She Almighty Collective - Spotlight
Our founder Carrie-Ann is part of the She Almighty Collective and was asked this month to share her story as part of the She Almighty Spotlight on Members.
You can read more below and you can find out more about the She Almighty Collective here.
Thank you Mikaela and the team for the opportunity.
Tell us about you...
By day I am a communications director in the NHS, currently working in mental health and community services. And in my free time (if that’s really a thing) I run Cat’s Pajamas, my business that I have just pivoted to follow my passions - collaborating and supporting communications professionals to thrive through mentoring.
I adore developing my colleagues and team members as I truly believe everyone deserves the chance to shine - so it felt totally right to focus my side hustle on exactly that.
I am convinced I was a flapper girl in a previous life as I love all things Art Deco and one of my favourite places on the planet is the Burgh Island Hotel. I can Charleston a little and I love a good G&T.
My dream is to celebrate my 40th birthday on the Orient Express so please keep everything crossed that the pandemic doesn’t mean we have to postpone our dream trip.
What’s your She Almighty story, what made you decide to join the Collective?
Mikaela is my coach and has been an influential part of my journey over the last few years. She invited me to be part of the She Almighty Leadership Mastermind which I was super keen to join and have been so privileged to meet an amazing group of strong, inspiring and honest women who I would probably never have had the opportunity to meet.
It seemed like a natural progression to join the Collective when Mikaela described it as who wouldn’t want the chance to connect with and learn from even more brilliant women.
I honestly think there is room for everyone to shine and succeed and as women, we should be focused on building each other up, not tearing each other down.
Sadly I’ve had a couple of personal experiences where this hasn’t been the case and it has made me even more determined to support other female leaders to really own their journeys. I spent too long being paranoid about sharing mine because I worried about other peoples’ negativity.
Tell us about your personal development journey, when did it begin, why has it been important?
I have always been focused on my personal development having chosen not to go to university and head straight into employment - I realised that to progress in my career, demonstrating how I invested in my own development was going to be crucial.
My journey has been a real mixed bag. I’ve had really supportive managers who have encouraged and nurtured me and also had managers who have shown no interest in their team’s development.
Once I joined the NHS I applied for funding to start my degree and studied with the Open University while working full time. I was so proud to gain my BSc in three years, while also getting a promotion at work. It was tough but sometimes the most important things require hard graft.
Since then I have studied for a Post-Graduate Certificate in Healthcare Communications and the International Association for Measurement and Evaluation of Communications certificate (all while holding down a full-time role).
Academic achievements can be an important aspect of your development, but I really do believe that being open to taking on new opportunities and experiences is equally as important in terms of personal and professional development.
Being open to new things that expand your skillset, experience and network can really help you to grow and develop.
I have taken on opportunities such as chairing national networks, being part of mentoring schemes and even taking the leap to start a side hustle - all massively important in terms of my own learning and development.
Our theme of the month is ‘Connection’ - that could be connecting with ourselves, others, feeling connected within our communities, the wider world and so on. What does connection mean for you? Why is it important? And how do you feel connected?
One of my core values is collaboration and this is something that I work hard to demonstrate and facilitate in both my NHS role and through Cat’s Pajamas.
Collaborating with others who share your values brings huge growth opportunities and supports you to build long-lasting connections with others.
I am so lucky that Cat’s Pajamas has given me the opportunity to collaborate with two friends to deliver the AWEsome Women’s Retreat - supporting and connecting female founders to take the next steps in their business journeys.
I’m also collaborating with a friend and former NHS colleague on our Take the Lead initiative supporting new leaders. This all helps me to feel connected to my purpose and my passion.
For me connection also means feeling close to the things that bring you joy and make you feel those strong connections with your own values and with other people.
Being near to the sea is often the place I feel most connected to my creativity and motivation and spending time with friends and loved ones who can inspire and challenge me in equal measure also makes me feel connected.
What have been your biggest and highs and lows? Challenges you’ve overcome, accomplishments you’re most proud of?
In 2020 I was recognised in the F:entrpreneur 100 #iAlso100 and was invited to the House of Lords as part of the celebration with 100 other inspirational women. That has been a definite high and something I was pleased to be able to do just ahead of lockdown!
Cat’s Pajamas was also recognised in the Small Business Saturday Small Biz 100 2020, again I was humbled to be part of these 100 businesses across the country, especially in only the second year of side-hustling.
I try to see most things as an opportunity for learning so even getting divorced, experiencing a breast cancer scare and being harassed online - although very stressful at the time - have all provided opportunities for me to reflect on what is important in my life and how I might want to take positive action going forward.
COVID-19 has been a huge pressure for everyone and for a variety of reasons. For me it meant parking my side-hustle and working 60+ hours a week in my day job for many months. I experienced a weird sense of guilt at finding this hard as I was also seeing the impact on colleagues in clinical roles.
I have realised though that we will all need time to reflect and readjust and it is important to recognise the impacts of the pandemic on our lives.
It is the first time I have felt close to burn out in a very long time, but having a support network that includes She Almighties has helped me recognise this early and take action.
What has been your most powerful life learning to date, how are you using it?
There are so many things I could say here, it’s hard to pick.
More recently I think that “invest in yourself and be the change you want to see” is something that comes back to me. A colleague said this to me many moons ago and recently I have realised that if I don’t truly believe I am worth investing in, whether that is about development, value in a role or anything else for that matter, then why would anyone else.
As someone who spends a lot of time championing others, it has taken me a while to realise I need to champion myself.
Where are you heading? What are your dreams, goals and aspirations? What do you want to be known for?
My dream is to have a coastal property so that I can spend my mornings having a sea dip to set me up for the day ahead.
I hope I will be known for supporting other communications professionals to be the best versions of themselves and being a good friend to those important to me.
If you could pick one value to live your life by, what would it be and why?
Integrity, integrity, integrity. This is so important to me as I believe that both personally and professionally you should never compromise your integrity and the older I have become the more I have realised how challenging that can be.
It takes a strong character to stand up to others and say that you don’t feel comfortable with something, but it is crucial to act with integrity as that will be the thing your decisions are judged on. You might not always get it right but if you acted with integrity then that will be respected.