Corporate Beginnings Met with an Unexpected Twist Along the Way
Born of a family of academics, it was a forgone conclusion that Lesley would follow a path from academia to the suit and tie lifestyle of the corporate world and that’s exactly what happened except for an unexpected twist along the way.
Having developed an exceptional talent for absorbing Mathematics and the Sciences, Lesley chose to study Civil Engineering which led to an opportunity in the male dominated world of offshore site investigation.
Being a female in this environment in the 1980s meant her opportunities would always be limited so she did what any entrepreneurial minded person would do and found a niche that was under developed and in need of a solution.
Using her mathematical and logic skills she learnt how to develop computer programs for the analysis and design of the foundations for oil rigs. A new skill not fully recognised within the engineering profession at the time, but one that would prove invaluable.
Lesley’s specialised skills developed quickly and were sought by a number of civil engineering companies until, in a moment of clarity Lesley realised that in order to achieve greater success in business, she was going to have to pivot and change direction.
Programming skills were in demand in a number of industries, particularly in London in the banking arena. Lesley took advantage of this and left civil engineering to continue developing her skills at a bank.
Working in the city during the 1980s was demanding, late nights, long lunches and a fast paced business environment. Couples like Lesley and her husband, who both worked in the city, were known affectionately as DINKY’s (double income, no kids yet!).
The yuppie decade saw extensive technical innovation within the banking arena. To keep up with the pace of change in what many still perceive as the banking capital of the world, was challenging with corporate mergers and internal restructuring being declared almost every month.
Once again, Lesley took advantage of these turbulent times and constant restructures, learning and growing her knowledge base across multiple disciplines including Merchant Banking, International Banking, Group Finance and Retail Banking.
Growth and success is all about spotting an opportunity, seeing the possibilities and seizing the moment and that is exactly what Lesley did in identifying the dawn of true digital banking, developing a world-wide network for the International Division to communicate more cost effectively.
This electronic network, across 17 countries, was one of the first world-wide email and collaboration systems, and allowed a global vision to be created for the division, a real game changer for the bank.
It massively improved the quality of information being sent around the organisation and most significantly saved a fortune in costs that went straight to the bottom line profitability of the bank not just in the UK but also around the world.
Setting up this network had given Lesley the opportunity to travel around the world and opened her eyes to new possibilities.
It was time to focus on bigger projects and another restructure opened up an opportunity to work within the Retail Banking Division, aligning the £20m IT budget with the business strategy. Lesley worked in partnership with the relevant sub-divisions to build multi-disciplined teams and ultimately improve the return on investment of the retail banking platform.
An Unexpected Challenage
Restructuring in the corporate world is something that happens on a fairly regular basis, and normally manifests after a management change at the top of the pyramid when a new set of initials arrives to stamp their mark on the organisation.
This time, instead of the usual new opportunity, Lesley found herself pushed to the side-lines to assist the management consultancy firm ‘brought in’ to re-organise the IT and Operation departments.
Within months, a decision was made to take a break from the world of corporate politics and choose a new adventure…
Setting Up A Business
From 300+ emails a day to 0 overnight!
For someone used to being 100mph and in demand from a dozen different directions, this was a 180 degree quantum change in lifestyle.
It was during a PTA meeting that she met a local Business Consultant, who opened her eyes to the needs of small businesses. He helped her see how her skills and corporate perspective could be used to help business owners, who do not have the precise knowledge, to put in place the plans and systems needed to afford true growth.
He invited her to a network event in London, “I had never heard of such a thing” says Lesley, but she went along to see what it was all about. She came away with a determination to set up her own business using the skills she had obtained in the fast paced corporate world.
The first few years were tough, Lesley was used to being the expert, the ‘go to’ person to get things done but as a business owner, she often sensed that things were not quite right, but putting her finger on why was not so easy. She felt like a fish out of water, not knowing what to do, how to do it and fearing there was so much ‘stuff’ about running a business that she simply did not know.
She set a budget and began asking for help from the businesses she was meeting at network events. She learnt a lot during this time, most importantly to ‘try’ people out before committing to pay them regular money.
Another challenge was managing the work she was giving out. Influencing people to do exactly what she wanted and deliver it when she needed it was the challenge, and a very different experience from managing a team with the same goals in the corporate world.
These ‘freelancers’ had other clients and other obligations she had no control over, something had to change about the way in which she was managing these projects, but what and how?
Around this time, she got involved with a Network Marketing business, primarily because she loved the products. One of the strengths of a Network Marketing business is the focus they put on developing their people to become the best version of themselves.
Lesley began her personal development journey, learning amongst other things, key differences between leadership and management. She soon realised that all of the ‘leadership’ training she had whilst at the bank was to ensure she became a better employee and in her case caused her to put up a façade so she would fit in.
As Lesley began to peel back the layers of this façade, she became more connected with her values and purpose which made a huge difference to how she communicated with her suppliers and clients.
Issues with freelancers melted away, she started to attract her perfect clients and her business grew. Over the last few years, she has developed a vast list of contacts and suppliers, all of whom deliver great value to their clients.
Now she is on a mission to help others who are transitioning from the corporate world to learn not only the practicalities of running a business but also the mind-set shift needed to become successful.
“ If I can make just a small improvement in the appalling statistic that 60% of businesses fail within their first 5 years, then I will know that I have made a difference” says Lesley.
During her personal development journey, Lesley uncovered a passion for speaking at conferences, not only to impart her knowledge and experience, but also to inspire business owners to dream big and aim high. She believes having a vision for your life and knowing how your business can enable that vision is a key factor in building a successful business.
Lesley runs a number of development programs and mentor groups focusing on all aspects of running a business, from the intricacies of a sales process to growth strategies and understanding the numbers.
These programs support and help individuals to create the lifestyle they always dreamed of, so their business works for them and not the other way around.
Lesley’s Training & Peer Groups
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You can find out more about Lesley and follow her insights on running and growing a successful business, the training she gives and her Mastermind Peer Groups.
Lesley’s latest posts can be found below, just click to read more.
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