#SWAAYthenarrative

Why I Broke Out Of The Corporate World To Spend My Life Empowering Women

4 Min Read
Career

In January 2015, I reached a pivotal point in my life.

I had always dreamed of creating an international career working in business, traveling the world, meeting with interesting people, and making deals happen. However, the reality was I felt stuck in my job, working in corporate finance with no clear, let alone exciting, path ahead.

I knew I had to make a change but wasn't sure what my next step should be. So I made some bold moves and flew to Toronto to attend an intensive personal growth conference which proved to be life-changing.

Over the next 12 months, I made some even bolder decisions, I moved to London, reinvented myself and my career, and began working in a global advisory firm — traveling from Singapore to Sydney or Dubai to Delhi, advising CEOs on billion-dollar deals.

I had achieved my goals and become this great success on paper. I went from a small-town girl raised in Southern Ireland to a noted rising leader working at the heart of the finance industry. I was living proof that it doesn't matter where you come from, it only matters where you're going.

However, despite all this excitement, something wasn't right. Again, that feeling arose; I knew I had to make a change.

The one constant throughout my career, whether I was walking into bank meetings in Nigeria or meeting with advisors in New York, was that when I looked around, I found that I was the only woman in the room, again.

I was forced to adapt to an unwelcoming environment, in which I always felt out of place. Because of this, I quickly learned how to build unshakable self-confidence, influence global leaders and CEOs, and be successful even when it felt like the odds were stacked against me.

My career was accelerating and the path ahead to partnership looked clear.

However, in 2017, two years after that first pivotal moment in my life, those stirrings of change within me found a new direction. While sitting in a dimly lit event hall at a Bloomberg Women in Finance Summit in East London, one simple sentence shook me to my core: "At the current rate of progress, it will take 120 years for us to achieve gender equality."

At that moment, my entire career trajectory changed; I knew I had to do something to make a difference. I just couldn't accept that in the 21st century, women were still being held back for no other reason than their gender.

The path ahead was an uncertain one.

I began searching for ways to make a real difference for women. I didn't want to let them just sit at their desks and fall into the lip service that many diversity and inclusion initiatives have become.

My journey was certainly not a smooth one — there was a lot of push back at times — but it was one that brought undeniable lessons, incredible opportunities for growth, and set the path for what would ultimately become the foundation of my very own business.

Along the way, I co-chaired the Women's Network highlighting the profitability of parity in the workplace, I worked with senior leadership to influence their minds and awaken them to the reality of the imbalance that existed, often taking quite unconventional approaches to do so. One of my favorite methods was inviting senior male leaders to women's networking events at various banks around the city under the guise of a business networking event. This at least allowed them to walk in the shoes of a corporate woman for an evening and open their eyes to the fact that numbers really matter.

I mentored women in my company and across the finance industry to support them in their career progressions, using all the skills I had learned from my time working with personal development leaders over the years and the strategies I had developed to be successful as a woman in business.

All these efforts culminated with being recognized by the Financial Times as a Top 20 Future Female Leader and Yahoo! Finance as a Global Champion for Women in Business. I never sought out these awards, but the recognition enabled me to elevate the conversation to a global level and realize that this desire for change had truly become my mission in life.

My passion for supporting women and driving forward gender equality eventually became the driving force behind launching my own coaching business, committing full time to supporting women in business globally, whether they want to accelerate in their corporate career or breakout and turn their ideas into a successful business as I have done.

I continue to be a passionate advocate of women empowerment — supporting women in business and entrepreneurs. My desire to share this message with the greatest possible impact led me to retrain as a professional speaker, which has taken me around the world to speak on international stages including at Forbes Under 30 on the topic of entrepreneurship and gender inequality in business.

I work with women around the globe, from London to New York and Nigeria to New Zealand, all with the sole mission of enabling these ambitious women to express their highest potential, be it through accelerating in their career or stepping out of the corporate world to turn their idea into a business.

All of this was proof again, that it doesn't matter where you come from, it only matters where you're going. And I know I'm going the right way for me and for all women.

Creative DIY Tips for Making Your Own Calendar

The current state of the world definitely affected us in many ways, it made us stay locked up in our homes away from all the social events and seemingly fun stuff. But the responsibilities didn't just vanish into thin air, they are still there, waiting to be organized and prepared. Times are super hectic and you are probably not in the mood to think about the foreseeable future, but there are ways to turn in into a fun time. Starting a journal or making a simple calendar can bring you peace, use that creative time to yourself and relax while doing it. Grab your colored pencils, stickers, scraps, and everything in between, your inner DIY queen is about to jump out!

Fill in the blank

So probably the easiest way to start when it comes to making your own calendar is by simply printing a blank template found online. This way you'll have a base, a blank canvas if you will. Take all the materials that you have in your house, like washi tapes, sticky notes, glittery colorful pens and anything you can think of that could work as a decoration on your calendar. And go at it! There are no rules when it comes to decorating, it's super personal and it can differ from person to person.

The only real advice you'll need is to leave some space while decorating, don't overdo it since it will clutter and distract you from the written parts. Finding the perfect template that will suit your aesthetic is extremely easy and fast, a simple google search could get you whatever you want and the best part is, it's free! There are many printable options out there, so don't worry about not finding something you'd like, the possibilities are endless and you'll find just the right calendar you imagined!

Start from scratch

If you don't have a printer at home or you're just determined to make the calendar yourself, there are awesome ways to make the best and most unique personalized calendar there is. This gives you the full freedom to do whatever you can think of, want to make a calendar from old newspapers, do it! Want to cut out a certain shape and disguise the calendar as an art piece in your kitchen, why not?

Nothing is stopping you when it comes to unleashing your creative side, use everything that you can get your hands on, think outside the box, don't be afraid to experiment. Making a calendar from scratch is an amazing opportunity to explore your artistic side, especially if you've been busy with work and responsibilities. This is a great excuse to do something creative, at the end of the day you are making it for the purpose of being more organized and having everything mapped out and planned. So make this time, the best time possible, be free and create!

Mix and match

Since there are absolutely no rules when making any diy project at home, what's stopping you from making the ultimate, super personal calendar! If you have basic knowledge in photoshop, you can even modify the blank calendars you got online, add pictures of your loved ones and family, maybe your pets or anything you like, and then print it out. Or you can print the blank template right away and add pictures or polaroids later on by using some washi tape.

Also, you can even paint over the printed blank calendar, this is a good option for those who aren't as skilled, so you'll have a base to start, just dip in your paintbrush in some acrylic or watercolor paints (or whatever you have around the house) and go for it. This is a great way to start doing artsy projects while still having some form of direction and help.

Have fun

Sure keeping your priorities at bay and making plans and notes for everything is important...but the heart of this project has to be your willingness to turn something as boring and blank as a calendar into something spectacular. This calendar should proudly be up on your kitchen wall, so loud and colorful it just draws your attention to it.

If the calendar is decorated, personalized, and fun to look at, maybe it will inspire you to look forward to some events or responsibilities even if you didn't feel like it in the first place. So be creative and free, there are no rules so just go at it. With everything that happened this year, try to be positive and find little joys in seemingly insignificant things like diy calendars!