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International Women's Day 2024

Celebrating the women who have shaped my career

For International Women’s Day this year I wanted to give a big-hearted, throw your arms in the air, shout out to the amazing, inspiring, talented women who have shaped my 20-year career.

So here they are, in all their shining glory. I wouldn’t be where I am today if it wasn’t for these women and the impact that they have had on me both personally and professionally.

I am full of gratitude for each and every one of you!

Thank you

Anna x


My professional career started c.2005 following a few rudderless years after graduation. I was a Training Coordinator (£13K a year!) for The Myers Briggs Company (back then known as OPP).

Natalie was the first manager that I had who I felt cared about my development and supported me to grow, I always felt like she had belief in me and challenged me to stretch myself. I learnt so much from her about what it means to be a brilliant manager and a decent person!


I enable people to improve their employability prospects, for free, through the power of education in cutting-edge skills.

What career advice would you give to your younger self?

Don't be afraid.

Whether that is being afraid of making mistakes, trying new things or changing things.

Don't be afraid to speak up.

Don't be afraid to hold true to your values.

However, also don't be afraid to listen, don't be afraid to admit you were wrong, and don't be afraid to change your mind.

What regrets do you have?

Not fighting harder when I was made redundant whilst on maternity leave. I am still sore about this now.

Sadly, I have also seen this happen to other women throughout my career and I am fortunate now to be in a position where I can challenge and argue for these women, even if they are never aware.

What does career happiness mean to you now?

Meaningful work, challenge, the environment to be authentic, and the ability to have fun.

When all of those things combine, it's a heady mix.

What do you remember about us working together?

Your enthusiasm and drive.

You were always willing to push yourself and wanting to be the best you could be. You were willing to learn and challenge yourself, however, I also remember at times you would get frustrated if things didn't move as quickly as you would have liked them to :)

Not to mention all the fun we used to have!!

However, one thing you may (or may not) remember, is that when I took on leadership of the team, it was my first time being a manager. I had a large team and some HR experience, and no leadership experience. There were days when I definitely felt out of my depth! But working with you (and others in the team) meant I couldn't give up. You were integral in shaping how I would show up as a leader, and steering my career away from HR and into operational leadership. You helped shape my career, as much as I may have had an influence over yours, and for that, I am very grateful.


Whilst in this new professional world I found myself in, Tracey was the HR Manager.

Tracy taught me “to always have an open door” and what that means in practice and metaphorically!

One of the easiest people to speak to and the embodiment of the power of listening and showing you care.



What career advice would you give to your younger self?

Keep an open mind about roles that aren’t within the typical career path. At one point I had an incredibly varied role within a small entrepreneurial company. I learned so much that I was able to take back into an HR role at a later stage. I could have been more adventurous in my early career.

What regrets do you have?

I used to encourage people to try to move on and not dwell on work issues. When I had my own issue, I found it harder than expected and I don’t feel as though I handled it particularly well.

What does career happiness mean to you now?

I’m retired so I’m extremely fortunate to be able to look back at all the amazing and inspirational people I met and I’m thrilled to still be in touch with many of them. I’m also very proud of some of the initiatives I introduced.

What do you remember about us working together?

I absolutely loved working with you, Anna. I was so impressed with your empathy and your ability to express your feelings. I learned a lot from you. I’m just sorry I didn’t ever manage to tempt you into joining the HR team!


As my career progressed I joined the Sales team, it was a lot of fun, some big personalities and we challenged and cheerleaded each other on.

Liane was one of the team, a powerhouse!

Big-hearted, diligent and hard-working. I learnt from her what it means to produce high-quality work, to have grit and be determined.

Later on in my career, I worked with Liane as a client and even then I felt that she always had my back.

A brilliant person to learn from!


Passionate about supporting others to enabling them to shine and excel

What career advice would you give to your younger self?

Work hard, know your worth and don't let anyone dim your positivity

What regrets do you have?

Feeling like I always had to get it perfect from the off

What does career happiness mean to you now?

