|16 Jun 2020|
Joanna Gaudoin Class of 1991-1998 was kind enough to give me a story of what she has been up to since leaving SWPS, which gives a great insight into how your career path can take different turns, some for the better - others for the worse! Enjoy her story;
I think of my time at SWPS with a lot of fondness. In my earlier years there, I would say I was quieter and far less involved in things. I wasn’t a keen sportsperson and although I had piano lessons I was never that good – scraping through my exams by a mark or two! However, in sixth form I would say that changed. I was in the first year that had the new sixth form centre and for both these years it was a lovely social place to be. I was doing subjects I loved French, German and Geography A-levels, with some fun Spanish lessons with Mrs Berry and three others to get a GCSE alongside our A-levels. I also got involved in Young Enterprise and our team did pretty well in the different competition phases across the region, making greetings cards. I would say that experience led to me building some really solid friendships and these people are still great, close friends today.
My next step was a Management and French degree at Bath in 1998, it was challenging to find the right degree as I didn’t want to do French literature. This degree was Management topics taught in English and French, plus French language skill lectures and seminars on non-literature topics. I enjoyed it thoroughly and university years were another happy time. Upon graduating, I spent some time in Paris working in Marketing for Kimberly-Clark, before they moved me back to the UK. After three years though, I wanted to do something broader and be London (rather than Kent) based. I got a job in consultancy where I was supporting others in the team (including my now husband!) who modelled the impact of different types of marketing spend in terms of delivering valuable actionable insights to clients, such as Masterfoods Petcare. Following that I had a few turbulent roles at other consultancies which came with their own challenges – from a job that was so boring that I put on 2 stone eating cake, redundancy, through to Directors leaving en masse.
I realised I hadn’t found what I really wanted to do and had no idea what that was. This felt challenging, especially with my school background and seeing my friends so seemingly settled in their careers. I ended up working with a Career Transition Coach who was life changing. She helped me work out what I wanted to do (she didn’t tell me!). In Autumn 2011, I retrained in personal impact and since then have built a successful business working with Financial & Professional Services people on their non-technical skills; to help people progress their career and improve the performance of their companies. I essentially work with people one-to-one and via seminars and masterclasses on their career challenges related to their personal impact (how they communicate themselves and engage with others) and how they build professional relationships in different professional scenarios. I find myself working with clients on a range of areas from presenting, networking, ’Office Politics’ and managing other professional situations well. I couldn’t be happier in what I do, yet if you had said to me 10 years ago I’d run my own business I’d never have believed you! I always thought I’d end up working for a big company and in a way I do, but lots of them as I go in work with clients and then go to another – I love the variety. One day I am in my office working on my marketing and writing presentations, another day I can be up early to run a workshop, in the afternoon speak at a conference and be out networking in the evening.
My biggest learning is you never know what lies ahead – be flexible and keep your eye out for opportunities!