Navigating my career has been about focus. I have maintained a positive attitude and clarity on what I wanted to achieve and I haven't allowed anything to stop me...
Dear Future Self..
I would say don't hold back and dream big. Remember to think things through and don't rush ahead...
Tell us a bit about what you do?
I am a communication consultant and executive coach. I have worked as a PR and communication professional for just over 20 years. In 2014 I launched my business Lewis Communicate where I help business leaders and their teams become more engaging and impactful through communication. Over much of my career I have focused on strategic internal communications, employee engagement and communications for change programmes.
How have you been able to navigate your career as a Black woman in Britain?
Navigating my career has been about focus. I have maintained a positive attitude and clarity on what I wanted to achieve and I haven't allowed anything to stop me. This has meant getting the education and knowledge needed to work with excellence. I have always held to my values - it's important to remain true to who you are. Also, being curious about and thinking has helped me to stay current. My parents were positive forces and never limited me - they encouraged me to go after what I wanted and that I could do anything I set my mind to. All this along with a positive attitude and focus has carried me through over the years.
What is one of the biggest challenges you've faced in your life or career and how did you overcome it?
Over my career one of the biggest challenges has been juggling launching my business at a time when I was also caring for my elderly Dad who I moved back to the UK from Jamaica when he was unwell. He had worked here for a number of years and I spent a number of years in Jamaica attending high school and then working. so having to manage working on contracts and figuring out how best to provide care and support for him was challenging. Choosing to work for myself was a challenge in itself. I had a permanent job with TfL and felt that it was time to progress my career. The best way to do that was to move on and it was the right decision - I've gotten to work on a lot more and widen my career much further than if I'd stayed in house. The balance of looking after my father was difficult at first. There was a lot of planning and gaining as much information as possible was key. In terms of work I relied on my networks, developed my offering and was able to secure clients and some good pieces of work. The trick always was ensuring that I stayed on top of everything. Keeping up to date on what was happening in the industry was important and at the time I also continued working as a committee member of CIPR Inside - all key activities to maintain my presence in the industry. The whole time was challenging but incredibly rewarding. I learned so much in that time and although it was busy I would do it all again.
Do you have any practical tips for girls/women interested in pursuing a career in your particular field?
Learn everything you can about the industry you intend to work in. Remain focused and invest in your career. Get a coach and mentor - or at the very least strong people who can speak into your career and provide support. Be brave - go after what you want. Go as far as you can in your education. Reach out to people who have achieved what you're interested in for inspiration and advice. Keep a clear head and good attitude even when things are difficult. Don't give up on your dreams - you never know, success could be around the corner. Be kind to yourself - you are better than you think.
What's the best piece of advice you've ever received?
Never be afraid to ask for what you want, you might get a YES.
Our future starts now - with your experiences and everything you now know - what would you tell your future self?
To my future self I would say don't hold back and dream big. Remember to think things through and don't rush ahead without planning. Discover what you love most and pursue that with all your energy. I have done a lot and that's been great. I believe that being fearless earlier would have made a difference and taken me further. I am ambitious but taking that and setting big goals for years in the future - being intentional - would have made it even better.
What resources or book(s) would you recommend to a young woman wanting to level-up in her personal life or career?
The Little Black Book by Otegha Uwagba Poke the Box by Seth Godin, Year of Yes by Shonda Rhimes Do what you are: Discover the Perfect Career for you through the secret of personality type by Paul, Tieger, Barbara Barron, et al
Anything else you'd like to add?
Just that I would love to see as many young women as possible step into their purpose and realize their dreams so I would encourage you to go for it and don't hold back.