Always leave on good terms


My mother used to say:

“when you leave a job, always leave on good terms; you never know who or what is around the corner”.

When I finally took the plunge to give up my day job and develop my cake business, it was so nice to receive a thank you letter from my Chief Executive, wishing me all the best for the future. My mother was right, life is too short and you never know when paths will cross again.

I live and work 10 minutes away from my old dayjob, and whenever people in that office need a cake for an event or a function, guess who they call?…

Your old colleagues and managers could be potential customers and clients for your business, or they may know someone who needs what you have to offer. So when you head out the door, don’t slam it shut.

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We need more women in engineering

Today’s Guest Blogger is from Phil Crawley, a Broadcast Engineer. He is passionate about young women seeing engineering as a career option.

It’s no secret that most young women who go down the science route tend to opt for biology, medicine or the life sciences generally. It’s a rare girl who sticks with what’s known as the STEM subjects (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Maths). I should know – I did a maths and programming degree in the mid-80s and in my first year maths classes out of around a hundred students there were two girls. After I graduated I got a job in the BBC as a broadcasting engineer and I entirely expected to never see another woman during my working life! At the time the Beeb had a scheme called the Graduate Trainee Entry programme where they would not just take people with Electronics degrees but anyone with a science degree and give them an extra years training before they got their BBC engineer certificate. I subsequently discovered that this was because they wanted to get more young women into engineering but could hardly select on gender at recruitment time.

The effect was small but noticeable; women who had abandoned STEM subjects at eighteen for (say) biology were tempted back and so generally every team of ten engineers had a least one woman (what an improvement from the 2% I’d witnessed as an undergraduate!). This brings a very positive effect to the studio or workshop with a less “blokey” atmosphere, a more mature and balanced environment. The insight and attitude brought by women to these previously male bastions makes the working environment better and I am convinced that it only takes the same training of a young woman to turn out engineers who are just as good as men; why shouldn’t it?
But, it shouldn’t be all about what women can bring to male-dominated workplaces. There is good money to be made in STEM careers and why shouldn’t women be taking a slice of that pie? A lot of the discoveries that make life better for the rest of us come from science and engineering and by not having female sensibilities driving that research how many improvements are being missed or found later than they should be? It’s well known that a terrible lack of STEM graduates in politics means that climate change (for example) in not taken as seriously by policy makers as it should be – a more scientifically minded population is needed as the UK faces the challenges of the 21st Century.

I’m going to introduce you to a couple of women engineers; the first is Captain Grace Hopper, a US Navy computer scientist. Initially a mathematics professor at Yale she went on to develop and standardise compilers (the software that turns high level computer programmes into the machine code that can actually run a computer). By the 1970s she was a proponent for the early use of the Internet with the Department of Defence. Even in retirement she continued to lecture and encourage youngsters into computer engineering;
“The most important thing I’ve accomplished, other than building the compiler, is training young people. They come to me, you know, and say, “Do you think we can do this?” I say, “Try it.” And I back ‘em up. They need that. I keep track of them as they get older and I stir ‘em up at intervals so they don’t forget to take chances.”

Kate Bellingham

Kate Bellingham

Kate Bellingham is an ex-colleague of mine; she started at the BBC at the same time as me but got poached by the science programme “Tomorrow’s World” to bring her technical expertise to a popular science programme. She has gone on to play an active role in the government’s schools STEM programme and aimed to ensure all young people are aware of the fulfilling and attractive opportunities opened up by studying STEM subjects.

“Even over the school holidays we can support our children, and the young people we meet. We can make a difference by watching STEM related TV as families, giving context for their learning. We can go to museums and live events. Even do some kitchen science ourselves. And at family gatherings we can share our experience of the STEM related work we do – hopefully to inspire! And, of course, we can make sure that we are well enough informed that when asked a question, we give an up-to-date and relevant answer, or know where to go to get it.”

I don’t have any daughters (only three fantastic sons!) but if I did I know I’d be encouraging them to look seriously at engineering, not just for themselves, but for the good of society as a whole.

For further information for Women in Engineering:

Video Clip “Women in Engineering: Why I love being an engineer”

The IET’s women’s section

The Women’s Engineering Society

The BBC – Work Experience Opportunities in London within Television

For further information on Phil Crawley

Follow Phil Crawley on Twitter

Read Phil’s blog

Posted in Decisions, Education, Mentors, School, The '80's | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Tight squeeze

Ladies, whether we like it or not, the weather is changing. This means there will come a time when bare legs won’t cut it. I was invited to speak at an event last year, around this time. I did my research, prepared for the event. I even planned and allowed for travelling time. I woke up on the morning that I was due to speak and began to get ready for the event. The outfit I had chosen to wear was hanging outside the wardrobe, and I’ve even remembered to change everything over to right handbag; but I’d forgotten all about hosiery (now there’s a sentence I didn’t think I’d ever be writing). Tights, stockings, hold-ups…They’re never to hand when you need them; and if you are a woman of colour, they are even more illusive. So, to save myself from stress and heartache, I’ve decided to become organised. As we start to say goodbye to summer, I get online and order a selection of tights to last me through this season. No more ‘sorry madam, we don’t have that colour’ or ‘we’ve sold out in that size’.


Here’s a batch that arrived today, so I’m all stocked up for the season. It’s all part of me getting organised….

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Blossom where you are planted

Sometimes it’s all about allowing God to place yourself in the right place at the right time:
• In business
• In the work place
• On your journey to your dreams and destiny

It’s only when we are totally in alignment with God’s word for our lives, that we can truly flourish…

Tree planted

“He is like a tree planted by streams of water,
which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither,
whatever he does prospers” – Psalm 1 v5

Posted in Business, Career, Choices, Circumstances, Flourish, It's your time to flourish | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A child who reads…

A child who reads

Feed the mind of a child by reading with them today…

I’d love to know what books you are reading with your children at the moment.

