CIO Development

Blog Six Years of Talented Women

Hi, I am Helen Toogood – I run the workshop for CIO Development. We have been running it for almost six years now. Over the years, I have seen other organisations doing similar elements. This workshop is created out of the experiences I had as an Account Manager in IBM and as VP on the Global IT Leadership Team at Unilever, as the only woman for 6 out of 8 of those years and the work we did to improve the pipeline of talented females.

I took a brand framework for developing loyal and trusted brands and realised that over the years I did the same to myself without knowing it. I was the Authentic Leader I wanted to be – without compromise or guilt. I was able to have a successful career with periods of time working part-time and flexibly and was able to have a fulfilling family life – I just had to understand what I really wanted, make some choices (and own those choices) and set a plan to go and get it… One boss said to me: “If you know what you want and can articulate it to me in a way I understand – then I have 100% more chance of helping you to get it.” Often as women we limit ourselves “I want to be the next CIO, but I can’t because my parents are old and frail and need me”. We look at re-shaping this to say “I want to be the next CIO and the best daughter I can ever be”. Once that is articulated all sorts of things fall in to place – “If I were CIO, I could choose to take a Friday off, I would have more money to pay for more care”. So “Yes I can have both… as long as I make conscious choices and own them.”

The workshop talks about each of the following:

The way we do this is through some presentation, stories, feedback, experiences, aha moments and anything else that works for the particular group! How do we achieve such astounding results? We stick to 4 simple rules:

  1. We work on confidence where it is needed
  2. We set challenges for each other in a small and very safe environment of trust, which gets built very quickly
  3. We grow the network of support
  4. We highlight the role we play as Role Models.

When we run this with a group in-house we also look at the current environment and what we need to do to make it conducive to us thriving. However, in an open group the current environments are all so different – we do cover it and swap ideas, but don’t spend as much time on it. I tailor the workshop depending on who is on it. With the more senior women we look at the impact they make as Role Models and the legacy they want to leave – with younger women on their career path we work on the impact they want to have and start to shape the plan and path they want to take, building their confidence to go for it.

If you want to know more please contact us or explore more here…

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