I was fortunate to attend this event and have made some notes, which I hope you will find useful.

The audience was predominantly female and from all walks of life and organisations, and levels within those organisations. I chatted with people from the RN, Army, RAF (I am proud to be part of their “team”!), Google, BBC, RBS, Microsoft, and National Grid amongst others.



Mary Mcleod MP

Jean M Franczyk, Director of MOST (Museum of Science & Industry in Manchester)

Helene Reardon-Bond, Head of Policy at the Government Equalities Office

Air Cdre Dawn McCafferty, Comdt ACO


• Seek out mentors or sponsors who can help you develop your skills.

• Seek stretching assignments to aid your development.

• Use networks to influence and make contacts for the future.

• What can you contribute to the local community? Use these opportunities which are external to your day job to develop your skills for use in the workplace, eg. local Councillor, school Board of Governors or PTA, arranging sports events or craft evenings.

• Look at leaving your mark in some way.


Don’t look back or have regrets.

Success comes as a result of:

• Ambition and the desire to do well.

• Hard work.

• Good luck or timing, and your ability to spot those opportunities and grab them.

• Imposter Syndrome – where others recognise your abilities, but you don’t, so you are unsure of whether you can do the job being offered or take the responsibility – “I’m not good enough” or “I’m not ready”.

• Take calculated risks to move forward in your career.


Look for those opportunities to develop or showcase your skills – they are unlikely to fall in your lap.

It is up to you to put yourself forward. Others will be doing so.

• Exploit misfortune – put yourself forward to fill that gap. It may sound callous, but if you don’t, someone else will.

• Be on top of your subject or brief – know your job, your subject, and have answers for the questions you are likely to be asked. Be prepared.

• As a leader/manager, be a person and know your staff.



When asked the question what have you achieved this year” focus on what you HAVE achieved and what has gone well, rather than on what is yet to be achieved or went badly.

• Focus on your strengths and abilities, as weaknesses can often be addressed through training and development.

• What are your confidence robbers, so how can you eliminate/minimise them?

• What are your confidence boosters, so how can you harness them?

• What energises you and how can you harness this?

• Accept compliments, with a “thank you” rather than an excuse or an explanation. And give compliments to others.

• Ask for balanced feedback – the good and the bad, and give the same.

• If you do not know or believe in your strengths and abilities, how can you expect other people/managers to do so.

• Spend a few minutes each day focussing on what you did well that day, and also on what you could have done better.


Are you your harshest critic?

• Write an affirmation list – 50 things that you have achieved, and another 50 things you are proud of.

• What is the worst that can happen? And will it matter in 5 days, 5 weeks, or 5 months? So get it into perspective.

Are you a “mood radiator” or a “mood hoover”? Choose to walk away from the “mood hoovers” – it only takes one bad apple to turn a barrel.

• Smile – smiling releases endorphins to lift your mood and your mind-set.



Jo Cawthorne, Senior Employee Relations Manager at HSBC

Carrie Longton, co-founder of Mumsnet, Janine Freeman, Head of EU and UK Public Affairs at National Grid


A number of good general points were made:

• The work/life balance is different for each person – focus on what you want and why it matters to you.

• Flexible working – write a business case detailing what you want and the impact on the business and team – you should sell the benefits to the business.

• Returning to work post long term absence (eg career break, maternity, sickness). What has changed while that person has been away?

• Performance measurement – will have to measure the performance of the individual doing flexible working as well as the performance of the team.

• Flexible working makes economic sense as it keeps people working, retaining a skilled individual is often better than having to train someone new.



Feedback is crucial. What works for your audience?

Changing your style is not the same as changing your beliefs or who you are. However we can make our emotions and feelings visible through our behaviours.

Comms is about changing the emotional state of your audience, so if you are enthusiastic about your subject, your audience will pick up on that.

• Body language – be aware of your body language:

• Communication – you would think that the words, the message, are the most important. However research shows that it is your delivery which is the most important in getting your message across.

• Questions – asking “do you have any questions” is a closed question and demands a “yes” or “no” answer, which can inhibit the posing of questions by your audience.

• Feedback – ask for feedback on your performance. However your really need it couched in the following terms:

• Situation

• Behaviour

• Impact (on others, on my feelings, etc)

On average we spend around 10,000 days at work. At the end of your working life, or even at the end of the current week or month, you do not want to be thinking “could have, should have, would have”.

Finally a big thank you to Sqn Ldr Sarah Maskell for organising places for the RAF, and giving me the opportunity to attend and learn.