Suzanne is a Director at Mum and Working. She champions mums getting back into work. We are so proud to be working with her and her amazing team on several projects and were honoured most recently to be invited to speak in front of 200 women at the Mum & Working Academy, which Suzanne and her team had organised.
Do you have inspirational quotes?
"I am a huge fan of inspirational quotes and poetry, mostly stuck across my kitchen walls. Occasionally my husband takes them and puts them in the recycling bin but I just get them out again!
Those that resonate most are those around ‘living for now’, 'life being a journey not a destination' and 'being brave and focused enough to make changes if things in life aren’t working out.'
Desiderata - Go placidly amid the noise and haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence….
The Serenity Prayer – ‘Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, Courage to change the things I can, And wisdom to know the difference’ are both pretty great and help me stay grounded.
I like this from Carole Ann Duffy as inscribed at Durlston Castle - 'What will you do now with the gift of your left life?
‘Write it on your Heart’ – Emerson, ‘The Train Journey’ – Hastings and ‘Comes the Dawn’ – Shoffstall are all firmly pinned by the kettle!
If in doubt you can’t go wrong with a good old dollop of Dolly Parton - 'We cannot direct the wind but we can sure as hell adjust the sails'
What have been your highs & lows?
Highs in the early days came from amazing travel adventures – elephant riding, travelling the trans-siberian railway, working abroad in Azerbaijan - freedom and youthful confidence.
Making active choices around becoming a parent and business owner however leads to a roller coaster ride - so highs and lows have certainly played their part in shaping my life. Undiagnosed PND paved the way for debilitating episodes of depression and anxiety - not helped by the stress and worry child-raising brings and some rocky times professionally.
But the children give me so much happiness – giving birth naturally to my daughter after a very difficult, frightening experience with my 1st baby has to be one of my biggest highs and always will be. Being invited to join What’s On 4 as a co-Director with my now business partner Sam Willoughby was hugely exciting and now being part of a fantastic team means the ‘highs’ far outweigh the ‘lows’.
As we get older, people start to be lost from us, friendships change, parents pass on and one is more aware of one’s own mortality so I am all for seizing the highs whenever possible. Standing in a field with best friends watching Fleetwood Mac as the sun sets, swimming in the ocean at daybreak, laughing with the kids till I nearly wet myself (actually I did a bit!) – all moments to be clung to.
What do you think is the biggest issue facing women today?
When I was a young woman it was so much easier. I left school, went to do my degree (a random mix of English, Sociology and Women’s Studies) - with a grant (!) and all tuition fees paid, got to study in the States for FREE (!) left with very little debt, went travelling and had amazing adventures (the world seemed a safer place – especially for women then), came home, fell into a job in PR, fell into another, better job in events and then on a whim bought a London flat for less than £50k. Because I could. Now if you go to Uni you leave with massive debt, house buying is pie in sky for so many and good jobs harder to come by.
And women remain disadvantaged economically (hopefully that has improved somewhat in 20 years) BUT I feel women now must be very torn between a job and children with the weight of debt on them from student loans and huge mortgages. Add this to the fact that until we have shared parental leave and responsibility, women in general will continue to be under-utilised, underpaid and will fail to achieve their potential in the workplace. Cram in trying to invest into a pension too with the pressures above and I don’t know how I would have managed, what would have been sacrificed. Financial independence for new mothers is still hugely challenging. I feel for them and for future generations.
What advice do you have for other women?
Be kind to yourself! Talk to yourself as though you are your own BF! We are so hard on ourselves, often juggling far too much and racing about as life passes us by. At the end of each day as I sometimes struggle to sleep, I try to focus on 3 positive things that day has brought. Don’t compare yourself to anyone (esp on Facebook). You are brilliant, you are unique and you are doing pretty damn well at this living thing!
Do you think it’s important to have International Women’s Day and why?
Of course. My son and husband say to me ‘Why isn’t there and International men’s day then’ – and with a twinkle in my eye I explain (again) that every day is international men’s day! While globally such inequality remains then of course we should claim just one day to focus on the issues that impact women and long may it continue!