10 Aug Resilience – an energy within
What tools do we need in our toolkit to build and exercise our resilience muscle? And how do we not just bounce back from challenges at work and at home, but bounce forward?
That was the topic of a fascinating and inspiring event in July organised by POWERful Women and Lean in Energy, moderated by Rita Hausken and featuring the resilience stories of four amazing women:
- Rita Hausken, Lean in Energy, Europe Community Lead (MODERATOR)
- Anika Ephraim, a Non-Executive Director and Board Trustee
- Dr Charlotte Starkmann, Management Consultant and Founder of Energise Consultancy; and
- Lamé Verre, Founder of Alaric & Associates, and Trustee and Treasurer at the Uganda Conservation Foundation.
The webinar was attended by over 50 women from our networks, joining us from across the UK and around the world, including India, Israel and the USA.
As Rita of Lean In Energy explained, the event was born when she and Maria Blakley of POWERful Women discovered their very similar experiences of juggling successful careers while caring for children with special needs, and wanted to share the value of personal resilience with women in the energy sector, to empower them to achieve their ambitions.
Resilience is a soft skill that the aspiring women in our networks have told us they want to learn more about and indeed consider essential as they climb the career ladder in an energy sector that is undergoing significant change. And it’s inevitable that many of us will encounter unexpected moments of adversity throughout our personal and professional lives – from health issues and relationship breakdown to redundancies and conflicts in the workplace. Building resilience can help us overcome this. And as we emerge from the Coronavirus pandemic, it’s even more important – can resilience help us find opportunities as well as cope with challenges ahead?
In their presentations the panellists told us what part resilience had played in their career, what was in their ‘resilience toolkit’ and which tool they take out most often.
Lamé, an energy finance and commercial executive with over 20 years’ experience working around the globe, and now running her own consultancy, described how a singular decision at the start of her career to do a post-graduate in a foreign country, far from home, in a foreign language, with no family or friends, taught her the power of saying yes when opportunities knock. Lamé‘s toolkit is the belief that everything will be OK and the ability to find opportunities in every situation. She recommends playing the long game and focusing on the big picture. And another important resilience strategy for her is self-awareness – knowing when you need help and leaning into your support network.
Self-care is in Charlotte’s toolkit too. A former petroleum engineer with Shell, Charlotte now specialises in advising senior executives through complex and difficult change. She explained how knowing your purpose is absolutely vital when faced with challenges. Then you can boost your energy when things are tough by reaching out to others for support, from friends and family to peers and new professional contacts. It’s important to constantly replenish your energy levels by focussing on your physical, emotional, mental and spiritual needs.
Anika has experienced working in the male-dominated energy and automotive industries on three continents and in a variety of roles, from engineering to sales. In facing her own challenges, she has found it helpful to think of change as opportunity. Naturally always looking for solutions, she advocates the power of a positive frame of mind and self-belief. And she recommends that an effective way to build and exercise our resilience muscle is to share your issues with people you care about and actively invite their advice and perspective.
In the break-out sessions that followed, women shared their own experiences of when resilience was required and what strategies have helped. With redundancies happening in many sectors, including energy, some women were already experiencing crises and uncertainties in their careers. They discussed their tips, including the need to remember it’s the role that’s being made redundant not the person – words matter.
Other advice included:
- Have your own ‘personal board of directors’ and ‘personal cheerleaders’ for advice and support
- Build your confidence by taking stock of your own skillset, including soft skills
- Engage in voluntary roles and responsibilities to utilise your skills and maintain your sense of purpose beyond paid working life
- Be flexible – so that you don’t break
- Trust your intuition
- Practise self-care through meditation, reading, watching movies – it’s important to switch off.
- Pause to let the wave pass – there will be good days and bad days and it’s ok to stop and then start again tomorrow
- Remember that building resilience is a journey
- Celebrate the small things to regain your positivity.
For many women, the pandemic has meant that career plans have changed or been put on hold, or they’ve had to juggle working from home and caring responsibilities. Many feel a loss of control and frustration. Accepting that things can’t be done in the same way any more is important. Instead, focus on the things you can control, and then take small steps towards them.
Resilience isn’t about denying the reality of the situation – it’s learning how to deal with it. As one participant put it: “the wind is blowing and our little boat is getting rocked, we can’t change that external environment, but we can still control how we set our sails.”
Thank you to our panellists and all the participants for sharing their stories with candour and positivity, and a willingness to help other women in energy equip themselves for change.
The positive feedback after the event showed that it was hugely welcome at this time: “Being at home means less interaction with people and having a community where you can share ideas helps keep me sane”. And that online events have their advantages: “I loved being in a breakout group with someone from Texas, someone from Denmark and someone from London!”
This event was part of POWERful Women’s work to support women’s career progression and we are fortunate to work with a number of brilliant partner organisations like Lean In Energy, the leading mentoring community in energy worldwide.
For more useful resources on the topic of resilience: