and came back to the polishing part of the process later. 

What would you advise your 15-year-old self?

Be nobody else but yourself. Not everyone will get it. That’s ok. Mean people are really sad people in disguise. Read more. Read everything. But whatever your read, read Oscar Wilde.  Most importantly, if you really want to be a goat whisperer, be a frickin’ goat whisperer!

If you could do anything, knowing that you would not fail, what would it be?

I’m guessing bank thief is not the sort of answer you’re looking for..? As clichéd as it sounds, I really am doing what I love. The risk of failure is an important part of life and of any creative project. When we fail, we learn a big lesson about ourselves, and that’s a lesson worth taking. 

The Great Barrier Reef with David Attenborough will be aired soon on BBC1.

 

 

 

Interview with PR expert Anji Hunter

Last week I recorded an interview with Anji Hunter, an expert in Public Relations both in politics and in business. Anji worked for Prime Minister Tony Blair MP from 1987 to 2002, in opposition and government, becoming Head of Government Relations in Downing Street (1997), where she was the key liaison with the Cabinet, Civil Service, the Labour Party, Opposition Leaders and other governments. Anji was once described as “the most influential non-elected person in Downing Street”.

Later she became Group Director of Communications at BP before moving on to join the world’s largest PR firm, Edelman. as a senior adviser.

We talked about her career, but also addressed some questions close to all of us: “Can women have it all?”, “Do women help each other enough?” and “How to ask for a pay rise?”…

Please leave a reply above or a comment via Facebook below – join the conversation!

Sarah McCready on cooking and challenging herself

Sarah McCreadyThe final of Masterchef was a feast for the eye: the last three produced incredibly sophisticated food, one would expect to be served at a Michelin star restaurant. While the finalists’ plates looked stunning, personally, I craved something else on a Friday night: a bowl of chili with guacamole and homemade nachos another Masterchef contestant had produced on the show earlier. Sarah McCready had been highly praised for her inventive and always delicious creations, before leaving the Masterchef kitchen at semi finals. 24-year-old Sarah was one of 40 contestants on the live show, picked from a total of 4,000 applicants. She made it to the final six. Inspired by her food philosophy and success, I’ve met with her for a chat. Here is Sarah’s story.

Sarah studied History at St. Catherine’s College, Oxford and ‘fell into’ the property development industry after university. After a break-up with her boyfriend, she decided to pick herself up by applying to Masterchef.

“I am competitive, I love cooking and I tend to put myself forward for things before worrying about them later,” says Sarah, laughing.

Unlike other TV contests, Masterchef is all about testing yourself, learning new things and getting better at cooking. Sarah found herself completely consumed by the show, dreaming about food, constantly inventing new recipes and spending hours flicking through cookery books. “For about two months, Masterchef took over my life.”

If you give something a go, you are likely to come away with a valuable experience and learn something about yourself too. Sarah learned that professional kitchens aren’t really built for women: try lifting a heavy pan or grabbing a pot from a top shelf in a hot kitchen during a busy service. While some women love professional kitchens and are happy in their environment, Sarah discovered that she was most comfortable in a different ambience.

“I love party food, street food, comfort food dinners and food with a sense of humour. I like surprising my guests and making eating a fun experience.”

Her creations on Masterchef certainly had that oomph: Polish pirogi, Mexican street food, paella balls and egg raviolo were adventurous, creative and fun.

Meeting Sarah made me realise that for her Masterchef was just another challenge, an experience to test her culinary skills and boost her confidence. She has always been a high achiever: she was the first pupil to get into Oxford from her school. As a graduate, she got a job at Dorchester Living, a property development company, where she helped open a free school for a newly built community. Sarah was recently promoted to look after a new housing association, a huge challenge she is happy to take on.

A young woman who is bold and likes pushing herself makes my heart sing. She also makes me laugh: apparently, Sarah’s mum and nan finally allowed her to cook family Christmas dinner after her culinary skills had been vetted by John and Gregg (last Mastershef series were filmed in autumn). I am convinced that whatever this woman pursues next, she’ll do it well and her passion will shine through. I only hope that Sarah takes on a food-related project next: her own deli perhaps or a new product range? Let’s wish her well!

What would you advise your 15-year-old self? Stop being obsessed with things that aren’t important (looks, boys, stuff…).

What are you good at? I’m a good friend, I am good at my job and I know how to push myself. [Sadly, Sarah forgot to mention she was good at cooking so I had to remind her!]

What is your greatest achievement? Getting into Oxford is still pretty high on my list of achievements. I am also proud of setting up a new school in North Oxfordshire. And, of course, I am chuffed to have made the final six on Masterchef!