Posted in Book, Children, Reading | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

Still rising

I couldn’t think of a better place to hear the sad news of Maya Angelou’s passing. I was in one of my favourite places, somewhere I visit without fail, with my daughters, at least once a week; I was at the library. It was hauntingly quiet, but the librarian looked up from her desk and announced ‘Maya Angelou has died’.
“So who’s Maya Angelou?” my daughter asked. “She was a great writer and poet. She wrote some books and poems that I cannot wait to introduce you to.” There’s so much I could have said to my eleven year old daughter, but I’m hoping that Maya Angelou’s books will speak for themselves.


“I’ve learned that no matter what happens, or how bad it seems today, life does go on, and it will be better tomorrow.”

“I’ve learned that you can tell a lot about a person by the way he/she handles these three things: a rainy day, lost luggage, and tangled Christmas tree lights.”

“I’ve learned that regardless of your relationship with your parents, you’ll miss them when they’re gone from your life.”

“I’ve learned that “making a living” is not the same thing as ‘making a life’.”

Maya Angelou 1928- 2014

Maya Angelou 1928- 2014

“I’ve learned that life sometimes gives you a second chance.”

“I’ve learned that you shouldn’t go through life with a catcher’s mitt on both hands; you need to be able to throw some things back.”

“I’ve learned that whenever I decide something with an open heart, I usually make the right decision.”

“I’ve learned that even when I have pains, I don’t have to be one.”

“I’ve learned that every day you should reach out and touch someone. People love a warm hug, or just a friendly pat on the back.”

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

Thank you Maya Angelou, there you go…Still rising…

Posted in 2014, Africa, Author, Book, Inspirational Women, Life, Woman, Women, Writer | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Provision for the Vision

I took some time out, recently. I started to get frustrated, because things weren’t moving forward in the pace I wanted them to move, and I felt there were constant setbacks and drawbacks.

It was only when I took some time out and poured my heart out to God, that I realised that I needed to come to Him, to ask what I needed to take my life (and all that this encompasses) and my business forward. I hit upon asking for Provision for the Vision. Simply put, asking God for exactly what I need for my life vision. Here’s what I noted down…

Permission to dream
I never want to be in a place or a state of mind, where I cannot dream. Our dreams and desires are what inspire us to keep moving forward. The size of our dreams can help us to plan and grow. Some dreams are so BIG that they seem like they will never be fulfilled, but it’s all about taking little steps each day.

I also need to surround myself with people who allow me to dream (remember that they do not give you permission to dream, but they make room and space, and create an environment where you can dream freely). Not everyone will get your dream or vision, but make sure you are around people who will encourage you, even when they can’t see it.


Provision for my children
My family are an important part of my life. I never want my business to take priority over my children. I admit that there may be times when we don’t get to go to the park, because I’m on a deadline, or another mum may do school pick-up; but I need balance in the things I say yes to, when it comes to my children.
It’s important that I:
• get to spend time with them
• have fun with them
• know what’s going on in their lives

My business must shape around my children (hence why I am writing this while the house is quiet, because everyone is asleep…We’re off the cinema, as a half-term treat, this morning, so I must crack on).

I don’t always ‘say yes to the dress’

Financial Freedom
I don’t want to be weighed down by negative influences on my life such as debt. When you are in debt, you OWE someone or something. I’ve made a plan to look at my finances in a different way, which means that I don’t always ‘say yes to the dress’ and will be (can be and should be) satisfied with what I have; and prioritise settling what I owe, as quickly as I can. I want to be in a position where finances, or the lack of funds, do not hold me back from progressing, or blessing others. I’ve also realised that my relationship with finances, or the way that I handle money, is an example I am setting for my children. I certainly do not want them to make the mistakes I have made. It’s one of the best principles I can pass on to them, if I can get this right.
Also, with financial freedom, I want to be in a position where what I do is not bound by the amount I earn. I do a fair amount of volunteering in the community. If I suddenly have to say no to projects because, I need to ‘bring home the bacon’, my work/life balance will be off kilter.

Provision to take care of myself
Sometimes I am so busy, I get to the late afternoon and realise that I haven’t eaten properly, or my stress levels are hitting a high-note. There are some evenings when I’ve overdone it, where my husband becomes the parent and tells me that I need to stop what I’m doing, have a bath and get to bed. So I need to make room and give myself permission to take care of myself. As a wives and mothers, we keep the ship afloat. We know when:
• there is the last roll of toilet paper in the house
• the date of the next playdate
• your mother-in-law’s birthday is
• the date of that big pitch or presentation
• the bills need to be settled
• the school concert date


But sometimes, we’re so busy looking after other people, that we neglect ourselves. So, I’ve been taking some little steps to look after myself:
• I hit the gym a few times a week. Whether it’s half an hour on the cross-trainer, or a full session, I see this as my time. I’m not contactable on the phone or email, and I can zone out and tone up
• I’m still struggling with this one, but trying to drink more water. I know the difference it has made so far, so I have to keep on drinking
• I’ve always enjoyed looking good and taking care of myself, but I’ve let that slip recently. It’s amazing what a fresh coat of polish on your toenails or facial scrub can do. So I’m factoring some time to look after myself
• I need to feed my body with goodness. So instead of reaching for something sweet (which is very hard, as I have a cake business), I need to reach for an apple or a carrot.

Take some time out today and see what provision you need to feed your vision. I’d love to know what comes back to you.

Posted in Business, Cake business, Childcare, Children, Choices, Circumstances, Dreams, Family, Food, Getting organised, health, Mother | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment