CEO shares how she has ‘chosen to challenge’ on International Women’s Day

  • 8 March 2021

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CEO Sharon Allen in a bright summery dress in green, blue, pink and white, smiling at the Hospice's Reception

Our CEO, Sharon Allen, shares some of her personal experience and thoughts on International Women’s Day, on the theme #ChooseToChallenge

“I can be changed by what happens to me, but I refuse to be reduced by it.” Maya Angelou

This year’s International Women’s Day is a day to celebrate women’s rights, where progress has been made and acknowledge that there still there is much to do. The theme is #ChooseToChallenge. Reflecting on the challenges in my career, I’d like to share three personal challenges I have faced (of many!):

Proving to myself and others I could do it

1. The first is that, due to family background and thinking about women’s place at the time, University was not on the radar for me as a young woman. This challenged my confidence in seeking career progression, thinking I wasn’t clever enough as well as missing out on important formative experience. I chose to challenge by proving to myself and others I could do it.

Never give in or up

2. This challenge repeated some year’s later when I was working in supported housing and wanted to complete the Chartered Institute of Housing qualification and become a member. My application to complete the Foundation level programme was refused because I did not have a First Degree (my Social Work qualification was the Certificate of Qualification in Social Work, the qualification at the time). Unwilling to accept this, I challenged, was accepted, completed the qualification, went to complete a Degree in Housing Studies achieving First Class Honours (and subsequently completed an MBA with the University of Bradford). Never give in or up.

Listen and learn constantly

3. The third challenge was as a new manager turning an organisation around. Whilst initiating changes (all things that the women and children using the service and the team had requested) which were enthusiastically embraced; six months in I began to experience resistance from the team. This perplexed me because I was instigating change they told me they wanted – that is until I realised that I was changing things too quickly and frequently, creating a sense of shifting sand. I learned that I needed to let change bed in before moving to the next, to create a sense of foundation and continuity. Listen and learn constantly.

We are so proud to have Sharon leading our organisation and thank her for openly sharing these personal examples. Proving to ourselves we can do it, never giving up or in and listening and learning – three things we can all benefit from taking on board, not just today – but every day!