Who inspires you? Do you have a mentor? Has your interest changed work-wise since you had kids? We are asking the workingmums.co.uk team to give their views.
It’s 2020 and we wanted to start the year on a positive note, looking at the people who have inspired or helped us in our careers, even if indirectly, and we thought we’d start with the workingmums.co.uk team. First up is Mandy Garner, editor of workingmums.co.uk.
Workingmums.co.uk: Who has inspired you in your life – both in work and outside?
Mandy Garner: I was never someone who followed one particular person’s career or thought that was who I wanted to be. I was interested in many different people, but I had only a vague idea of what I wanted to do – which boiled down mainly to writing or acting. I think that, more than people, I was inspired by ideas when it came to work.
My first job was in human rights and that had a big impact on me, speaking to and campaigning for writers and journalists who had taken high risks, in some cases leading to their deaths, for campaigning or writing. That showed me the huge importance of good journalism.
In my job, I speak to amazing people, from directors of companies to leading academics to PhD students running their own NGOs. I tell my kids all about them, particularly the students. Talking to them gives me hope for the future.
On the personal side, my uncle is a journalist – and a very good one at that. And my mum has been at the centre of everything, having brought my brother and me up as a single parent. My kids are also a huge source of inspiration and pride. For instance, seeing my daughter battle with intense bullying and come out of that still being the lovely, kind, thoughtful person she has always been has been amazing.
WMs: Have you had a mentor[s] or someone who has helped you in your career?
MG: I’ve never really had a mentor. It wasn’t a thing back in the day. However, over the years I have met people who have inspired me in a negative sense, particularly one manager who was a bully and who has fuelled a determination to help others facing similar treatment.
A colleague who was also badly treated by him and is a brilliant journalist has also been important both as an example – she has not only built a very good career after leaving, but while facing very big personal hurdles as a mum – and as someone who understood what was going on and who helped me afterwards when my confidence was at rock bottom.
WMs: Has your career taken the path you thought when you started?
MG: I never really had a plan! I’m not sure I really thought much about where I wanted to be. I never really had a five-year plan or anything. I just meandered along, doing what interested me. I guess I thought I was going to be a writer of some kind. I wanted to write books, but, with four kids and several jobs, I haven’t had time to do that so far!
WMs: What are you most proud of in your working life?
MG: The human rights work I did. Next year is the 100th anniversary of the organisation I worked for and my former boss has been writing blogs about some of the things that happened back in the day. It has been very moving reading those and I am really looking forward to a reunion later this year. I’m also proud every time we can help any individual with advice, support and ideas at workingmums.co.uk and workingwise.co.uk.
WMs: Do you think what you are looking for in your work has changed at different stages of your working life?
MG: I know this is true for many people, but for me I have always been driven by an interest in people’s lives and ideas and that has not changed at all. The way I work has changed, but that is superficial. In the past I worked long hours in an office. Now I work long hours mainly at home. Only the setting has changed, not the interest.