If you can do anything, knowing that you would not fail, what would you do? I’d launch my own business: something entrepreneurial and to do with food!

Who inspires you? Thomasina Miers. I still can’t believe that I cooked for her – she was the first winner of Masterchef and I love her food at Wahaca.

What’s your favourite recipe? Recipes are tricky. If a recipe tells you how much chilli or ginger you should be adding to your dish, then you aren’t really developing your own palette. When I write recipes for my blog, I try to avoid giving instructions that are too precise. My favourite ‘posh’ recipe is the desert I cooked on Masterchef: rose petal and cherry pirogi, poppy seed and cherry cake, sour cream and lemon thyme sorbet and milk skin crisps, inspired by my Polish roots. Otherwise, I really like rice. I often cook risotto, egg-fried rice or rice pudding.

Sarah McCready has a food blog where she shares her recipes. You can also follow Sarah on Twitter.

Nancy Honey and her 100 Leading Ladies

Nancy HoneyLast year the Somerset House hosted a fabulous exhibition 100 Leading Ladies, a project which took Nancy Honey three years to accomplish. Nancy may have been working towards that project all her life. What she has been able to achieve is awe-inspiring. Over three cups of tea, Nancy told me her story.

Nancy Honey was born in the US and came to Britain in 1970s. She studied Fine Art, Graphic Design and Photography both in the US and in the UK. She has been photographing for more than 30 years and started exhibiting her work in 1984. Alongside art, corporate and advertising projects, Nancy has published four monographs: Woman to Woman, Entering the Masquerade, Poodle Parlour and, most recently, 100 Leading Ladies.

100 Leading Ladies… I have always been fascinated with what successful, high powered women had achieved throughout their careers. How did they manage to juggle professional and family responsibilities? I have deliberately chosen women over the age of 55 because of their accomplishments, but also because senior women are very much under-represented in the media. I wanted to change that by making portraits and hearing the views of older women. I wanted to include the voice of the younger generation as well, so I commissioned former The Times journalist Hattie Garlick to interview my subjects.

When I started my research for the project, I wanted to approach women I personally admired, for example, Barbara Hulanicki OBE, fashion designer and founder of the iconic clothes store Biba. As the project developed, it was incredible to discover so many women I have not even come across before in art and science, business and public service. I asked them where they went for inspiration, to think or just to relax. Such a setting reveals a lot more about a person than a photo studio. Some of my heroines chose the comforts of their own homes, others chose professional settings, providing fascinating backgrounds to my portraits.

Brave new world…  The research and the photography took me about two years. I funded it myself, selling my house and moving into a smaller flat in the process. The next step was to get funding for the exhibition: in addition to the portraits, I also wanted to put together a beautiful book, featuring the photographs and the interviews. I had no fundraising experience, no corporate network to access, so I had no idea where to start. I went to the Westminster Reference Library, where a helpful librarian gave me a UK Guide to Company Giving. Gradually I learned how the company funding worked; I researched then approached many, many companies that I thought were a good fit with the project. I hired an intern and an assistant to help me. I also did a huge amount of networking.  It took us a year to put together the required funding. Women push themselves, if they really want something.

Thirteen of Nancy’s portraits were purchased by the National Portrait Gallery in 2013 and displayed in a small group exhibition of recent acquisitions. The complete work was shown at Somerset House in 2014. Her accomplishment lives in a stunning, timeless book, featuring photos and interviews, which is available for purchase online.

What have you learned from the women you’ve met? They were all incredibly passionate about their work. It is also true that many women had to make sacrifices to achieve what they have.

What would you advise your 15-year-old self? I would advise her to try to look for a role model or a mentor. Although I had loving parents, there was no one in my life to look at who was the kind of woman I wanted to be.

What are you good at? I am good at organisation, managing complicated problems and taking on challenges. I love research.

What is your greatest achievement? My two children.

If you can do anything, knowing that you would not fail, what would you do? At this point, I would build my own house.

Who inspires you? There are too many people to mention. I admire so many artists in so many fields, both young, old, alive or dead. There is so much to find out about and to be in awe of.

To find out more about Nancy’s work, please visit her website www.nancyhoney.com and www.100leadingladies.com

Interview with Jo Moseley who rowed 1,000,000 metres for charity

Jo Moseley is 49 years old. She lives in Skipton in West Yorkshire. Earlier this year she decided to embark on a bit of a challenge: to row 1,000,000 metres, a half marathon and then a marathon on a rowing machine to say Thank You and raise money for Macmillan Cancer Support who have been looking after both of her parents. Listen to a 10-minute podcast with fabulous Jo!

