After a three-year hiatus, Generation Women returned to the stage last week to celebrate women rising. In a sell-out show at Belfast’s Black Box, we gathered together women from diverse sectors and industries to share their personal success stories and offer insight and inspiration to an amazing audience from Belfast and beyond. 

If you missed the event, then don’t worry. We’ve pulled together some key takeaways that will help empower you to blaze your trail to the top. In this piece, we’ll hear from five amazing graduates from our Career Elevator program. Each one found themselves at a career crossroads before taking control and shaping their own story. We’re incredibly proud of what these women have accomplished, so, let’s hear their thoughts on crafting a career you love. 

On Challenging Limiting Beliefs…

If there is one thing we see time and again, it’s women who do amazing work; build teams, increase turnover and create innovative solutions for their companies all without giving themselves the credit they deserve. As women, we often get the job done and keep our heads down. Claire Sullivan, Head of Policy at CBI, told us “I didn’t realise that what I was bringing was my unique capabilities. My talent. I dismissed that.” After completing the Career Elevator program, Claire leaned into her talent, understood that she brought more than what was listed on a job spec, and started to “own that.” Now Claire takes a seat at some of the most impressive tables, shaping policy alongside global business leaders and heads of state. As Sinead said: “Start paying attention to your strengths!” These are what will help you climb the mountain. 

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On Advocating For Yourself…

For many of the women on our panel, advocating for themselves and the work they do was one of the biggest hurdles they had to overcome. It’s one thing identifying your strengths and knowing your worth, but talking about that is often where we stumble. As women, we’re often taught to be humble and self-effacing, which makes shouting about our skills and achievements incredibly challenging.

For Hannah Lynch, an associate at the law firm Flynn O’Driscoll, leaning into what made her unique and talking about that not only helped her land a dream job but to create something totally unique. “I love fashion and make-up and had been told by former colleagues that it was frivolous. I had been working in construction law and realised that cement and wood weren’t that different from silk and sequins.” Hannah went on to found Ireland’s first fashion law office. She now works with major brands and influencers, combining her core skills and her passion. The lesson? Don’t hide your light, talk about your work, your ambitions and your goals – be your own advocate. You never know what might be possible!

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On The Value Of A Personal Brand…

If you’ve been in one role for a long time, it’s often hard to separate yourself from the job you do. That’s why Generation Women place a lot of emphasis on defining your personal brand. Business analyst, Ellie McBeth spent the majority of her career working in the public sector. After a successful career, she hit a ceiling and wanted a new challenge. “One of the things that resonated with me most from the programme was being visible and building a brand. I was told not to leave my public sector job and move into the private sector. But, once I got past the jargon, I realised I had tons of transferable skills.”

Not only did Ellie make the move, but she retained her self-belief and made herself more visible within the organisation. “I joined events for women in tech, hosted panels…I made an effort to be visible and show people who I am and what I can do.” In a matter of months, Ellie was promoted and nominated for a Future Leader Award. So, take a leaf out of Ellie’s book – get yourself in front of people, make conversation with colleagues, organise events – let your team see the best of you. 

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On Sparking Joy…

‘Why’ we do the job we do is more important than we often realise. Many of the people who turn to the Career Elevator program aren’t dissatisfied with their careers, but they’ve lost that connection to their initial passion and motivation. For Karen McComb, it was personal tragedy, that led her to re-evaluate what she wanted from her career and working with Sinead developed a whole new mindset. “Life is short. Life is hard enough. Find what it is you value. Discover joy! Find joy in the hardest, more boring times – it’s there!” No job is perfect 100% of the time and as we all know, with great power, comes great responsibility, That shouldn’t stop us from finding joy in our day. These are the moments that will fuel us forward.

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On Speaking Your Mind…

Finding the courage to share what is on your mind isn’t always easy, but the more we communicate our thoughts and ideas, the more confidence we gain in ourselves. Confident communication is a key focus of the Career Elevator programme. Charmain Filmer, head of training and quality is a prime example of what happens when you’re liberated from the fear of speaking your mind. “Always speak up. You need to start finding your voice and saying what is on your mind. If you don’t agree, you don’t agree. That. Is. Fine! You move on.” We often have this fear of saying the wrong thing, or of upsetting a colleague if we disagree. But, in not speaking up, we make ourselves small. Say what you think – if you’re wrong, you’re wrong; if you disagree, then so be it. Ask yourself, what’s the worst that can happen? 

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If you were inspired by any of our speakers and want to take your career to the next level then give Sinead a call. The 14-week Career Elevator Program could be exactly what you need. 

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