Josefa lives in the South of Edinburgh with her husband, daughter Grace who is 3 and the newest addition to their family Amy, who (at the time of writing this) is seven weeks old. Before setting up Graceful Changes, Josefa started out on her career journey as an accountant, before re-training as a primary school teacher. She has also worked at Queen Margaret University on a number of projects for their Division of Nursing.
The link to her website is https://www.gracefulchanges.co/
What have you sacrificed (both personally and professionally) at each stage of your career?
I struggled to find where I ‘fit’ and, for a long time, I felt I had to be a ‘something’ to have a career. I completed qualifications as a chartered accountant and a teacher in my desire to have what I thought was an ‘acceptable’ career. I was a good student and got a degree from Oxford University and I felt really under pressure to achieve ‘success’ even though actually, I am not a particularly ambitious person. Realising that I am good enough just as I am was a hard-fought lesson. In learning that, I certainly sacrificed my mental health at times. I have sacrificed external successes such as money and promotion to find the right balance in my life, and that is an ongoing project.
Who inspired you and why?
I am inspired by people who use their skills and energy to benefit others, and are not afraid to be different. At the moment, along with the rest of the world, I am inspired by Jacinda Ardern, the Prime Minister of New Zealand. Her effective handling of crises with empathy has been wonderful. Taking maternity leave, and then leading a country whilst also being a mum, including taking her baby to the United Nations general assembly, is breaking new ground.
I am also inspired by so many ‘ordinary’ women I know, who are smart, caring and make life better for their families and friends even in difficult circumstances. I have met some wonderful women through starting my own business.
What advice would you give to young women who want to succeed in the workplace?
I didn’t always feel comfortable in the workplace, and not sure I am the best person to advise on this question! I think women need to listen to their instincts about what feels right for them. The workplace is evolving, and I hope young women are part of that change. I have two (very young) daughters and I can’t even imagine what the workplace will be like for them!
Do you think women feel intimidated in business?
It is easy to feel intimidated in any environment without the right support. Friends, colleagues and mentors can help provide a much needed network.
Where will we find you on a Saturday morning at 10 a.m.?
I am writing this in lockdown, so ‘at home’ is the answer! In normal times, my husband and daughter go to Parkrun at 9.30am on a Saturday so this is often rare time that I get to be on my own.
What do you love about your job?
I love the flexibility, choosing my own agenda, and who to collaborate and work with.
What’s the best career decision you’ve ever made?
Still early days, but hopefully it is running my own business!
What’s the worst career decision you’ve ever made?
Taking jobs (more than one!) that I didn’t enjoy and blaming myself for making the decision.
How do you organise your time?
Now that I am a mother, time has become even trickier to organise. I keep many to do lists. I find that I have times when I am in ‘flow’ and can get lots done, and other times where it all falls apart! Trying to keep going and get the most done when I am in flow works for me. I am sure I could do better!
What do you think is your greatest strength?
I am a logical thinker, and can turn my hand to most things in the workplace.
What do you think is your greatest weakness?
I can be too self- critical and worry too much.
How do you make decisions?
Usually quite instinctively and quickly.
What do you read?
Since having children, I listen to fiction on audible much more than reading. My 3 year old daughter is a bookworm, so I read lots of picture books!
What do you think are the secrets behind getting to where you’ve got to?
Keeping going, don’t fear failure and be open to new things.
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