The House of St John’s is privileged to have such a talented team at the heart of its operations. For the occasion of International Women’s Day we asked our Head of House, Amy Grant, to reflect on her career journeys thus far.
You have both forged your own paths, gaining successes and recognition at early ages – where there ever moments of doubt?
Amy: Yes, I experienced doubt at most stages of my career. Even though I was doing an Events Management degree at university, I still wasn’t sure this was the right path for me. When interviewed for a role as an administrator, I must have impressed in my interview as was offered a role as a Fleet Manager. I didn’t even properly understand what this job entailed but I had to ‘take the leap’ which lead me off on my career path. I think I’ve had that little ‘can I do this?’ feeling with almost every role I’ve taken subsequently but I have always had the drive and determination, deep down, to be successful.
Who are/were the role models that helped you realise your potential growing up?
Amy: Without sounding cheesy, my role model has always been my mother. She gave me the confidence to pursue everything and anything that was thrown my way. “You don’t know until you try” she would say and told me that so long as I put 100% effort into everything then I would never be a failure.
The theme this year is ‘breaking the bias’ – have you felt the effects of stereotyping and discrimination in your career journey? How did you overcome it, both in restoring your confidence and for your career?
Amy: When accepting my first sales role, there were already a lot of negative beliefs about a woman’s performance in such a male-dominated industry. With this attitude entrenched in the organisation, I started to doubt my ability, constantly comparing my sales figures to everyone else’s in the company. However, I soon learnt that performance was nothing to do with gender, it all came down to experience. I was also looked down upon due to my age but I quickly learned that just because I was new to a lot of things, didn’t mean I couldn’t learn and I was a fast learner.
Which achievement do you most feel proud of, career or otherwise?
Amy: I struggled with dyslexia throughout my whole school life. I couldn’t read until I was 12 and I struggle even now. But, having dyslexia doesn’t mean you’re not capable, it just means that you learn in a different way and it takes a little bit longer. I stayed on after school, most days, and worked with a tutor twice a week to help me ‘catch up’ which ended in results of Bs, As and A* in my GCSEs, leading me on to a two-year Level 3 business administration apprenticeship. I then worked to complete the course within a year and was accepted at my first choice university.
What advice would you have to young women looking to be the best they can but nervous of the prejudice that might incite?
Amy: Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t. You know what you are capable of. You are the leader of your own future and so grab all opportunities that come your way by the horns, and run with them!