This is a man’s world…or is it?

November 2, 2015 by in category I'm Not John with 0 and 0
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Alison McKenzie-Folan is the director of customer transformation at Wigan Council – having worked her way up the career ladder through the civil service and now local government.

She puts her success down to the inspirational leaders – both men and women – she’s met along the way and the love and support of her family.

Now she is supporting the #imnotjohn campaign along with hundreds of others across the North West.

In 1966, James Brown sung “this is man’s world.” I think fifty years ago he was probably right, but times have changed.

Twenty five years ago I secured my first job as a HM Inspector of Factories after graduating. At that time it wasn’t a typical female profession and it was dominated by men.

It was my job to keep employees safe by educating employers about the importance of health and safety in the workplace and where necessary enforcing the law.

The majority of management were male and some viewed me as an obstacle to “getting on with the job”. My preferred style was always to persuade rather than enforce, but in many cases I did feel my gender prevented them from taking me seriously based on how they treated me.

You’d think that would deter me, but if anything it spurred me on! I was passionate and committed to keeping people safe and preventing people from injuring or killing themselves – I wasn’t going to let them stop me from doing a good job.

After working as an inspector for some years I decided to pursue opportunities that would help me to grow and develop. It was my male manager who spurred me on and who believed in me.

From that point I had the confidence and was proactive in seeking these opportunities, always wanting to learn new skills and gain experience. Some of my most memorable experiences have been to watch others grow and become successful and to know that I was able support them in their journey through my own experiences.

I know first-hand how taking on a bigger role early in your career can feel scary. When I was promoted to deputy director of HR, it wasn’t without its challenges but it was a great learning curve. I had to work hard to establish my credibility in what was quite a macho male dominated environment.

I think everyone’s had bad experiences regardless of their gender, but I think its best not to dwell on them and instead learn from then and move on. I believe a negative mind will never give you a positive life.  

I don’t think my gender has prevented me from getting me to where I want to be. I honestly believe that anyone can achieve anything they want to if they put their mind to it.

Of course as a woman I think I’ve had to prove myself – but I don’t know if that’s down to my own strong work ethic or the perceptions of others.  

My advice to others would be don’t be limited by you own self-doubts and be brave. Even if you think you can’t do it, you probably can but find your support mechanisms and use them – whether they be friends, family or work colleagues.

Make sure you take time out when you need to and always put yourself forward for new opportunities.

Life’s about learning and seeking new opportunities and always putting in 100 per cent. I’m passionate about learning and managed to complete my masters degree and chartered fellowship in CIPD while working full time – proving that anyone can do it. You need to learn to improve and bring that learning to life in your role.

Lastly, feel the fear and do it anyway. Pocket your self-doubt somewhere else and work hard.

To find out more about #imnotjohn click here.

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