To celebrate International Women’s Day, we
asked some brilliant local women, all of whom have achieved their own
professional successes, to tell us what advice they’d give to their
What we got from them
was a selection of empowering, honest responses that we have collected
below in the hopes of inspiring young people everywhere to #BeSomething.
now hope to add to this collection and build an anthology of
inspirational professional stories from men and women across the
country, and would be delighted if you’d like to add yours. Let us know
what your professional now would say to your 16-year-old-self at [email protected]
"Doorways open when you work hard so be brave and step outside of what you know."
goal was financially surviving the transition from dependence to
independence. I had left home and was living with my sister in a bed-sit
doing a couple of A-levels at the local college. Looking back I’m not
sure why I was even doing those A-levels. I certainly had no thoughts of
going to University and had no conscious understanding of the role
A-levels could play in getting me there.
would I tell her now? I would tell her to be ambitious and find someone
to tell her about all the squillions of different possible careers and
to assume that she could do any of them. I would tell her that as she’s
good at exams, doing academic qualifications would be a great way of
proving her capability and would provide a step up and a pathway to
loads of options. And I’d tell her that nothing is fixed - doorways open
when you work hard so be brave and step outside of what you know. One
thing always leads to another.”
- CH (Company Owner & Director)
CAN do anything you want. You don’t have to follow the crowd. Don’t
listen to everyone around you. Listen to what’s inside you. You can do
things differently your way and get on to achieve more than you now feel
As a teen I was told quite
blankly I probably couldn’t do A-levels and University was never
discussed as an option. My future was laid out as a likely secretary to
some guy in a London financial institution or something similar. That
made me more determined to do what felt more fun and interesting than
the route chosen for me by the school system.”
- VH (Company Owner & Director)
"Very little is impossible; don’t limit yourself in what you can do."
in the world, or our lives, will ever be perfect. So, don’t judge
yourself against perfection, as it’s an impossible goal to live up to.
Instead, treat yourself, and those around you, with kindness, with
compassion, with warmth.
open-hearted, generous of spirit, learn from your mistakes (and
recognise that you won’t always learn first time). But not living up to
some perfect view of the world doesn’t mean we shouldn’t have big
dreams, big ambitions. Have big ambitions and grand visions for all of
life: for family, friends, relationships, work.
curious about the world and what you are capable of. Very little is
impossible; don’t limit yourself in what you can do. You will never be
expert enough, qualified enough, prepared enough. That’s okay. Have
courage to believe in yourself and try. You will surprise yourself at
how staying open, staying big hearted (to yourself and others) will take
you to places you never thought possible.”
- SW (Strategist & Consultant)
curious, learn about how the world really works and know that you can
make an important difference. Decide how and where you want to do that
and go for it! Don’t stop until you get there. You are important and
capable, know your powers and use them wisely.”
- MH (Company Owner & Director)
assume ‘they’ (be it the bosses, your other colleagues, the men, the
older ones, the more experienced ones…..whoever) always know best. You
are there for a reason: don’t be afraid to ask questions, to challenge. A
critical, questioning eye isn’t naive, it’s curious and can be of
- LW (Company Owner & Director)
"Trust yourself and try to be brave enough to take some risks now because this may help you find the things you love to do."
have so many options to choose from but very little certainty about
where your choices will lead you. So don’t be afraid of making the wrong
choice – what you choose now will start you on your journey but will
not BE your journey. Just a first few steps along what will be a
winding path with lots of twists, turns and crossroads. Even dead-ends
which force you to reverse or take a u-turn. Along the way you will
learn some surprising and unexpected things that will help you make
better decisions as you go.
You can get
help with your decisions - take advice, listen to people you trust, ask
questions and be open to new opportunities and new people but most of
all listen to your own self. If something feels right for you then give
it a go and see how it works out. If it doesn’t feel right, then don’t
do it. Trust yourself and try to be brave enough to take some risks now
because this may help you find the things you love to do – you can
always start over.”
- AMI (Company Director)
not let 32 sixteen-year-old girls influence your thinking. Do not allow
their narrow-minded thoughts to define who you are. Do not allow others
to influence your decision-making. You don't need to be someone else
because you lack self-esteem to be who you are. You are a thoughtful,
kind and considerate person and those qualities cannot be beaten.
doubt is a bitch and she will lead you to places you don't need to
explore. Have courage and take confidence in your gut feeling, for it is
wiser than you know."
- HM (Company Owner & Director)
bold. Don’t settle for what you have for fear of not finding something
better. The old proverb of when one door closes another opens holds an
absolute truth and don’t wait for experience to prove that to you.
don’t worry about not having all the big answers and not being sure.
