“Over the course of my career, I’ve often forced myself to accelerate my growth by making a big change. For example, I took on a fixed-term contract so I didn’t get stuck somewhere for years – that was my worst nightmare. I also decided to work for myself for a while. I was an absolute fiasco. I had no idea how to run a business, and my assumption I’d be fine on my own was very wrong.
So that’s how I landed in the consulting world. I joined one of the other Big Four firms to look after their adult social care practice. I had no idea what the job even meant, but I loved the excitement of consulting and freeing the more impatient me, the one that wants progress fast. There was a big value placed on passion and speed.
But it was also a shock. Because of my background, it never occurred to me I couldn’t take my whole self to work. I’ve always been open about being a lesbian, my relationship with my partner Jo, and a strong sense of standing up for what’s right. But suddenly, my wardrobe choices made me stand out. My forthright opinions were not welcomed. And I felt like an imposter.
When I joined Deloitte, I decided to do things differently. Before, I just stood out. Now, I worked harder to fit in, to be part of the fabric of the organisation so I could stand out for the right reasons – not because of my wardrobe. I spent some time learning about how a partnership works. I’m not particularly hierarchical, so I speak my mind and challenge openly, but I needed to recognise and respect it’s not the same for everyone.
Making those changes helped me focus on what I really cared about – delivering better social care outcomes for people. Listening to the people we create services for and to the people on the frontline delivering those services. Focusing on co-designing solutions and respecting the different skills and experiences people bring to the table. Getting alongside our clients, showing humility, and building relationships based on respect. We all need incredible people on the frontline, and we have the opportunity to support these people in every way we can.”
“I felt it was important to know how to fit in, so I could choose how to stand out – how I wanted to make an impact.”