How I cracked the glass ceiling and still do what I love

glass ceiling (noun): an unacknowledged barrier to advancement in a profession, especially affecting women and members of minorities.

(DISCLAIMER) it isn't the journey you were probably hoping for!

It's March 2018 and I am a Chief Marketing Officer, Board Member of a Charity dedicated to fighting for the disadvantaged, Certified Mentor of Children, Mental Health Advocate and sharing my story through Speaking and Writing.

Having said all of that - it wasn't a typical or straight-lined journey to get here and I definitely haven't finished yet!

During my talks I often speak about living your best life, and to try and find what it is that truly sets your soul on fire. For me it's making a difference in others' lives, which I know is a little cliche, but I've been brought up within charity work and it is definitely something that comes naturally to me - albeit this doesn't need to be everyone's passion.

Kinda feels like this!

Kinda feels like this!

It could be writing, cooking, marketing, developing tech apps, looking after dogs, being a home maker and providing for your family - everyone's passion and likes are going to be unique and different, so make sure it's your own and not someone else's.

I was brought up to be fiercely independent so I was able to find what I liked and didn't like quite easily on my own. I started full time work straight out of school and over the years found myself in Sales and Marketing. I had a natural skill in Marketing so followed that path. 

In 2010 I was a Marketing Specialist at a global conglomerate looking to move into a 2IC role when I was struck with a near-fatal ruptured brain aneurysm. I ended up losing my job, being in loads of debt and basically had my life thrown into a tailspin. 

Following that I suffered years of mental ill health and substance abuse to which I honestly thought I would never recover. I am currently living with mental illness, and am able to live a happy and purposeful life. Following and during these turmoil years I worked in not-for-profit, call centres and even started my own business. But Corporate Marketing was calling me back!

I returned to corporate marketing in mid-2014, 4 years after my ruptured aneurysm. A long journey back to where I was prior to my injury, I would even say "I had to fight to get there". 4 years of my life taken away simply to re-build and return to where I was...

In 2015 I found a role that I loved as Global Marketing Manager reporting into a Director. One step closer to the top I thought, I'm going to get there. My career goal when I first started in Marketing in 2001 was to be a CMO - big dreams for a Marketing Assistant!

I worked hard in this new role, progressed quickly and kept making moves in the right direction. I loved the role, loved my team which grew from 1 direct report to 6 and enjoyed every minute of this challenging and rewarding role. In mid-2017 I was made redundant as a result of a business transformation project.

I saw it coming as I knew the structure was changing, but it never feels nice either way. I took a 3 month #careerbreak and put my energy into revisiting my passion projects. I worked on my side-hustle as a mentor and writer and began writing a book, I wrote more blogs, contacted more organisations and found myself a speaking engagement for International Women's Day 2018 (coming up soon!!). I helped promote the charity I work with, Streethearts and looked into redoing my Lifeline training to become a telephone crisis volunteer.

I was sad for a minute, but soon remembered I had recovered from much worse and chose to focus my energy on what I loved.

I ended up contracting for a tech business to assist with an event coming up at the end of 2017 which kept me busy and got my mind back into my Marketing world which i was craving. Fast forward a few months, and I'm now CMO and still working on all the things I love - charity, mentoring, working with children and promoting mental good health.

HOW? Leaving my corporate role was the worst and best thing that happened to me. It forced me out of my comfort zone and I had to find what made me truly happy. I found that, focused on solely that for a few months then went back into marketing - which I equally love. 

My employer is flexible and I'm able to spend time on my passion projects as well as run a tight-ship Marketing Strategy for this amazing tech business too. Can I do it all? Heck yeah and so can you. You just have to get out of your comfort zone (that's the hard part!).

I know it's not the typical journey or how you think it happens out of high school, but for whatever reason, it all works out in the end. Grateful for life's challenges - thank you for steering me to where I needed to go.