How different it could have been.

Life is good. I mean really good. For the first time in my professional career I have a better working life than I could ever have dreamed.

This afternoon, I had the very great pleasure of sharing a part of me with a room full of CIPD Steps Ahead Mentors in Manchester. I have the total privilege of being the West Midlands Ambassador for Steps Ahead and I wanted to share with you why I feel so fortunate.

When I left Foster Care and School, around about the same time, I had no idea who I was or what I was going to become. It is fair to say that I was on path that didn’t have too many prospects and could land me in a whole heap of trouble. I bummed around like this, from job to job, on and off for 5 years before something happened to change the spiral of self-destruction. A job in a pub and, on the first night, in walked my future husband.

I’ve blogged before on how I got a job in a working men’s club, loved it and inspired the career that followed. My absolute love for the hospitality sector has grown and deepened ever since. It is my world. However, I could not have achieved all that I have on my own; I just wasn’t strong enough physically, mentally and emotionally. I lacked confidence, had no self-belief (something that has only really changed in the last 4 years), couldn’t see what possibilities lay out there in the big, wide world and rendered myself to a life of low paid, low skilled jobs. Existing.

What happened Who happened to enter my life to change that?

First, Mark. In he walked,to a newly refurbished pub, on that first night of opening and, I shit you not, I saw nothing but him. I was mesmerised. Totally out of my league but, you never know, stranger things have happened. I mean, what did I have to offer? No quals, not the brightest, a trail of shit stuff behind me that always found a way of finding me. Wishful thinking, but I could dream. Dreaming works, kids. 13 years on from that night, we were wed by a singing Elvis in Vegas. For the entire of the 15 years we have been together, he has been totally aware of my background, my failings, my short-comings and yet every single day he listens, advises, shares his experience, supports and encourages me to achieve my dreams. Unrelentingly, he has been the one constant to ask the tough questions, say it how it is, offer a different perspective and challenge me to better myself, face my fears. A stunning man, a wonderful human being, who I am proud and thankful to have by my side.

The second most influential person to enter my life was Jo. After I’d proven myself in Operations, I was invited to join the HR team as a pre-opening trainer. My first proper, corporate, job. New fears, new challenges and a massive kick to my confidence; did I even deserve to be here? What could I contribute? Jo took me under her wing and, unbeknown to me at the time, mentored me for the years that followed. Jo helped me to identify skills I didn’t even know I had, developed my self-confidence, helped me to understand how to market myself, improve my communication techniques and influence others. Most of all, Jo championed me, was my role model, someone I respected and admired. I wanted to be like Jo. Over time, the relationship developed. I trusted Jo. I was set goals, tough tasks, taken out of my comfort zone and was held to account for my action plan. This, shaped my career that followed; Training Manager, HRBP, L&D Manager, Group HR & Training Manager, Brand HR, People Director, Owner of my own consultancy business, Winner of my industry award (BII NITA) for innovation in training – Trainer of the Year, 2016. Me?! All of this achieved in the 20 years since I left care and school with no belief in a quality life ahead. How wrong was I?

The impact of someone investing their time, knowledge and experience in you means something. No, it means everything. Without these two people to help me on that path, life could have, and in all honestly would have, been very different.

Add all of this to the very fabulous, always available, forever giving people who I am surrounded by; My #PLN, colleagues, clients, friends and family lead me to be believe that I am one lucky kitten. Thank you to you all. You’ve changed my life for the better.

This is why I volunteer to be a mentor and why I applied to be my local Ambassador, You, too, could help someone and give them a gift. The gift of mentoring is priceless and will be forever remembered. Dreams can come true, they just sometimes need a little helping hand.

What is Steps Ahead?

Steps Ahead Mentoring offers jobseekers one-to-one mentoring sessions to help them improve their employability skills, boost their confidence and find work. From using your knowledge of the recruitment process, to helping a young person build their self-esteem, improve their CV or prepare for an interview. Your support and skills can make a real difference.

Join over 3,800 volunteers and develop your mentoring and coaching skills, boost your confidence, enhance your organisation’s reputation in the local area, and help us tackle unemployment.

How does Steps Ahead work?

Across the UK, jobseekers are referred to Steps Ahead by Jobcentre Plus Work Coaches, and other selected partners. The programme is currently available to young jobseekers (aged 18-24) in the majority of areas, but they have also begun to roll it out to parent returners’ and older workers (aged 50+) in selected areas.

You don’t need to have any formal mentoring qualifications to take part. Mentors help jobseekers with:

  • CV writing
  • interview techniques
  • identifying skills
  • self-marketing
  • developing self-confidence.

It’s a great opportunity for you to develop your own skills, such as:

  • mentoring
  • coaching
  • providing feedback
  • handling sensitive situations
  • applying your professional knowledge.

Other ways to get involved

Even if you are not able to become a mentor, there are other ways you can help improve the job prospects of people.

  • If you don’t feel that a mentoring or volunteering role is right for you, why not take on a young jobseeker for work experience? Read the leaflet Making work experience work: top tips for employers for more information on offering work experience.
  • Are you willing to spare a couple of hours of your time to volunteer at a local school, to help students with their CVs, conduct a mock interview or deliver a careers insight talk? If so, then find out about the Inspiring the Future initiative.

Thank you X

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Widow, Cats, Family, People Stuff, Exec Coach, Food Nerd, Gin Queen.

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