This year International Women’s Day takes place on Monday 8th March, and the theme this year is asking people to #choosetochallenge. At Advanced Handling & Storage, we strive for a well-rounded workplace with gender equality at the heart of our hiring process.
Recently, Hazel Rockingham joined the team at Advanced Handing as our new Business Development Manager. We thought it would be the perfect time to sit down to talk to Hazel about International Women’s Day, what it means to her and the challenges she has had to overcome.
The biggest challenge of being a woman in your industry?
I’m currently six weeks into a new role in an industry that I have no experience working in. I think it would ultimately depend on what position you were responsible for. Men heavily weight this industry. Given my knowledge and the transferable skills that I have gained through other roles, any challenges that I do face, I feel that I would be able to deal with them professionally.
I’ve been fortunate to work across many industries in my 26-year career to date, from telecoms to media sales, professional services, finance, a diving clothing manufacturer. If anything, I have mostly felt respected and looked after in the roles and organisations I have worked in. I’m not sure if that is down to luck or to the fact that I had set my boundaries very early as to what I will and won’t accept.
What challenge are you most proud of overcoming?
The past 12 months have been a challenge for many, from initially being sent home to work on 16th March 2020 to being furloughed on 1st April and then made redundant August 2020. Being a natural extrovert, I would never choose to work from home or spend vast amounts of time in my own company.
Having a routine and planning my days were vital to keeping motivated.
Being out of work allowed me to sign up to be a mentor for The Girls’ Network, a national charity helping underprivileged girls between the ages of 14-19. Being part of the weekly mentoring programme has not only helped me keep focus but has also given me the ability to pass on my knowledge to help forge another person’s career choices. I have felt truly honoured to have had this opportunity to work with such a fantastic group of talented females.
What’s your biggest achievement in your career to date?
Understanding and working on my strengths and developing emotional intelligence has to be a defining moment in my career.
I was fortunate to have the opportunity to work alongside a Business Coach for five years, which allowed me to formulate a personal development plan and improve my knowledge and skills. Developing these skills also assisted when the need to understand others, and how they worked and communicated was vital.
At some point, we all have our share of disappointment and setbacks throughout our career. Being transparent about these failures as well as our success is fundamental to our ability to grow. These are skills I wish I had 20 years ago.
How do you think you have used the #choosetochallenge ethos in your career?
I’ve never felt that being female has held me back, mainly because a strong female raised me. From a young age, I witnessed females being financially independent and capable in their chosen careers. I am more comfortable now speaking out on issues that I feel need addressing. This is mainly because I have the experience and empathy to be able to deal with these situations. In not sure I would have felt this way in my 20’s.
What progress have you seen on gender equality in your life and work?
I have noticed an increase in females working in senior roles in predominately male-dominated industries. When I took my car for a service recently, the Motor group’s Service Manager was a female, which was so refreshing to see. It would be great to see more female representation in the male-dominated industries.
What’s your International Women’s Day message?
For me, the message is about being true to who you are and celebrating other females for their achievements. Also, spreading the message about not being held back for being female if you want to follow a particular career path career path, and not being disheartened if this is in a male-dominated industry. Find something that you are passionate about, work hard and smart to achieve your goals.
What does International Women’s Day mean to you?
It’s a reminder of how much society has changed into accepting that a woman can now be what she wants to be without having to fight twice as hard or being pigeonholed into a generalised career path.
Why do we need more women in leadership?
In my opinion, women are great leaders because they have the natural ability to show empathy and can leverage deeper communication in a more impactful way. We are already seeing an increase in female in leadership roles across the World, Jacinda Ardern with 40th president of New Zealand and Kamala Harris VP of the USA. This is such an inspiration for the younger female generation to see.