Representation

Now that I am Head of User Research and Analysis at GDS, and I have been thinking more about the importance of representation and I what I represent. I also wanted to expand on some of themes I was thinking about in my thoughts on leadership post. I think important to know who represents you in leadership and for people to see themselves in that leadership.

I am still working on my leadership mindset and I am reluctant to think of myself as a role model, but I would like to share some of who I am and how I got here because representation is important.

I am a shy, introverted, dyslexic, female. I have anxiety, I specialise in but am not limited to social anxiety — perhaps not qualities that leaders express about themselves. I am gender fluid (not 100% a cis gendered woman, nor 100% non-binary but somewhere in between and where I am on that spectrum changes) and I am pan sexual. I am a poster child for social mobility; I grew up on a housing estate in south east London in the 80s, my parents left school at 15 and 16 with 1 o-level between them. They came from working class families with no notion of having a career or doing something you were passionate about, you did the minimum amount of education legally required and then you got a job to pay the bills that was it. They wanted something different for their children and when I and my brothers were young they told us they’d support us in getting the education we needed to do the things we wanted with our lives. I took this to the extreme and left school at 26 with a BSc, MSc and PhD. I lived at home and worked part time to make studying that long affordable, but I couldn’t have done it without my parents support. I am very lucky.

I have always been driven by self-determination and a workaholic tendency (the latter I wouldn’t recommend) and I’ve always liked to think if I can do it, then others can do it. But after recently reading Why I’m No Longer Talk to White People About Race, I have to acknowledge the enormous privileges that comes with being white and from London.

With my personality type I haven’t always been exactly what people wanted, I wasn’t seen to fit the mould for certain kinds of jobs, as I talked about before. I know what its like to be bullied, undermined and underestimated in the workplace. I also know what its like to have people believe in me. I know what its like to have be trusted, supported, have respect and autonomy to do the work that is needed. I know what kind of environment I want to be a part of taking with the people I work with, lead and manage, I believe in compassionate and empathic leadership.

I’m rambling now. I don’t know if this is interesting, useful or worth sharing, but I’ll share it anyway. Thanks!