Nothing has to be forever; each experience is a step along the way.
There is not one single path, you can change routes at any point and
your journey will be far richer as a result."
- LA (Consultant)
"Take a very deep breath and do what scares you. You’ll have fun when you do."
life is unfair. What you can do is keep supporting the good fight,
speak up and support others. If you can do something to positively
change things for yourself and others then do it. If you can open a door
for someone else you will have made a massive difference. If you refuse
to work in a way you know is not right, you can change things for the
- VM (Agency Group Director)
what you enjoy and where your passion and curiosity takes you. Your
career won’t be straight as an arrow, but you’ll see how the patterns
emerge and how everything eventually connects. Be yourself. Always. I
know that sounds strange to your ears when you are so uncertain, so
uncomfortable in your own skin, but it will get better.
don’t need to aim for perfection, nearly there is usually good
enough. It’s okay to be an introvert, to reflect, to take your time.
Trust that your ideas have validity; have the courage to air what’s
buzzing in your brain. Add your ideas to the collective to build
something new, and to solve the tricky problems.
the doubts (for you will never entirely conquer them), but then set
them aside and do it anyway. Take a very deep breath and do what scares
you. You’ll have fun when you do."
- SC (Head of Customer Experience)
let the fear of failure stop you speaking out, bringing your voice to
the table and having the courage to believe that you have something to
offer. Be confident, but not cocky in your ideas and your work. Accept
that if someone has asked you to do a job, they have the belief you can
Enjoy the ride – wherever your
professional journey leads you can be an adventure. Learn to understand
that each project, each role is part of that adventure. Do the best that
you can do rather than worrying it is not going to be good enough for
- HL (Company Owner & Director)
"Do not fear failure, seek and embrace experience in the pursuit of confidence."
hard, drop the attitude, dance to your own tune & don’t be swayed
by others. Take risks, stay out of trouble & follow your heart,
- AR (Solutions Architect)
be afraid to speak up: if something is wrong, if you don’t believe in
something, in lessons or in the workplace. Use your voice. Asking
questions does not mean you don’t understand, nor that you are
ignorant. You are not expected to know everything and it is liberating
once you are fully able to accept that.
let opportunities where you could have asked a question, could have
defended something you believe in or could have suggested a better way
pass you by because of fear of making a mistake and being labelled as
wrong. Don’t be afraid to rock the boat. Don’t be afraid to be heard."
- AS (Social Media Strategist)
be afraid to speak up. In those small but frequent moments where you
find yourself with your thoughts confidently raging in your mind, but
frozen on the tip of your tongue scared of being judged - let them out.
Breathe. Don’t cushion your fear with reassurance that one tiny sentence
won’t make a difference. Those seemingly trivial words are the small
steps to asserting your voice."
- SB (Client Relationship Manager)
know it's only your male friends that are interested in computers, and
I know you feel like it's a club you don't belong to. Don't let that
stop you for so long. Women wrote the code that sent men to the moon.
There have been a lot of inspirational women in tech. Be one of them."
- CE (Creative Developer)
have already learned some great lessons, including everyone deserves
respect no matter who they are or where they come from (an attitude
you'll find essential for effective networking later on) and that there
is always another way to do something (you'll become an expert at never
What you are not so good
at is tuning in to how you are, what you need and most importantly
asking for help. No one succeeds in a vacuum, make sure you ask for the
support that will make the journey easier and a lot more fun!"
- MG (Company Owner & Director)
it’s okay to be uncomfortable – this drives change and let’s you see
the best in yourself – and all the truly inspirational people I’ve known
have had the shared ability to not give a crap if they look a bit
silly, or stupid, to learn something new – this also promotes confidence
to others, and I’ve found people really admire it which also increases
Secondly, stand up for
yourself, even if no one else agrees with you this doesn’t mean your
opinion isn’t valid. If you create a forceful voice for yourself
(respectful, of course) then others will naturally respect you – and the
amount of agreement you get from just speaking up is actually a bit
Finally, no one else
necessarily knows what they’re doing more than you – maybe they’re just
faking it better (this is really a result of the above two things!)."
- MS (Solutions Director)
courage, do not fear failure, seek and embrace experience in the
pursuit of confidence and allow the confidence you develop to promote
your authentic self. You will do things others said you couldn’t,
shouldn’t or wouldn’t and you will find a love in continuing to do such
things. Reclaim these words, allow them to underpin your actions because
you, like every young person, deserve the opportunity to #BeSomething.”
- CW (Founder of Further My Future)