After graduating with an Accounting & Finance degree, I worked in a number of commercial finance roles before joining Foresight Group as a Finance Manager, working across our Environmental Funds. This role quickly developed into a commercially focused role with Profit & Loss oversight for the division after I identified, and successfully pitched, the potential business benefits of having dedicated resource overseeing this activity for the division – freeing up capacity within the senior management team while improving decision making through the provision of quality performance analytics. This opportunity enabled me to show what I was capable of and started me off on a journey of rapid progression through the organisation.
My role at Foresight has evolved since I joined in 2017. I predominantly oversee the Infrastructure team but as my role grows I’m working more comprehensively across the entire organisation. We listed on the London Stock Exchange in February 2021, and this has created challenges but also presented significant opportunities, particularly in the work I do on our corporate strategy, including mergers and acquisitions (M&A) and three-year planning. One of my strengths is spotting potential problems and understanding how and where we can make processes more efficient and effective.
Essentially my role is to constantly explore new commercial avenues for the business – be that organic or through Mergers & Acquisitions – and integrate new people. I’m overseeing the integration of our acquisitions, but I’m also working with our CFO and Executive Committee to plan for the long-term future of the business through the three-year planning process. There are a lot of plates to juggle during phases of rapid growth – both in terms of my personal journey and what’s happening in our organisation.
Is sensitivity a superpower?
One of my biggest strengths is that I’m good with people. Not everybody works in the same way or has the same goals and aspirations, and I appreciate that. I’m very conscious that when I come to somebody with an issue, I need to tailor the conversation to their experiences and how they might be feeling. It doesn’t matter if you’re working to improve an aspect of your business or trying to establish where a problem stems from, you’ll never succeed if you don’t understand the routines and frustrations of everyone in your organisation.
I believe that this sensitivity has been my secret weapon. I’m able to use this emotional intelligence within different areas of the business and through it form lasting relationships. This enables me to bring colleagues with me/us on our journey whilst reminding them that they’re valued members of the team.
It might have been different if I’d come in as a Director but joining as a Manager and working my way up caught people’s attention. People’s reactions were broadly very positive, but there’s always one or two who might find something negative to say.
Back to school
I got to where I am at Foresight by forever being on the lookout for problems that needed solving and trying to drive a positive outcome to each one. In doing so I feel like in many ways I built my own opportunities from the ground up. This became noticeable over time and was evidenced by my inclusion in regular meetings with our Executive Committee. I was receiving positive feedback, but I didn’t feel 100% happy and secure in my new role. It was, in many ways, a classic case of imposter syndrome.
These feelings coupled with my awareness of other people’s perceptions of my journey to Director were difficult to manage at times. I wanted to excel in my new role, and to be able to facilitate difficult conversations with confidence. In the end it was my line manager, Nigel, (who co-heads our Infrastructure team and sits on our Executive Committee), who suggested I might benefit from more leadership training and he identified the Women in Leadership programme at London Business School for me.