Changing Direction: starting a business women’s network
Jackie Groundsell went from charity worker to starting a business women’s network, 1230 TWC, in 2002. Here’s her story:
I was Assistant fund-raising Manager at an internationally recognised charity. As a qualified IT trainer, I also had responsibility for IT training and support of all staff. The redundancy was a shock, although I had felt something was “going on” prior to my meeting with the outsourced consultant who advised me of this.
Shortly prior to this news I had had an adverse mammogram result, however, further tests resulted in no cause for alarm and were negative. The people involved in the redundancy notification had apparently been waiting for the results before telling me. Quite what they would have done had the results been positive, who knows. I can’t share their name with you because of having to sign a confidentiality agreement, let’s just say there was a certain irony in all this. I had worked there a little over 7 years.
Yes, I was distressed, but I had resolved prior to the meeting that whatever the outcome I would not cry in that meeting. Holding onto a glass of water was my focus, not to cry! I felt cold, frozen. He had asked me if I would like to leave that day (Tuesday) or at the end of the week, I chose immediate. My office was next door. I had been in the middle of finishing off “thank you” letters to some contacts following a big event. Anger and tears started to well up, I tore all the hard copy letters up – petty I know.
My husband had been retired through ill-health 2.5 years prior, so there were financial “how will we manage” thoughts running through my head. The HR Manager insisted on carrying my “things” to my car. With tears streaming down my face this happened. I didn’t say anything as we walked through the main reception. Rumours apparently went around that I was escorted off the premises.
As you can tell, this did knock me sideways. But I was up and running pretty quickly with a job as lead IT trainer, within 3 months of leaving. I stayed in this small company for 1 year, getting my skills and knowledge back on track, ready to go it alone.
The previous employer had offered to send me on some sort of course. I wanted nothing more to do with them, so refused, plus I was busy planning steps as above. But my family and friends were very supportive.
On starting up my own IT training company, I was fortunate in finding a substantial client almost straight away, but in quickly realising I needed more, I took action to make contacts and 1230 The Women’s Company evolved from this.
Learnings from starting a business women’s network
Several clichés come from this – one door closes and another opens, what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger…. I can see that I was never destined for employment long-term and the redundancy, whilst extremely unpleasant, was the opportunity I needed to burst forth!
Since then I’ve been fortunate to meet many amazing people (mostly women) many of whom have had far greater life challenges than I. I was lucky, they in many cases, not so.
Life now compared to then
Where I worked was actually very demanding, both on an emotional level and in terms of hours, but I was happy at the time to commit to this. It also helped me recognise different character traits in people and myself. With my own business, I still work long hours, but it’s on my terms with flexibility.
My advice for anyone facing redundancy right now
Use it as an opportunity to upskill, do something you’ve always wanted to do. Look around you for support and don’t be afraid to ask for help, for people to make connections for you, to help you go forward and to help you manage your challenges. If going into business for yourself, don’t always listen to those closest to you, unless perhaps they’ve had/have their own business. They can sometimes be a bit negative if they’ve always been employed, about security.
Anyone worth their salt has to have been redundant at least once! Get in touch with me and network, network, network!!
Times are currently very different to when my job was made redundant, (btw I did have a sound case to take them to Court) as it was when my Dad’s job was made redundant when he was 40 years’ old with a family to support.
You can find more about Jackie’s network here. The meetings support, mentor and train businesswomen owners, decision makers in careers. The meetings are currently, online and weekly at 12.30 pm; pre COVID-19 meetings were monthly, lunchtime.
If you’re interested in exploring starting your own business, you can join the hub and receive business coaching as part of your package here.