If you’d like to support Jo Moseley and her tremendous challenge, you can donate via www.justgiving.com/onehappyrower

Jo is rowing a marathon in Ilkley Tennis Club on 21 December 2014. If you live nearby, do pop by and give her a cheer! You can also give her a shout on Twitter via @OneHappyRower

Jo Moseley

My own ‘Mission Impossible’

Two years ago the theme of the very first Ladies Who Impress celebration was Mission Impossible. I brought some post-it notes and encouraged everyone to write down a ‘mission impossible’, a mountain they aspire to climb. We are all different, so for someone running a 5,000m race is equivalent to climbing a 5,000m peak for another person. Of course, one’s mission doesn’t need to be a physical challenge at all. Keen to lead by example, I wrote down my own ‘mission impossible’. I’ve kept the post-it note.

Write and Publish a book

The emotional whirlwind of that first event was followed by a snowfall of ‘things to do’, ambitions, aspirations, daily routine, ideas and projects. There was Ladies Who Impress to grow and nurture; there was a job to do to pay the bills; there were thousands if not millions of tiny snowflakes slowly and steadily piling on top of that post-it note, until it disappeared from view.

At the very beginning of this year I read the childhood’s memoirs of Clare Balding, My Animals and Other Family. I loved the book, in fact, I cannot recommend it highly enough. In the Acknowledgements section, she wrote: “I have never written a book before, partly because I was scared and partly because I kept telling myself I didn’t have time.” This was my light bulb moment.

It is so very easy to get caught up in things, label yourself as “busy” and flick one day after another just like pages of a Kindle book. This summer I went on an annual pilgrimage to Russia to see my family, and I decided that I will carve out time to write a few stories I have been visualising in my head for the last two years. I also gave myself permission to write, in other words, I packed the bags for my ‘inner critic’ and sent it away.

Last Friday Babushka and Me: Memories from a Soviet Childhood has been published on Amazon. The stories took two months to write; they were edited by the brilliant Joy Tibbs and illustrated by an amazing artist – Alexandra Burda.

Babushka and Me is a collection of memories from my Soviet childhood. I grew up in a country in which bananas were like gold dust; circus was endorsed by the Communist Party as ‘the people’s art form’; sport was practised as a discipline, rather than as a recreational activity. Soviet children learned to read by absorbing stories about ‘Grandpa Lenin’ and joined the ranks of the young ‘pioneers’, who proudly wore their red neckerchiefs to school.

Babushka and Me is a journey back in time and a tribute to the unconditional love of my grandmother.

Babushka and Me

Babushka and Me is also very much a ‘Ladies Who Impress‘ story: I am convinced that with a dash of talent, a pinch of confidence, a dollop of courage, a spoonful of perseverance and a ladle of hard work, any ‘mission impossible’ is possible for women of the Ladies Who Impress community, i.e. YOU and ME!

The book is available on Amazon. If you are not based in the UK, simply go to your local version of Amazon and type in “Babushka and Me” or my name (Jana Bakunina) in the search box.

If you don’t have a Kindle, you can download a free Kindle app from the same page on Amazon and read the stories on your tablet, phone or on your laptop / desktop screen.

I sincerely hope that you enjoy the stories. Feel free to email me and let me know what you think!

A Dash of Talent with Lois Pryce, Susan Ma and Vivienne Clore

A Dash of Talent at Grace Belgravia by Abby Chicken Photography

A Dash of Talent at Grace Belgravia by Abby Chicken Photography

What is talent?

Is it an innate ability or capacity for greatness, which needs to be developed?

I lean towards the latter. As journalist and author Malcolm Gladwell explained in his book Outliers, success is not a simple derivative of natural ability be it in business, sport or arts. It takes practice, supportive environment and time to develop talent. And yet we tend to compliment people for being “talented” rather than praise them for tenacity, hard work or simply for being brave and giving something a go.

This summer the artist Marina Abramović spent 512 hours at the Serpentine Gallery, engaging with visitors. British Athlete Jo Pavey won the 10,000m gold medal at the 2014 European Championships in Zürich, ten months after giving birth to her second child, to become the oldest female European champion in history at the age of 40 years and 325 days. Both women put in a lot more than just talent to achieve career heights.

Just how much talent do we actually need to achieve success or fulfilment? We went on to explore with three wonderful guests: Vivienne Clore, Lois Pryce and Susan Ma.

Vivienne Clore

Vivienne Clore joined a theatre talent agency The Richard Stone Partnership as a secretary, starting with a typewriter and dictations, and working up to becoming a partner with her own client list, including such names as Jo Brand, Joan Collins, Bridget Christie, chefs Michael Caines and John Burton Race. With over 30 years in the business, Vivienne knows how to spot talent.