I derive happiness in my career really by helping others, and I can do this in a multitude of ways that are meaningful to the individuals and the business. And seeing people that I have supported achieve greatness while also having the chance to keep learning new skills and capabilities myself is the ultimate reward.

I also think that career happiness is when you know that you are believed in by those around you - that your value is seen and your organisation, manager, and peers let it make a positive impact.

What do you remember about us working together?

Your passion for learning, asking questions and delivering great results. Not to mention your great sense of joy, honesty and being a good judge of character.

I always admire your ability to see the bigger picture and distil the key objectives succinctly.

In addition, when you have experienced tough times, it may have slowed you down but never made you stop believing in yourself and what you wanted to achieve.


Another strong, ambitious woman was Kathryn ...who also coached me!

Kathryn taught me not to shy away from asking for what I want and deserve. This sounds simple but as women, there is a lot against us that stops us from doing this even now and especially 20 years ago!


I work with individuals, teams and organisations to fulfil their potential

What career advice would you give to your younger self?

1. Never underestimate the potential you have to make a positive difference in the world.

2. Believe in yourself and others will follow

3. Striving for perfection is a losing battle - you are enough.

4. Seek feedback and be prepared to fail (that's where the real learning comes)

5. There are opportunities for growth and learning in everything if you look for them

6. Remember to lift others up along the way

7. Ensure that your self-esteem is not tied purely to your job

8. You will have tough times but they will pass

9. Make time to do what makes your heart sing - life is short and it will fly by

10. Have fun!

What regrets do you have?


Could I have done things differently? Yes, but I did the best I could with the resources I had at the time and the things I have learned along the way are part of the journey. I can't change the past so try not to waste time on regrets. I am working on focusing on the present moment as that is the only thing I can truly influence (still a challenge for me!)

What does career happiness mean to you now?

Being able to make a real difference in the world both at work and outside. Helping others to fulfil their potential in whatever context is deeply satisfying to me. I enjoy taking what I have learned in my career and applying it in different contexts. I have a particular passion for supporting women as so often I see them underestimating their potential.

Happiness for me is knowing that in some way I am helping others on this journey.

What do you remember about us working together?

Firstly and importantly, lots of fun and laughter! I remember you being very uniquely and authentically 'you' which I loved. You brought fresh and different perspectives and challenged my thinking. I always saw the potential in you (I am not sure you always did yourself) and I am so proud of what you have achieved and where you are now.


Just before my 30th birthday I left and went to a global marketing agency

This is where I met my work wife, Steph.

Difficult to describe how important Steph was and still is to me, but you know when you feel like someone has completely got your back and is there for you how much it shapes your confidence and self-belief…well Steph did that for me.


Runs a global agency focussed on through-partner marketing for the tech industry.

What career advice would you give to your younger self?

Stay curious, everyone is learning from each other, and ask for feedback from multiple levels regularly.

What regrets do you have?

I don’t believe in regrets, I call it learning.

What does career happiness mean to you now?

Seeing growth in the business and being able to empower others to grow in confidence and rise to the top and become leaders.

What do you remember about us working together?

The honesty and fun of our friendship, the intensity, passion and rollercoaster nature of our business.


Martina was one of my team members and the safest safe pair of hands you could ever wish for. She just had it covered, she did what she said she would and told you if she couldn't.

It was a total dream to have Martina as part of our team.


I'm a mom who cherishes every moment. Trying to juggle a full-time job, family life, and taking care of myself has shown me the importance of finding a balance.

What career advice would you give to your younger self?

I've learned that growth is an ongoing journey.

Every experience, good or bad, helps us develop both personally and professionally.

Embrace change and always be open to learning new skills. In today's fast-changing work world, being able to adapt is important. Also, as things are always evolving, it's crucial to take every opportunity as a chance to learn something new.

What does career happiness mean to you now?

Feeling fulfilled and purposeful in my job.

It's not just about enjoying what I do, but it's also about making a meaningful impact in my work.

Continuous growth and development. I thrive in environments that provide opportunities for learning and progression, both personally and professionally. This ongoing journey of improvement keeps me engaged and motivated in my career.

