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Leadership: Finding your Voice – Ladies that UX November

The November edition was focused on helping Ladies to find their confidence to become a leader. Hosted at the lovely Just Giving offices in Southwark, we were greeted with drinks and nibbles on arrival.

Chaired by the brilliant Bernice Tuckey, the panel of ladies included:

– Leslie Fountain, MD of Foolproof

– Sarah Ronald, MD and Founder of Nile

– Abi Fawcus, Design Director at Infotex

Each of the ladies shared their own personal journey – they told us tales of what has inspired them over the years, explained some of the obstacles they have encountered throughout and gave their audience some extra tips for developing their leadership skills.

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Sarah gave us the first talk, her main lesson was that ‘it is ok to fail, as long as you can be fine with it‘. Her top tip for ladies looking to move into leadership roles, or even be more comfortable in the space they’re already in was to ‘be authentic and you can do anything you want to

The second talk came from Abi who told us ‘it is our experiences and our passions that make us who we are‘ and that we should be mindful that going along the normal route ‘isn’t necessarily right‘. Her main aim in her work life is to ‘inspire, guide and nurture

The 3 main tips to take away from Abi’s talk were:

1) Start now! Take on new challenges, learn new things and start today

2) Speak up! No one can do this for you – it is important to challenge, suggest and encourage others in order to succeed

3) Don’t get stuck! Try something new and take a few risks – know your superpowers!

Finally, Leslie explained to a captive audience how there isn’t one single approach to leadership, but that you have to explore your own competencies and find your natural strengths as a leader. Leslie highlighted the fact that has been involved in lots of sports when growing up and to this day, and she eventually realised that it was a brilliant way to bring people together and to help others reach their potential.

Leslie also (usefully!) recommended a book that inspires confidence called ‘The Confidence Code‘ (by Katty Kay and Claire Shipman) which she personally found very helpful.

A great tip from Leslie is that you should ‘step outside your comfort zone in order to learn‘. She elaborated on this, explaining that one of the mantras that she follows in her role as MD of Foolproof is ‘Stop, Listen, Understand, Think, Articulate

3 really helpful bits of advice to take away from Leslie’s discussion are:

1) Find what it is you’re passionate about

2) Find your voice and have open communications with everyone you work with

3) Have the courage to try new things & have the courage to make mistakes

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Following the fantastic talks from the three ladies in the panel, the floor was opened for questions which gave everyone a chance to ask some great questions. This was a really collaborative discussion with many interesting questions including ‘do you have to be a natural born leader?’, ‘can you still get your hands dirty with UX work even in a leadership role?’ and ‘can you have a work/life balance and be a leader?’. I don’t know about the other ladies but we were definitely feeling empowered by the end of the event!

Thanks to Ladies that UX for organising another fantastic (and sold out) event, and to the Just Giving team for providing the lovely venue, drinks and nibbles.

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