For her talent is a natural ability, and her role as an agent is to help nurture and grow it. Vivienne is convinced that women make better talent agents because of their greater empathy, ability to listen and multitask. She credits her own success to the fact that she had always loved being around creative people and that she is naturally more inclined towards putting other people into the spotlight.

Lois Pryce

Lois Pryce by Abby Chicken Photography

Lois Pryce  ditched her job at BBC at the age of 29 and set off on a two-wheel adventure from Alaska to Ushuaia in 2003. She does not rate herself as a naturally born motorcyclist but she enjoys it: “all the thrills of movement, travel and adventure, and the simple idle pleasures of just sitting and thinking in the great outdoors. You can’t beat it!” For Lois, adventure is a personal thing, “it means whatever you want it to”. She discovered her passion for travel writing and has since published two books:  Lois on the Loose about her American adventure and Red Tape and White Knuckles about Africa.

On the night Lois talked about her simple lifestyle, living with her husband on a boat, having had to take on temporary jobs, even working as a motorcycle courier in London. But she has found creative fulfilment in travelling and writing about it, running a travel film festival with her husband and giving talks around the world.

Susan Ma

Susan Ma by Abby Chicken Photography

Susan Ma has quite a story to tell. From the stalls of the Greenwich market, Susan grew her natural skincare brand Tropic to turn over £3 million in 2013. Lord Sugar, who had partnered with her even though Susan had lost in the final of the 2010 Apprentice series, must be pleased.

During the interview, Susan told us about her challenging childhood in the communist Shanghai, then in Sydney where she had to teach herself English before moving to Britain with her mother to start all over again. Susan believes talent is something one grows and develops and that we are all capable of achieving tremendous heights, provided we are hungry for it.

Susan talked about the Apprentice with great enthusiasm describing the contest as a crash course in entrepreneurship, with access to incredible perks and learning opportunities. She came out knowing she wants to grow her own business and succeed. She did, and she is now helping other women supplement their household income through social selling of Tropic skincare. (By the way, the products are amazing, try ordering a few from the Tropic website).

It was a inspiring night, hosted at the beautiful Grace Belgravia, where women (and a couple of men!) of the Ladies Who Impress community gathered once again to celebrate talented(!), tenacious and successful yet grounded female role models.

You don’t need buckets of talent to brave something new or achieve fulfilment.  A dash of it is just about right.  Talent might be the opening but it’s courage, perseverance and hard work that make all the difference.

I’d like to leave you with a quote by Henry van Dyke:

“Use what talent you possess: the woods would be very silent if no birds sang except those that sang best.”

Lois, Jana, Susan

Lois Pryce, Jana Bakunina and Susan Ma by Abby Chicken Photography

Ladies Who Impress in the audience by Abby Chicken Photography

Ladies Who Impress (and a gent!) in the audience by Abby Chicken Photography

A story of Caroline Smith or how to excel in the City and succeed in the Middle East

City of London

Let me introduce you to Caroline Smith, Head of Oil, Gas and Petrochemicals execution team at Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation, Japan’s second biggest bank. Caroline is based in the City of London and leads a team, arranging financing for billion dollar energy and natural resources projects around the world.

Caroline has a MSc in Physics from the University of Oxford. Over the course of her career she worked for UBS, Societe Generale and Operis, focussing on project finance, before landing a job at Sumitomo Mitsui, where she has been for the last 7 years.

Japanese corporate culture is famous for being male-dominated and hierarchical. “You can’t go home until the boss does”, says Caroline. However, despite the broad-brushing attitude to women, Caroline’s merit and ambition earned her promotion after promotion until she was put in charge of her current team and asked to focus on the rich oil clients in the Middle East.

“When I first went to Saudi Arabia, the client would not even shake my hand”, recalls Caroline. “The men in the boardroom chatted through my presentation and kept ignoring me, addressing my boss instead.”

Caroline told herself: “Stay brilliant, show them my worth.”

This tenacious approach has certainly worked. Caroline travels to the Middle East on average once a month. She was instrumental to a $4 billion dollar upgrade to a refinery in Oman, a $40 billion Liquified Natural Gas plant financing in Australia, and her Saudi clients have indeed learned her worth.

Caroline Smith 2When she isn’t adding miles to her frequent traveller card, Caroline does pilates, swims and umpires for her local rowing club and at Henley.

We talk a lot about the City, its culture and its working practices, unhelpful to women. And yet it is worth putting spotlight and celebrating women who have managed to succeed in the City and become the pathfinders for the generations to follow.

