Turn back to 2015, I’m a size 8, Karen Millen wearing uber sharp suited boss lady on a mission. I’d been nominated by my boss for an European Award I’m in a swanky hotel in London with other likeminded women. It’s like an episode of the apprentice all wheely suitcases and high heels power walking down the road to a posh hotel “The Ham Yard” ready for our judging.
I had my presentation down (all thanks to the book I read on the train) Only problem was my plan to get a decent night sleep was ruined by the fact I was staying in a hotel room in the middle of Leicester square above a 24hr kebab shop. Eau de doner meat was not the fragrance I was after that day!
Anyway back to the ham yard, my job is done, presentation over and I’ve been the best I could have been. I wouldn’t win anyway but it was a good experience.
Fast forward to June 15, the awards presentation evening. Another swanky London hotel, hubby has tagged along for the ride – I’m getting my hair and makeup done and another slinky dress has made an appearance. I’ve even had a spray tan for the occasion!
This is it – my category “Best woman QS in Europe” is up. I’m politely clapping away when stark reality hits me that she said my name. ME. I won it? Out of 8 women and I won?! Never did I think I could actually win. Little did I know this moment would be the start of one EPIC year!
At the end of that month I found myself back in London, invited by the CEO to present at the stock exchange to potential investors of a billion £ construction company (no pressure!!) The presentation was a huge success – to celebrate the CEO took us for cocktails on the rooftop bar of madison in London Bank overlooking St Paul’s. Wow.
Then there was the next, the request to travel the U.K. Presenting with the CEO again to all our colleagues – 5,500 of them! We flew to Aberdeen, Birmingham, London, Leeds, Manchester and Cardiff. It was just such fun – our little roadshows family. Eating dinner with the CEO and directors – feeling uber important.
Following the success of these roadshows the CEO decided the current team for innovations weren’t presenting to our standard so at the last minute requested we travel back to London within days to present at the City Hall. An innovation evening was being held with fellow innovators and company owners! We had fancy lighting and music and all eyes were on us. We smashed it again – so drinks flowed afterward at the rooftop overlooking tower bridge and a cocktail was had at the shard to unwind after a hard day!
Following this run of presentations I was selected to be part of only 1 in 24 people out of 5,500 on a fast track director programme within the business. (I will come back to this later!)
By the September 15?I had been promoted and all my hard work was paying off, we were trying for a baby but taking it slowly.I was asked to return to my university in Wolverhampton to present the award which I won back in 2011 “best woman in construction” to the new winner. It was there that I got to meet George Clarke from channel 4…!!
I started my director training late October – I then discovered I was pregnant. I would be unable to complete the training programme and therefore had to make the difficult decision to drop out of the programme.
December 15 – 150 anniversary awards and dinner were being held at the Tower of London. I got to purchase a ball gown and dress up – but at 6 weeks pregnant I felt very sick and couldn’t enjoy the fun! That day I had been asked to have photos taken to feature in the company annual report for 2015. I went to a studio loft in Shoreditch London and spent 1hr being shot by a business photographer – what an amazing end to a successful year!!!
That’s it – I’m pregnant. One opportunity already given up – it felt like my career would be over now. Until May 16. 33 weeks pregnant. I’m invited again by the CEO to present in London. To the Confederate of British industry. We were fortunate to be invited to their full meeting, Im sitting with leaders and Directors of the UKs biggest construction companies! At 33 weeks pregnant I presented and received such praise and thanks for not going into labour!
So how would I maintain my career whilst becoming a mum?
I was offered a place to sit on the UK board of the QSI as a fellow. Adding further letters to the end of my name! This was something I could do whilst on maternity leave right?
July 16 – Max is born. My whole world changes in an instant. All these fancy work trips and promotions stand for nothing now he is here. My brain feels as though it has turned to mush and how do I ever regain all the confidence I had before? Do I even want all of that anymore?
I’m scared about what my future career looks like but for now. I have the best job in the world – being a mum.