International Women’s Day: Q&A with Karen Leigh

March 23, 2019

Frazer Jones is proud to be supporting International Women’s Day 2019. International Women’s Day celebrates the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. Whilst we all know that gender parity within the workplace has improved over the past decades, we all also know that there is still a long way to go.

We would like to join the discussion and be part of International Women’s Day 2019 #BalanceforBetter campaign on the 8th March by interviewing inspiring women we work with and, in particular, understanding the role confidence has played in their career.

Frazer Jones interviewed Karen Leigh, Group HR Manager, Rotork

How do you define confidence, particularly in the workplace?

Confidence is having complete faith and knowledge of your own abilities, strengths, weaknesses and worth in the work place and a feeling of belonging and respect from and in your colleagues. It can be quite a fragile thing and I believe, for me definitely, it has lessened with age.  This is something I have heard from other women in senior positions as I have progressed through my career.  Confidence is really complicated as I have always had more confidence within the workplace than in my personal life but this is probably due the fact that I have taken on a ‘persona’ to enable me to progress in my career and be more confident.  This persona is based on my self-belief in my knowledge and abilities, positive feedback and strong working relationships with like-minded colleagues who share my values in a positive culture and environment.  When all of these things don’t come together then my confidence and my self-belief has been rocked and I have questioned my abilities, knowledge, skills and even my choices and/or decisions.

How do you think the confidence gap affects women?

It can hold women back from speaking up in meetings, from applying for more senior roles, for pushing themselves forward for promotions or to be involved in high profile projects as they feel that they do not have all of the correct skills/knowledge/experience. It can be feel like an insurmountable mountain to climb at times when you look at your male colleagues who appear to have more confidence and a ‘right’ to be at the table and pushing for what they want.  However, it is also motivation to push yourself to overcome that gap, and your own lack of confidence, and be just as confident and take your place in your own right based on your equal skills and knowledge.  At times the old adage of “fake till you make it” has proven true when it comes to confidence, the more you pretend to be confident the more you do actually feel your confidence grow.

How important have confidence and self-belief been in achieving your career goals? Please explain why.

Hugely important, at my most confident I have pushed myself forward and asked for opportunities (and got them) based on my hard work and skills.  When looking back from less confident times in my life I have been shocked at myself! My career has plateaued when my confidence has been reduced by various circumstances and the peaks and troughs in my career are all around confidence and self-belief.  Without self-belief confidence levels drop and the ability to push yourself forward reduces, you have to regroup and regain your self-belief by looking back on all your key achievements and career highs to get back the confidence to start achieving again and get back into the cycle of confidence and achievement.