Article by Ceri Wheeldon
Most people who have stumbled across this website will know me as the founder of Fab after Fifty. Those who know me personally will know that I had a long career as a headhunter- working on assignments across the globe. I was recently interviewed by Anna Letitia Cook of WomenUp Radio – part of a United Nations initiative to empower women to talk about what part Auhenticity played in my success – especially as I was working in a male dominated environment.
These are just some of the answers to some of the questions I was asked. You will have to listen to the full radio interview to hear all of them!
With your experience as an international headhunter and a woman who has worked very successfully in male dominated fields, how did you manage to stay authentic?
First of all I never tried to be more like a man – in spite of at least one boss who suggested I might like to look less like a woman! I always dressed extremely professionally I hasten to add, but I kept my long blonde hair and I wore heels! I think the fact that I took a softer , less confrontational approach helped me to develop business and build great relationships with my clients. I worked hard to understand their businesses and their business goals. My role was to help them achieve their business goals by finding the right people for their organisations- I simply played to my strengths to do that. I love solving problems – to me looking for that ‘impossible’ candidate was part of doing what I enjoyed doing best.
What do you think Authenticity means in Corporate terms?
Allowing people to be themselves and valued as individuals – encourage creativity and new ideas – people working collaboratively and not in silos.
How can women remain authentic and also manage to climb the career ladder, and bring in results to fit the corporate ideal?
Look at the bigger picture and what needs to be achieved along with the specific objectives of your role. s there a better way of doing things – put forward suggestions backed up with figures or case studies.
For inspiration on being authentic AND achieving goals- look at films such as Hidden Figures – where three incredibly talented African American female mathematicians who worked at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) during the Space Race. They overcame prejudice and discrimination while seeing the bigger picture and pushed boundaries to let their talent shine through. They had incredible self belief – and found ways around the obstacles that stood in their way in 1960s America.
For the full interview on authenticity listen to the first of the WomenUp Radio programmes – which I have also now been invited to join as a regular co host – when my diary permits!