Maintaining a healthy work-life balance. As mentioned before, I think it is important to prioritise my family commitment and my overall well-being alongside my career development. Striking this balance allows me to bring my best self to both my professional and personal life.

What do you remember about us working together?

You were always really good at handling tough situations professionally.

I also admired how you could always see the good in people, even when they made mistakes. I remember you used to say something wise about how people always try their best, even if things don't go perfectly.

You were also really passionate about helping people learn and grow in their jobs. I was lucky to have learned so much from you, especially since I started working with you right after university. Your guidance has been a big part of my success, and I'm very thankful for that.


I still remember interviewing Andrea.

You know when they say you can develop skills but it’s much harder to teach or develop someone’s “will”. Well, Andrea had willingness in buckets.

She would always be the one who said "I’ll give that a go, I can try, I can learn"…she put herself forward without fear and just did it! What an amazing thing!


I lead a regional team for one of our company's line of business/departments.

What career advice would you give to your younger self?

To trust my instincts and be confident in my abilities.

What regrets do you have?

Perhaps not exploring other opportunities like changing of company earlier on to work with a vendor directly.

It would have also meant not learning other things that today I'm proud of.

What does career happiness mean to you now?

Striving for continuous learning, personal growth, and skill expansion while maintaining a healthy work-life balance.

What do you remember about us working together?

You've always been an inspiration as a confident and smart woman. Your ability to organize and give meaning to things is remarkable. I'm incredibly grateful for the life-changing opportunity you gave me to set up our office in Malaysia.


After a wonderful 8 years, I left that business to step into a Chief People Officer role and Jay was part of the HR and Recruitment team I managed.

One of the development areas is my eye for detail and being a complete finisher (but I am working on it).

Jay had both of those qualities (and tons more) in buckets! She’s ace!

I loved helping her think about how she could grow and develop, she was always willing to experiment and try new things.


In a nutshell, I help find and hire top candidates whilst managing an end-to-end recruitment process.

What career advice would you give to your younger self?

I'd emphasise the importance of exploring different interests and industries early on as, like most in this profession, I completely fell into recruitment by accident. I would also stress the value of being open to learning new skills and embracing failure as a learning opportunity.

Also, network, network, network!

What regrets do you have?

I try not to have regrets as someone who likes to believe that everything happens for a reason. But I would potentially say allowing fear of failure/rejection to hold me back and potentially missing opportunities for growth because of this.

What does career happiness mean to you now?

Career happiness to me is a combination of professional growth, a healthy work-life balance, and having a positive work environment.

I enjoy learning new things and being involved in projects to keep the day-to-day from feeling stagnant, whilst working in a supportive and collaborative culture where I feel valued by my colleagues.

What do you remember about us working together?

I genuinely do not have one negative thing to say about my experience of working with Anna, as far as managers go, Anna is one of the best.

I will always be thankful for Anna’s support, encouragement, and clear communication when we worked together. Anna was able to recognise my strengths which helped me to grow professionally and feel confident in my abilities. Alongside this, Anna’s management style also created a very positive work environment within our team which meant I felt valued and motivated to be the best version of myself!

But above all, I will always remember Anna for having the best manicures and nail art!


In that role, I was on the senior management team with Harmony who headed up our USA HQ.

I remember my first in-person encounter with Harmony over lunch and felt the relief of finding someone like me. It was a lot of pressure and expectation working at that level and Harmony was someone who…well, brought Harmony! Such a supportive, kind soul.


Help others find their superpowers and align them to career opportunities

What career advice would you give to your younger self?

Find more mentors, and ask more questions!

What regrets do you have?

Not believing in myself and what I had to offer as being equally important as others

What does career happiness mean to you now?

Knowing the experience and skills I have to offer is of genuine value to those I'm working with.

What do you remember about us working together?

Our shared candour, your wit, and our immediate kindred-spirit connection


So I first met Jo when I was working in-house and I was a client, I then left my role and wasn’t sure what to do. Jo very breezily said, how’s about coming and doing some project for us…and really from there, the rest is history.