Caroline is a genuine inspiration. She said to me at the end: “My work is interesting, it pays well and I am good at it.” I say, you can’t argue with that!

Ladies Who Impress in the House of Lords

Jana Bakunina at the House of LordsLast month Baroness Elizabeth Barker invited me for tea at the House of Lords(!), and we talked about life peers and an impostor syndrome.

Members of the House of Lords are not elected but appointed (by the Queen on the advice of the Prime Minister). Liberal Democrat Elizabeth Barker did not see it coming when she was asked to join the House of Lords in 1999.

“Life peers are extremely knowledgeable in their areas of their expertise, be it healthcare or law or education. In the House of Lords we get a chance to go through the proposed legislation in much greater detail and challenge it, if necessary.”

 “Yet, despite my experience in consulting, corporate social responsibility, change management and policy, it took me a while to recognise my own achievements and power as a life peer to make a difference.”

Why is it that self-doubt is common even among high-achieving women? Instead of making the most of the opportunities and marching forward, we question ourselves and feel out of depth. If this sounds familiar, you might like the Guardian article, suggesting that the best remedy against the impostor syndrome is to share our experiences and talk about our insecurities. In particular, it makes a difference when an inspiring role model admits to feeling vulnerable at times.

Baroness Barker is proud to be working on issues affecting underrepresented groups such as the LGBT community or mental health sufferers. As a lesbian, she was particularly interested in the success of the same sex marriage bill.

At the end of my visit I spent a few minutes in the debating chamber. I was pleased to see that one third of the members present were women.

Baroness BarkerBaroness Elizabeth Barker at the House of Lords

Meet Shona Mitchell, Managing Director of Headspace

In the recent Ladies Who Impress stories I have been praising entrepreneurs, freelancers, academics and architects, focussing on their ideas, creativity, tenacity and courage. It is time to introduce you to a Lady Who Impresses, who is inspiring in her achievements as a talented manager, who has been instrumental in helping founders of a small London-based start-up achieve worldwide recognition and success.

Shona Mitchell

Meet Shona Mitchell, Managing Director of Headspace, a meditation app, which demystified the ancient practice and introduced simple and effective means to engage mindfulness, reduce stress and anxiety, improve health, productivity and relationships of over a million of Headspace users worldwide.

Shona read Law at Oxford University, but did not pursue law as a profession. Instead, she built a successful career in events management.

“I loved the high pace of my job, especially the thrill of winning new business, putting together amazing events and living off adrenaline of the admittedly stressful but satisfyingly challenging environment. I was in my 20s, I worked hard and played hard, I hardly noticed long hours, frequent travel and stress, eventually taking their toll on me.”

It was fortunate that at some point Shona discovered meditation and found that regular practice genuinely helped her to reduce stress and anxiety. It occurred to her that meditation would be of tremendous help to business people, it could make a real difference to the most stressful of working environments and would make the world a better, more empathic place, if it became common practice.

“And then I suddenly came across the Headspace website, and I could think of little else until I sent its founders an email and told them they ought to hire me.

Headspace was started by Richard Pierson, a creative and marketing genius, and Andy Puddicombe, a former Buddhist monk, who after 10 years in the Himalayas returned to Britain with a mission to demystify meditation and make it an accessible common practice. Together they created simple, yet deeply authentic content to teach meditation. 

Andy and Richard agreed to meet Shona and asked her to joined them. Perhaps Shona got lucky, but in reality she came across an opportunity and made it her own. Her experience in project management, track record in the events industry, expertise in working with corporate clients and a network of contacts made her the ideal candidate to complement the creative ingenuity of the business founders.

“Andy and Richard are incredible in how they spot opportunities and come up with extraordinarily good ideas. I then pick those ideas up, bounce them around and help mould them into projects. And then it is just the case of making them happen.”

When Shona joined the company, Headspace ran one-off events and offered free 10-minute meditation downloads. Today it offers monthly and annual subscriptions to a wealth of content, including guided meditation, books, team workshops and other resources for people on the go. The app has been downloaded by over 750,000 users in 150 countries. The company has 22 employees, and has ambitions to change the world.

“When I joined Headspace, I had no experience in managing people, accounting or finance. I did not know how to grow a digital social enterprise but then who does? With Andy’s and Richard’s support, I took each day as it came, focussed on tasks at hand and just got on with them. It was not easy and I still have to pinch myself sometimes, but I am incredibly proud of what we have been able to achieve as a team.”

It seems the trick is to recognise your own strengths and use them. In Shona’s case it is her empathy, resilience, ability to get things done and make ideas happen that made her exactly the right person to lead Headspace.

Recognise your own strengths and others will follow suit.