Twinterview: Finding inspiration and always focusing on what you can do

On 8th March 2019 Susan will be the host of the IoD NI Women's Leadership Conference in Belfast. In this Twinterview, IoD NI asks her all about what women can do to thrive in business.

I recently did a Twinterview with the Institute of Directors Northern Ireland (IoD Northern Ireland, @IoDNI on Twitter) about what it means to be a woman in business, how to thrive and prosper, and how to overcome the inevitable setbacks. I will be the host of the IoD NI Women's Leadership Conference, taking place on 8th March 2019 in Belfast. 

I share my experience of being Managing Director of a group of brands and what I learned through my years in business: how to find inspiration and what it means to me to be a "Savvy Woman". Enjoy!


Tell us more about your many roles and an insight into what a typical day entails?

That's something I love about being at the helm of a company: no two days are the same! When I was a teenager, and even before then, I dreamed of travelling internationally for work. Today it's a reality!

If you're interested, find out more about Savvy Teen Academy, the transformative four-day experience that helps teenagers imagine and create their dream future by focusing on Careers, Communication and Confidence.

Read more about how I structure my thinking time.



Successful business women


You've had a very successful and varied career to date. Who, or what, has inspired you the most?

Finding and cultivating inspiration is essential to your sense of purpose and happiness. I've had many sources of inspiration: I always look out for people to look up to. Finding role models to emulate will accelerate your success.



You're described as a 'positive economist'. What does that mean and how can others learn from it?

Focus on what you can do is my mantra and my core message. We each have our own very personal path in life. We won't all have the same resources or opportunities, and we won't all be faced with the same challenges. No matter where you are, no matter how impossible it seems: focus on the first step. Focus on the one thing you can do in your current situation. There is always something you can do, even if you're not sure how it will take you where you want to go.

Related: How to create your own opportunities.

The one thing you can do today to reap immense benefits.



How can 'positive economics' influence the Brexit debate?

The Brexit debate seems to be mostly doom and gloom... But there is a lot that Irish businesses can do to mitigate the potential negative effects of Brexit.

Related: A Brexit Irish SWOT analysis (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats)



Throughout a career watching financial markets and economies across the globe, what key learning points from your experience, have you seen for businesses?

KPIs, Key Performance Indicators, are the key metrics that will give you the temperature of your business. When you know how to monitor them, and which ones to monitor, it is much easier to get a reliable picture of how your business is doing and where to focus your efforts. These are the KPIs I use in my own business: read about them here and here.

Not sure which KPI to choose? Take 5 minutes to choose one!



How do you make complex financial matters easily understood by a wider audience and is there a secret to it?

Complex financial matters only seem complex when they don't seem to relate to our experience. But they do impact our life: so there will always be a story to tell that will make these complex and abstract ideas more relatable.



You founded Savvy Women Online, but what does it mean to be a 'savvy woman'?

SMART goals! I live by them. Another system that has made me savvier is the GROW model: it's an amazing tool to work through any obstacle. And yes, each and every one of us is somebody else's role model: let us acknowledge and celebrate the fact that we are competent, that there are so many things we do well, and that there are people in our circle of family and friends who look to us for inspiration. 

On that theme, listen to my podcast with Roseann Kelly, Chief Executive of Women in Business Northern Ireland.



We're looking forward to hearing from you at the IoD Women's Leadership Conference in March. What can we expect?

I am so excited to talk about all the business and life lessons I learned. Rejection is a fact of life, and it can throw us off course unless we have strategies to deal with it productively. At the IoD NI Women's Leadership Conference I will be talking about neutralising the effect of rejection: how to overcome self-doubt and turbo-charge your success.

Related: Looking for inspiration? Sharpen your tools.



How has being a woman influenced your career to date?

Yes, finance is a predominantly male field, but that hasn't been a problem and it certainly never has prevented me from enjoying every moment of my dream career.



What role do you see for organisations such as the IoD in advancing the place of women in business?

When I see what my Savvy Teens are up to, I can't help but think that the future of business, and of women in business, is very bright! It's by sharing our stories and experience that we will spread best practices - as the Chinese proverb says, "If you want to know the road, ask those coming back." And as women in business, it is our most pleasant duty to make sure we are visible and that we share the lessons we have learned, so that others can benefit: for how could they be what they cannot see?



How much importance do you place on professional development in improving the success for women in business?

Professional development is a constant, it is a life-long endeavour, and it comes in a plethora of shapes and forms. Among many other things, I read a lot of books (watch my reviews here) and I deliberately seek out thought leadership.



What advice would you give to any women entering the business world for the first time or seeking to take their organisation to a new level?

Take the long view, and take the first step in faith: there is so much you will learn once you start doing. I wish you every success!



And it's a wrap!

The IoD Northern Ireland Women In Leadership Conference is a full-day event taking place on 8 March 2019 in Belfast. You can get your tickets here.

I'd love to hear your feedback by email email or on twitterTwitter

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