I’m Elizabeth and I thought I’d use this blog to tell you a little more about how we’re getting on as we work to build this Lean In Together chapter in the South of England. First of all, a little about how we got to this point (and exactly what point that is).
Part 1: A little About me
Gosh, where to start? I’m in my early 30’s and through my 20’s I built a career and a life I could be quite proud of (although I’m the type who’s never satisfied). I moved to England when I was 21 and just out of university (where I’d studied Biology and worked in the charitable sector). Over the next decade, I stumbled into a corporate marketing career and worked for some great big brands. I do the numbers and strategic side of marketing: research, analysis, planning, budgeting, business casing, and then delivering large-scale projects so that brands can live up to their customer promises. (In order to feel like a real marketer, I occasionally do charity work so that I can get involved in brand concepts, design, social, and email Marketing). It’s been pretty fun and it culminated in a couple of industry and sector awards in 2015.
2015 was also the year my husband and I had our daughter.
As you might expect – or know from personal experience – having a daughter was life-changing. Being lucky enough to have a corporate career in the United Kingdom, where such things are possible, I decided to take a year off to focus on learning to be a parent. I also made the (bizarre?) choice to get a Masters over that year. That choice was based on a) wanting it very badly and b) a very romantic and naive assumption that my daughter would nap. It was a tough year, but I got my degree and I couldn’t be more excited about it. Over that year, though, my sense of who I am was essentially dismantled and had to be re-built, ground up, with stronger foundations of empathy and resilience.
It wasn’t a great time to find myself job-hunting, but that’s exactly what I was doing at the end of that year – a difficult choice I made for myself in the context of enormous organisational change at my workplace.
I’d read Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In while I was pregnant and found it really encouraging. The message that resonated most deeply with me was the idea of peer support – the idea that when we come together, open up to one another, challenge one another, and learn from one another, we can achieve great things as individuals and teams. I wanted to be a part of it – to give support and to receive it myself. So, when I returned to a different job with less confidence and less organisational power/responsibility, I looked for a Lean In circle in my area. No luck… so I started one. I did this, not only to help me regain that confidence and go further in my career, but also to enable others find support for their own ambitions.