That started my career as self-employed and doing my own thing.

Jo showed me what it means to be entrepreneurial, to own your value, to not compromise on who you are and just frankly do it! Brilliant leader to work with.


A creative problem solver that helps unlock the potential in people

What career advice would you give to your younger self?

To trust my gut more and remember that in life it is about making progress not being perfect

What regrets do you have?

I don't do regrets as everything in life is a learning experience.

I know that sounds trite but for me regret is a wasted emotion as what happened is what you do in the present that matters and helps shape your future

What does career happiness mean to you now?

Doing the things that bring me joy, working with great people, building the business, walking with Dylan, simple things. Don't get me wrong I am still very driven but for me, I have stripped it back to what am I passionate about and doing more of those things

What do you remember about us working together?

Your kindness, honesty and bravery to push people and yourself


Claire and I first worked together as co-facilitators and over the years have become friends, fellow business owners, comrades, confidants and peer mentors. Claire is an empathic, inspiring woman. Consciousness, caring and good fun!

Also very picky about PPT layouts!


Passionate life-long learner. Loves a great question!

What career advice would you give to your younger self?

Follow Your Curiosity and Be Bold.

Pursue your passions and be led by your curiosity, for it gives you clues to what's important in your future. The power of stepping into the unknown reaps far greater rewards than you can ever imagine, so just do it. Because it's in these moments of courage that you truly find yourself.

What regrets do you have?

No regrets, only that I may never achieve all the things I want to learn in this lifetime! Forever learning.

What does career happiness mean to you now?

Doing what I love every day and collaborating with amazing clients.

What do you remember about us working together?

Love collaborating with you, Anna! You are super supportive, creative and insightful. A wonderful coach and a joy to facilitate with - we bounce off each other, have each other's back, and our different styles work so well together.


I met Jo Wheatley when I was deciding to train as a coach. She said to me “It’s like you’ve come home”. And it was and still is. Jo is an inspiring, coach, supervisor, leader, and human! The biggest heart and ambition to go with it.


A compassionate and courageous mum, passionate about everyday mental health and determined to make a positive impact in the world!

What career advice would you give to your younger self?

Get a coach!

What regrets do you have?

I don't have any regrets. I appreciate all the experiences I have had and focus on the learning as a way to stay future-focused. I have always done the best I could with the resources I had at the time.

What does career happiness mean to you now?

Designing and achieving a career that enables me to honour and enjoy the things that I most value in life. I am fortunate to have achieved that already.

What do you remember about us working together?

Your intensity, your focus on morals and determination to do your best.


I did my training with Jo and Zoe, and Zoe shaped how I thought about myself and the contribution I wanted to make. Zoe has an innate skill of making complicated things super simple and easy to do. In those early days of setting up my business, she would help me think about the simple steps to take, rather than getting in my head and overcomplicating what I needed to do.


I wear several hats, one of these is as a facilitator of learning and personal growth as well as an educator on how to use coaching skills to enable others to grow both personally and professionally. I support people to find their courage, tap into their compassion and become deeply curious about behaviour – their own and others! Another hat I wear is a creative one that leads me to think about all the ways I can grow my business to have a bigger impact in the world.

What career advice would you give to your younger self?

Doubts are self-made, just go for it.

What regrets do you have?

No regrets, every step has created learning moments and without those, I may not be where I am today

What does career happiness mean to you now?

Doing something I love in the way that I want to do it, with the time for my interests and commitments beyond work.

What do you remember about us working together?

I remember your commitment to your own learning, your curiosity in asking questions, your willingness to challenge and your sense of fun!


When I first met Joanne, if I am honest, I was slightly intimidated! Straight talking, direct, no-nonsense that was Joanne. Ironically we were then paired to practice coaching on one another and from there our friendship blossomed. She’s taught me to fucking own it, to be myself, to step into my power and to not listen to the nonsense. She’s epic!


