Top tips to take control of your career

Interview with Alison McGregor, CEO of HSBC at WIBF Edinburgh Event, August 2017

Interview with Alison McGregor, CEO of HSBC at WIBF Edinburgh Event, August 2017

⭐️ Take Control of your Career

This week I saw an inspiring interview with Alison McGregor talking about her career at the Women in Banking and Finance event at RBS Gogarburn, Edinburgh.  Although she sees herself as a non-risk taker, Alison’s career can be summed up as a series of bold decisions from leaving school at 15 to her current role as CEO of HSBC Scotland.  Her insights include:

  • Change is good because it brings opportunities.
  • You grow when you are taken out of your comfort zone. Challenges teach you much more than easy situations do.
  • Get an ‘interfering mentor’ who will push and challenge you, help you to know what makes you stand out and help you make good decisions.
  • Look the part and behave the part of the role or person you want to be, and people will treat you accordingly.
  • Be strategic (for senior roles, it can be detrimental to your progression / time if you are constantly helping people with the details).
  • Recognise and respect your life stages – integrate your career and life plans so you don’t feel compromised.Eg when being a mum is your no. 1 priority, it is ok to resist suggestions from work for promotion that would compromise your ability to be a mum. Or negotiate the promotion to fit around your priorities or to increase your salary to enable your partner to reduce work hours to share parenting.
  • Once a year do a “Wheel of life” so you can see why your life feels bumpy and set goals to even it out. It makes you reflect and think about what you want.  Click here to get a wheel of life tool.
  • When you feel unable to take a risk, think “What’s the worst that can happen? This isn’t brain surgery. Nobody died – at least not at my hands.”
  • Prepare for the next role you want to do so that when you apply for it, you are the best person for the job.
  • To progress to more senior roles, develop your ability to influence outside your sphere of influence.You won’t have direct influence yet you need to be able to shape direction and activities without telling people what to do.
  • If someone wants you in a job and the job description doesn’t suit you, change the job description. You can add value to the new team or organisation this way before you even start.


Do you want to raise your game; choose your career direction and progress; feel more fulfilled; reduce stress and compromise; or improve your ‘work / life balance’?  Send me an email to be sent advance notice to register for my new open programme on Take control of your career.  After excellent feedback from the in-house staff sessions, the online programme is nearly ready for launch.  As it includes live sessions and Q&A conversations, numbers in the group must be kept low.  Anyone on the priority advance notice list will have first chance to register and grab a place before they’re all gone.

Email or call me to arrange a time for a free chat about whether 1:1 coaching or some of our training programmes will give you the impetus you are looking for.

Sue Mitchell    email:  telephone +44 1875 830708  or  use the contact form below – please make sure you spell your email address correctly for me to be able to reply to you.

Confidence can close the Gender Gap – for pay, promotion and possiblities

Confidence is something you can learn and you get it by taking action. Our programme gives you the process and practical tools to be more confident. When you raise your confidence, you raise your game not only in your career but in all parts of your life. You deserve it. What is it worth to you? What difference will it make for you – in work and out of work?

Despite all the regulation around equality, there is still a huge disparity between women and men at work. Women now tend to get better results in school and university, but in the workplace, men are often more successful, and women become a minority in more senior management, executive and board roles. Researchers conclude that confidence lies at the root of many typical differences in behaviour that play a part :

  • Women tend to wait until they are 100% certain they are a perfect fit for all the criteria before applying for a position. In contrast, men will typically apply when they have only some of the requirements.
  • Women often find it hard to fully believe in themselves. Successful women often say they feel like an imposter, that someone will ‘find them out’, that they are not really good enough for this role, or that they were lucky, in the right place and the right time to get the role. In contrast, a man will often say he got the role because he was the best person for it.
  • Women often give themselves a hard time for not living up to their expectations (especially when ‘only perfect will do’) and will often take poor results personally rather than recognising that external circumstances could have played a part too.
  • Men are more likely to negotiate a higher salary: men initiate negotiations four times as often as women do, and even when women do negotiate, they tend to ask for 20%-30% less than men ask for.
  • Women often underestimate their competence, are less confident in their abilities, and are more likely to turn down opportunities even though they are equally capable as their male colleagues who seek out the opportunities.
  • Women more often believe that if we keep our heads down, work hard and deliver excellent results, we will be rewarded. That worked well in school and university to get good grades and praise. Sadly, it doesn’t often work in the workplace to gain recognition, promotion, salary raises or other measures of your success. As one of my 1:1 coaching clients put it “It’s not fair. My boss is putting my colleague forward for promotion just because he talks more about his work. My boss acknowledges that the quality of my work is far higher than my colleague, but he doesn’t see me as being ready for promotion. You should be promoted on quality of your work not politicking about it.” We’ve worked on how she communicates authentically about the strategic importance of her work, so that her boss sees her as ready for promotion and she doesn’t feel like it is smarmy politicking. New opportunities have come her way.

Do you recognise any of those behaviours in yourself? Are you holding yourself back? Do you want that to change? If so, why not take action now and

  1.  Decide to become more confident and
  2.  Join our Confidence for Professional Women Programme
  3.  or Join the online Confidence Programme with 1:1 coaching to encourage you, give you impetus and challenge you when you need it.

Stop feeling afraid of presenting
You can step up to speak in meetings or in public

Stop holding yourself back
You can negotiate your promotion, pay rise or that new role
Stop avoiding difficult conversations and feedback
You can handle them
Stop feeling so stressed at work
You can manage all the change in your organisation
Stop feeling like someone will ‘find you out’
You can be confident in your abilities and competence
You can be confident about being you

by using the proven and powerful process you learn in the

Confidence for Professional Women Programme


Book your place now or

Email or call me to arrange a time for a confidential chat about whether the programme or 1:1 coaching will give you the impetus you are looking for.

Sue Mitchell    email:  telephone +44 1875 830708  or  use the contact form below – please make sure you spell your email address correctly for me to be able to reply to you.

Three tips to improve your focus in 2016

Do you find you have a to-do list that extends in all directions? Do you have great ideas but never have time to make them happen? It’s hard not to feel overwhelmed and it’s hard to focus on a few priorities in a world full of possibilities. Being focused requires dedication and commitment, one of the core components for Mental Toughness – which helps you be more successful in life. Here are some tips to help you focus on what really matters to you.


  1. Clarify what is most important to you – personally and to your organisation. Review your values and identify your top 5 non-negotiable core values, the examples of when you live these values and examples of how you don’t live these values and can do better. When you are living and working in harmony with your core values, you are more energised, motivated and effective. When your values are conflicted, you tend to become more stressed and disillusioned.


  1. Review all the possibilities you have on your plate at the moment. Identify your top 3 priorities, that align with your values, your strengths and your personal motivators – and in work context, that align with your role and organisational priorities.


  1. Keep a log of how you spend your time. How often are you doing things that contribute towards your priorities (the important quadrant in Steven Covey’s Important/Urgent matrix)? How often are you living your values? How often are you reacting to other people’s priorities that get in the way of your own priorities? How happy are you with the way you are spending your time? What do you want to do about it and what will that achieve? (Doing nothing is an option too – it also has consequences.)



Steven Covey’s Important / Urgent Matrix.

(Abridged from The Seven Habits of Effective People, by Steven Covey).


This is probably familiar to many of you and for those of you who haven’t yet come across it: Effective people organise and execute their activities around priorities and aim to stay out of quadrants 3 and 4 and ideally mainly in quadrant 2. Looking at your activities, where do they mainly fall. Which is/are your dominant quadrant(s)? What can you do to act mainly in quadrants 2 and 1, and spend more time doing things that are important and not urgent.


The results you get in life when your activities dominantly fall in each one of these quadrants are shown below.

Steven Covey's Important vs Urgent Quadrants

Steven Covey’s Important vs Urgent Quadrants


Which quadrant are you spending most of your time in?

How happy are you with the results you are generating as a result?

How easily can you make the changes you want?

If you want support to make changes, please do get in touch. Let’s see whether coaching will be the right support for you to make those changes and if we would work well together.



Email or call me to arrange a time for a free chat about whether 1:1 coaching will give you the impetus you are looking for.

Sue Mitchell    email:  telephone +44 1875 830708  or  use the contact form below – please make sure you spell your email address correctly for me to be able to reply to you.