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All Eyes Are on Featured Member Jane Woods

By Staff

All Eyes are on Fabulously40 Featured Member Jane Wood!

Jane, also known as Changing Peopleon Fabulously40 runs a training and coaching company. Learn more about what she does here. 

We asked her a few personal questions to learn more about this powerful Fabulously40 woman!

1. How did you start out in your career field?

I grew up in a very working class family where educational achievements were not high on the agenda, especially for girls. There was a tacit assumption that I would marry and have children so what really was the point of too much education?

But my Scottish father, although very traditional in many ways, had a very  strong interest in education and he taught me to read at an early age. This meant when I started school I was already ahead. In the area I lived in this made me stand out and eventually I went onto the 'posh' selective school which provided me with many more opportunities than my peers. Many of my friends left school as soon as they were able and embarked on marriage and children, although not necessarily in that order! It was my school teachers who
encouraged me to think about the idea of University; and supported me in applying.

At 18 I didn't really know what I wanted to do but I was 'in love' so went to a University not far from home in London in order to be with the then love of my love. As these thing so often do, the love of my life turned out to be a very educational and interesting three year interlude but not for life. So battered and bruised (not literally!) I left after two terms and returned home with my tail well and truly between my legs.
My dad gave me a brilliant piece of advice at that time and said:

"Well, you've made a mistake and everyone has to make their own  mistakes in life. The trick is not to make the same mistake twice".

It was excellent advice and, I believe, has allowed me to take a few risks now and again, believing as I do that it's the only way to learn( well maybe not only way...)

I then went on to a Welsh university to study History and Politics, fully intending to play the field and have a great time. On the second night I met the man I `was to marry and in 1977, while still a student, married him. A decision I have never regretted- I adore him!

2. Are you currently working in the same profession you intended to?

For the last 5 years I have been running my own business but on leaving University I went into social work, taking a two year post grad course at Bath university when my daughter was on e year old. I worked in all aspects of social work over the years, probation, children and families, psychiatric and older people and those with physical disabilities. My last employed job was as project lead for the integration of health and social services in a large council.

Now I use all those skills and training in my work with women. I am a personal development specialist and coach and run training courses all designed to help women discover what they want to do and then help them to do it! I LOVE it with a passion.

3. During our careers, there are always challenges we are faced with that may or may not be gender related. What is the most significant challenge you have been faced throughout your career?

There is no doubt in my mind that we still live in a man's world. It's simply a fact, the world of work was designed by men and we women are a relatively late entry so we are always needing to challenge the established order. Things that suit men very well don't necessarily suit women. And don't always enable women to do well. Female attributes are not always as valued.

I have experienced that, of course, in my time and I now run courses looking at those issues. I made a conscious decision not to go on, although I was quite senior in my organisation, because I couldn't make the compromises required.

4. What keeps you from giving up along the way when faced with tough challenges or let downs? Where did you find the strength or desire to keep pushing forward?

My family, and especially my darling husband. But I am lucky, I seem to have an inbuilt survival mechanism that stops me from sinking completely and I can always pull myself up. I think that comes from my childhood, having very loving parents, but also parents who gave me the message 'You are as good as anyone else', although my dad would often add 'And you're no better than anyone else' as he feared I might get 'above myself' with my University education!

I also believe that anyone can do almost anything and we have much deeper reserves than we realise. It's all about how we talk to and encourage (or otherwise) ourselves!  

5. What are your accomplishments you are most proud of and why?

I love it that between us my husband and I have raised two great kids. My daughter is almost 28 and a really strong, bright, and resourceful woman. And a very loving daughter. My son is 23 and an actor and is following his dream. He is very talented and has managed to earn his living solely from acting for last two years. I love it that both our kids want to spend time with, and confide in us. It' s lovely.

I am also very proud of fact that I had the courage to give up the safe day job and launch myself into self employment and that I have written a book, 'When Work isn't Working' which really seems to be helpful to people.

And I have just finished project managing a new house for my Mum. That is a very tangible thing and is a fantastic feeling!

6. Did you have a support system surrounding you throughout your career climbing and if so, who are they and how did/do they help you?

See previous, but I have also had some very good friends who have supported and encouraged me. Women's friendships are very important to them and need to be nurtured. Yana is a great example. We have only met once when she was in London, but a connection was established and she is a huge encouragement to me.

7. What do you attribute your success to?

My upbringing, my tenacity and my optimism. I am definitely a glass half full person. I always ask myself, "well, what is the worse that could happen?" And then decide how I would cope with that eventuality, then do what I want to do, after discussion with my partner of course! I'm also not afraid of making mistakes and that's one of the ways we learn.

8. Has goal setting been a key component to your success and why?

Yes and no. Early on I was much more reactive and taking opportunities as they presented themselves. Now I do set myself goals and break them down into small achievable ones; before you know it, you've achieved the big one! I'm a great believer in thirty minutes a day will get you there!

9. In helping yourself achieve career goals, do you perform any type of mediation, relaxation or affirmations?

I have done meditation and I use visualisations a lot in my work. They work, no doubt, which is why top sports people use them all the time. And my simple affirmation is 'You can do this'. As well as a slightly ruder one which I'll keep to myself!!

10. Have you had any mentors that have guided you or provided insight throughout your career climbing? Have you been a mentor to others? What was your experience like?

I now professionally mentor lots of women and have stacks of testimonials which is lovely. Informally I mentored lots of people when working. Those important to me have been people I have admired, like my very first social work manager. He managed to combine compassion and the demands of the bureaucracy we worked in, in a way I have tried to emulate when managing staff myself.

I have another very dear friend who has risen very high in her field but remained true to herself. She has been a great influence. She shows me it is possible to live by one's principles and ethics and still progress.
At various times in our lives we all ned some extra help so I would always advise people to take a few moments to think who might be best placed to help. If you are clear about what you want, (and give something back as well), people are generally pleased to be asked.

11. What is your experience with networking and do you feel it is important?

If you take networking in broadest sense of being visible and having lots of connections then generally I think it's valuable. It's no good being very good if no one knows about you!

But personally I do not find specific networking events, unless very well organised, particularly helpful. They seem to be full of people all trying to sell their wares! But in world of work it always pays to be visible and helpful.

12. What do you feel are the essentials to career climbing and why?

Ah, this is my pet subject! I have a series of career tips on my blog which is added to regularly. I think it is essential:

1. To have a reasonably clear idea of where you want to be in the future
2. To be nice to people on way up as you may meet them on way down....
3. Take opportunities to try out the next role up, ask to attend meetings, shadowing, ask someone in a senior position for advice, etc
4. Give as much as you take
5. Don't try and behave like men, be true to yourself
6. Don't compromise your principles for short term gain
7. Remember that people make judgements on you in first 30 seconds. Work out dress code in your organisation and make a conscious decision to either follow it or not, but make sure you are managing your image.  

13. Where do you see yourself in your career in 5 or 10 years and how do you plan on getting there?

Bearing in mind that in 5 years I will be 59 and ten years time 64-

I want to have published three more books, both paper and e books.
I want to have more coaching clients.
I want to have my two programmes for women (Women Ahead and Women First) well established and well known.
I want to have a moveable business, i.e. not tied geographically, so my husband and I have some freedom to move around the country.
I want to be in a position to spend time with my family as well as work I still want to be working and loving what I do.
I am working with a great guy, a marketing specialist (which I am not) to achieve this. One book down already! I plan to continue to work hard but with time and space for my friends and family.
I'll also keep up with all new developments, reading and conferences etc. You have to keep learning and reviewing what you do.

14. Are you involved in any non-profit organizations as a volunteer or board member?

I support a small charity called Chance Sumatra run by an amazing woman, Natasha Barrymore, who went out there to Lam Assam, after the tsunami and stayed to help. The money goes directly to buy pens, pencils, clothes etc to help educate the homeless children there. I get regular e mails from Natasha which gives me a real connection.


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