To celebrate International Women's Day, this week we are putting the spotlight on inspiring women in digital leadership roles. In this instalment, our own inspiring leader, Forward Role’s first-ever female Associate Director Rachel Wheeler, chatted with Lauren Clark, Chief Commercial Officer at Blackcircles
1. Please can you provide an overview of your role?
I am responsible for the development and management of the overarching business plan & leading a team to ensure we achieve the sales & profit targets. Heading up all commercial agreements with partners & leading a team responsible for partner sales development and maximising sales across the Group by sharing best practice.
2.What are the biggest challenges you have faced in your career?
Adapting to changes in business direction, pace and ways of working through the pandemic. This was an incredibly challenging time across most business and forced you both as individuals and as a team to find solutions to new challenges and look at everything through a new lens.
On a more personal level, working in male dominated industries at times has been a challenge, particularly at the start of my career simply because there were fewer female role models and all senior roles were held by men. It made me work harder to prove myself and as I progressed in my career I realised it was down to you as an individual to drive your success. Happily though this landscape is evolving and the industries are very different now to when I first started out.
3. Let’s be more positive! What are your biggest success stories?
I've been lucky to work for some great companies in my career so far who have championed internal promotions & I was delighted to be made a director by the time I was in my early thirties. I also love to see the achievements of those people I've managed or mentored and to see their successes is such a reason to celebrate - I truly believe you get nowhere without being part of a brilliant team.
4. What advice would you give to women who aspire to get to the top of their game?
Work hard, shake off that imposter syndrome and take the time to listen to & empathise with those around you. You can learn something from everyone.
5. What factors do you think have caused a gender imbalance in the workplace, specifically amongst Senior Leadership, Board and C-suite roles? What do you think we can do to overcome these challenges?
In previous generations it was common for only 1 parent to work (often the father) and naturally men then occupied these C-suite roles & didn't have the awareness of how difficult it can be to juggle work and a 50:50 parenting role. Due to these pre-defined 'gender' roles, women who chose not to have a family & instead focussed on their careers were viewed unfavourably and again had to work harder to prove themselves as equals within the workspace.
Unfortunately many companies still struggle to offer a full solution for working parents and when returning to work following maternity leave many women cannot work the same hours/commit as much time to work resulting in them missing out on career opportunities as companies view them as less committed or 'available' as men in the same situation. Happily many companies are actively finding solutions to facilitate these needs and it is much more commonplace now to see parents sharing parental leave but also, almost more importantly, sharing the longer term childcare commitments meaning there are flexible work options for everyone dependent on your situation.
6.Lastly, what does International Women’s Day mean to you?
It's a moment in everyone's busy calendar to reflect on how far we've come but equally how far we still have to go. I think it has opened up a wider conversation about flexibility for everyone which can only be a positive, we now just need this to become the norm rather than the exception.
At Forward Role, we help some of the UK's biggest and most exciting employers to attract the brightest talent and empower candidates to build exciting careers, if you are looking to hire talent or take the next step in your career- get in touch!