It all started with a little red radio. I was ten when my Dad brought home a tiny transistor radio he’d been given at work. It was a game-changer. I used to lie in bed under the covers at night listening to that radio and I set my heart on working in broadcasting.
At the age of eighteen I got my lucky break: co-presenting a show on BBC local radio. One of my first ever interviews was with the singer-songwriter Billy Bragg. I was, and still am, a fan. I got in trouble for showing political impartiality during that interview. Next came a stint in music television. Soon after leaving university, I was living my teenage dream, working on Friday At The Dome for Channel 4 and then The American Music Festival. It led to a role at Unique Broadcasting, a start-up production company.
I worked in every corner of that business, rising through the ranks to become head of special projects and managing director of its radio studio business before the group floated on AIM as UBC Media plc. I'd made it. Well, that was the image I was projecting: there’s a photo of me shaking hands with Tony Blair during the 1997 general election. I was MD of a creative business and I was only 29. But a couple of years later, cracks were starting to show. I was working too hard and had too much on my plate. I didn’t enjoy running a business any more. I knew what made me tick, and I’d seen the friction between how I wanted to do my job and what I was expected to do in the office.
The thought came to me: why couldn’t I just shape my career around who I really was? So when I found myself in my doctor’s surgery, as she scribbled out a prescription for antidepressants, I made a decision to make a big change. I quit my job and went solo as an independent consultant and reframed my worklife the way I wanted it to be.
The first ten years were a journey of experimentation: writing a series of books on work and business; launching a creative agency OHM London with clients such as Benetton; working with creative entrepreneurs on a series of projects.
In 2012 I started writing features about work and business for the Financial Times. In 2015 I was asked to speak at The Do Lectures and to tell a story I’d never told before. I stood on stage and revealed the truth behind why I quit my job to go independent and how I found my compass (watch: Finding your story, your purpose and your compass).
Now my mission is to shake up the world of work. My career has been a real adventure - full of the inevitable ups and downs - I’ve seen the good, the bad and the ugly sides of the world of work. What gets me out of bed in the morning is a mission to make the world of work and business more human. I know we’d all be in a better place if we brought our real selves to work. These days I make sure I follow ‘me’: I go for summer swims, hunt out good coffee, and am around for my kids. I’ve seen from my own story that when you show up as the Real You, the good stuff follows.
I’ve worked at the Ian Sanders Company for many years as editor, writer, researcher and all round sounding board. Before that, I had an eclectic career - I've worked in boardrooms and therapy rooms; up the Sydney Harbour Bridge and over a Japanese fish shop. Wherever I’ve been and whatever I’ve done, words, ideas, stories have always been at the heart of my journey. What I’ve learned in these different disciplines and environments is distilled into my approach today. An open mind, a nose-to-the-ground appetite for the truth and hearty dose of curiosity to find the gold: these elements go into every project. I bring a bird’s eye view of the overall picture, as well as having a focused gaze on the small details. I’m a devil’s advocate, an asker of the “what if we did it this way, not that?” I’ve co-founded a back-to-work mums’ group and organised charity events; I’m active in a local Meet Up group and get involved in the local community as a school governor. Good coffee shops are my natural habitat and can usually be spotted with black Muji fineliner in hand, doing two of my favourite things - doodling and writing.