Fantastic Female – Deborah Gammell – Conifox Adventure Park

Fantastic Female Q&A – Deborah Gammell – Conifox Adventure Park

Deborah began her professional life as a recruiter, initially working on the agency side before transferring in-house, working predominantly within Financial Services. 

Her most recent roles, prior to beginning her journey with Conifox, were in Relationship Management and Business Partnership positions which she loved due to their variety and engagement with people. She feels her skillset is most keenly demonstrated when in facilitator mode, bridging the gap between business needs and delivery. 

She as an aptitude for lateral thinking, always seeking the information required to gain a full picture before reaching beyond the obvious.  She initially joined James working with Conifox in 2016 and has recently returned in the capacity of Business Development Manager, tasked with cultivating new corporate clients and developing relationships with local schools. 

Her not-so-secret passion is in understanding how commercial success can translate into community contribution through charitable projects. Through her corporate sales revenue, for example, a percentage of profit will be donated to her charitable endeavours via the Conifox Charitable Trust, a process which is already with the regulators for approval. It is important to Deborah to recognise the potential Conifox has to impact social change, using their core business values to ensure that profitability is not the only item on the strategic agenda.

When not at work, or caring for her two young children, you are most likely to find Deborah in a quiet corner with a good coffee and a book.

Fantastic Female Q&A – Deborah Gammell – Conifox Adventure Park

Conifox Adventure Park

What have you sacrificed (both personally and professionally) at each stage of your career? 

Pre-children, personal and professional growth developed well on the same trajectory and I didn’t feel any sense of sacrifice as progress in each area benefited the other in symbiotic fashion.

Due to illness early on in my pregnancy with my daughter Catherine (I suffered badly with pre- and post-natal anxiety), I resigned from my role as Recruitment Business Partner with Royal London and sacrificed my corporate career to begin a journey which continues today, nearly 7 years later. Working with my husband James in our own business is a precarious balancing act where my worklife and professional aspirations compete with my desire to spend time with my children, now 6 & 3. The result is a compromise of which regularly feels like a sacrifice of one over the other. 

Who inspired you and why?

My primary source of inspiration remains my grandmother, she would have been 87 this year. I remember doing an exercise in school when I was 12 years old, we were asked who we admired and why, many other children talked about pop stars, authors and actors and I shocked myself when tears welled up and I spoke of my grandmother, Catherine, for whom my daughter is namedShe was a person who always saw the gifts of the world, stopped to admire a blue sky, a rushing stream, a blackbird singing. She took care to point out all of these things to me and taught me to feel joy in the embrace of simple pleasures. She was a fiercely independent woman who fought to remain at home while in the grip of dementia. She survived two husbands, acute myeloid leukaemia, a terrible car crash and raised four children on her own when she was widowed at the age of 39. Her priorities were always healthy eating and caring for her family, walking miles for fresh fish and local farm produce. Our best days together were adventures like these and a return home with weary feet to cook up a feast of soups and stews together. She always had an ear to listen and never took a position of judgment. She was careful and canny with her friendships and was never one to engage in idle gossip. Even in the end, remarkably, she held on to her kindness, her dignity and her reserve. 

What advice would you give to young women who want to succeed in the workplace?

Patrol your boundaries. It is difficult advice to follow. As women, we are predominately raised as peacekeepers and collaborators. Practice speaking up for yourself, even if it begins at home or in friendship groups. There are many personalities in the world, and it will not serve you to accommodate all of them. It is alright to disagree and hold your ground. Do it respectfully and in the knowledge that you can’t change people, only how you show up in the world. Great words of wisdom to share that are not my own, “be careful what you tolerate, you are teaching people how to treat you.” (Benjamin Disraeli)

Where will we find you on a Saturday morning at 10 a.m.?  

Either in my pjs with a mug of coffee watching James Martin on TV or out adventuring with my children and black Lab Isla.

Conifox Adventure Park

What do you love about your job?

I love being able to co-create a business of our own. We can decide what to strive for and how to achieve our goals. We are a small and nimble team with exceptional talent around the management table. I love conversations around how we can grow commercially and particularly how we can use commercial success to meet our primary values on social inclusion, community engagement and supporting charitable causes. Our relationship with KidsLoveClothes, Dads Rock and CHAS demonstrates our commitment to these fundamental values.

What’s the best career decision you’ve ever made?

The best career decisions I have consistently made are to ask for more. Whether that was more training, more responsibility, more progression. In my corporate career, I was always reaching for a more, always raising my hand for development and promotion. Probably the single best career decision I made was unintentional. I offered support to a recruiter in London who had approached me to ask for help in filling a role in Edinburgh. She wanted to be connected to my network and introduced to my contactsI supported her over the weeks of her campaign without personal interest. In the end, she came to me with a fantastic offer to join a client of hers and opened the door for one of the best roles I ever held.

What’s the worst career decision you’ve ever made?

To stay too long working with a manager who did not serve me. Doing so affected my confidence for years and distorted my view of my own capabilities.

Fantastic Female Q&A – Deborah Gammell – Conifox Adventure Park

Conifox Adventure Park

How do you organise your time?

I work most effectively under pressure. I am guilty of allowing a to do list to build up to the point it generates some tension before giving it my attention. I am most likely to be highly organised and productive when I have a lot on, in which scenario I am quick to prioritise and deliver.

What do you think is your greatest strength? I am great at empathy and possess a genuine desire to understand people, their actions and motivations.

What do you think is your greatest weakness?

I am an overthinker/analyser which can paralyse action and generate confusion in equal measure.

How do you make decisions? Instinctively and by gut.

What do you read? Anything. I am a prolific reader and will normally have 3 or 4 books on the go at any given time. Right now, I am simultaneously reading; Bringing Your Values Out to Play by Debra Corey, The Librarian of Auschwitz by Antonio Iturbe and Think Like a Monk by Jay Shetty.

What do you think are the secrets behind getting to where you’ve got to?

I am not sure I know the answer to that! My best guess would be to be willing to take a chance, willing to take certain risks and listening to my gut. My gut serves me better than my head does

To find out more visit the Conifox Adventure Park Facebook page @conifoxadventurepark and their  website

Fantastic Female Q&A – Deborah Gammell – Conifox Adventure Park

Conifox Adventure Park

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