I'm a woman who is lucky enough to be able to do my best to enjoy each day and count my blessings. I go to the gym and do a variety of portfolio and volunteer roles. I am able to do a variety of interesting things which I am grateful for.

What career advice would you give to your younger self?

Not work so hard and to enjoy what I was doing. Be in the moment, be courageous and value myself. Worry less.

What regrets do you have?


What does career happiness mean to you now?

Be able to only do what I enjoy and be myself.

What do you remember about us working together?

Your ability to make things happen and to put people together as well as being a skilled coach


In 2022 I ran a community for freelancers and Jo would come and run a monthly group coaching session for us. Jo showed me how you can be creative and compassionate, how to connect with humans and how to be human. She helps those she’s working with by role-modelling what is possible. A wonderful, funny soul!


Professional gluer of teams

What career advice would you give to your younger self?

Career progression is not, nor should it be, linear. Be comfortable straying from the path. Don't ever lose sight of who you were at age 19 ….. she is and will continue to be, your business secret weapon. Her authenticity and constant questioning of the status quo will light up your career.

What regrets do you have?

Giving my original Ramones T-shirt to my brother. There are no regrets! Regrets linger around your mind and can take up residence there. I’ve made mistakes. Would I have made them with the benefit of hindsight? No! But have I squeezed the learning juice out of each one? Absolutely. Treating all my mistakes as if I’m making a smoothie!

What does career happiness mean to you now?

The moment when a client thanks you for a good idea and you tell them that they actually came up with up with it. You’re just the messenger of their own words.

That look of surprise and pleasure is like gold dust.

What do you remember about us working together?

Your sheer warmth. It’s rare to meet people who can be warm through a screen ( we’ve never met in person) but you have ‘it’.


Laura was one of my first practice coaching clients for my coaching diploma. Since then we have become business buddies. Laura has consistently supported me and cheered me on in the challenging times.


I help Procurement leaders increase their impact and drive greater business engagement

What career advice would you give to your younger self?

Go with your gut

What regrets do you have?

Not trusting my gut sooner, as I now know it hasn’t ever let me down!

What does career happiness mean to you now?

Choosing the work I want to do and how I want to help others as well as embracing my creativity with ideas for my business.

What do you remember about us working together?

Your kindness and your wise words when we first worked together, and now our regular voice notes supporting each other in our businesses!


And then to the present day, when I think about the woman who is shaping my career now, it’s my mentor and friend Sarah.

Developing a business from the ground up is way harder than I thought it would be, and Sarah has taught me how I can find the secret sauce that makes my business flourish. Sarah embodies authenticity and helps others find theirs. A brilliant mentor and friend.


I help big-hearted coaches and consultants grow purpose-led, profitable businesses that make them happy and feel like an extension of who they are.

What career advice would you give to your younger self?

Trust that you'll shine your brightest when you're being true to yourself.

What regrets do you have?

Not listening to my intuition enough and putting up with dickheads!

What does career happiness mean to you now?

Being my true to myself, doing work I love with values-aligned clients who see my value, having fun, freedom and flexibility to enjoy time in nature and work around my young family.

What do you remember about us working together?

Your ability to read between the lines and surface what isn't being said. Your kindness, humour and generosity. 💗


Thank you for reading this and sharing in the celebration of these wonderful women.

And as it’s IWD, why don’t you send a message of gratitude to a woman who has made a special impact on your career and tell her why?

It will make her day.

I promise.


I’m Anna, Founder of Steps Into Strides, Coach, Mum (Molly & Clemmie), partner to the long-suffering Tim, dog-lover, ex-HR Director,

ENTJ, Cornwall born, Oxfordshire bred, 5ft 10, comedy genius (joking not joking!),facilitator, obsessed with colour, novice gardener, community builder and always the last on the dance floor.

I work with open-minded, values-led, curious senior professionals to help them develop a career that feels good, aligns with who they are and pays the bills.

I’m on a mission to unlearn the weight of expectations put on us by society, employers, and institutions, the world at large (!) and instead lean into my intuition and self-trust.

It’s a continuous work in progress.

Anna x


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