Clare Cooper – Work hard and stay humble

Hello! I’m Clare. So, I started my career as an apprentice straight from school within manufacturing. I then moved into the office supporting fuctions and progessed into operational management. I then decided to change my career path because of my love for mentoring and coaching. I went into learning and development six years ago. I completed my teaching degree in 2022.

I started in the leisure industry at 16. I was offered an apprenticeship and have stayed in manufacturing all of my career. I have studied continuously over the last 10 years. Completing a BA Degree, MBA and a Teaching Degree.  I have also carried out training courses for business improvement. My challenges have probably been my own imposter sydrome and not believing in myself enough. I have overcome then, by having the confidence to believe in myself. I always say if I can do it, anyone can do it.  My setbacks, have always made me more determined.

An important initative that I feel passionate about is the development of others. I am so passoniate about giving others the confidence to believe in their abilities. It is great to see others achieve further skills and knowledge. My drive and determination was probably from not always feeling good enough in my early roles. I was in a tough industry, I was one of the only women within the business and at that time, it was hard to fit in and be recognised as someone who had the ability to do just as well as others.  I have always worked within male dominated organisations, and it drives you more to want to prove yourself. It is great to say I have also worked within Production, I started as an apprentice on the shopfloor, and it was tough. I feel I am now a strong minded woman, who can confidently speak about my past experiences the good and the bad.

My biggest achievement has to be my study journey. I have achived 3 degrees, whilst working full time and being a mum. My biggest lesson has been not believing in myself and letting the imposter syndrome take over. 

Without a doubt I feel my gender has bought unnecessary challenges to my career, I have worked in male dominated industries for many years. It has changed a lot now, but it was very challenging in the beginning to prove myself. 

Ouside of work I enjoy hiking. I do a lot of mountain climbing and long distance walking. I also enjoy reading and listening to podcasts.

The Mantra I live my life by is: If believe in yourself, anything is possible. Do not worry if you have to change career direction, that is ok. Stand proud, you are probably achieving more then you realise! If you feel like the imposter in the room, almost all the others within the room will be feeling the same. Life is about managing expectations, not those of others, but your own.

One woman who has impacted my life greatly is my mum was a hard working career driven woman. She was the director of a large business and worked her way also from a junior position. She faced challenges too, and I can now look back, and see why she felt the way she did. We watched her work very hard in a tough industry. My key motivators are seeing other people gain confidence and suceed.  Also, when someone purely says “thank you, I needed that help”

Regarding gender imbalance I still think there is more to do. I think there has been a lot done. I think industries still have an inbalance. 

If I were to give advice on women going into management roles I would say succession planning…. Putting in a strategy to develop and train more women through the levels of the business. Mentoring and coaching would be a good straegy for any business. Be confident and transparent. The only way you learn, is by being honest about what you do not know. I know this is what has helped me. I know my weaknesses and I always try to work on them. Belive in yourself and your knowledge. We are normally within these roles, because of our expertise and trusted to pass this on to others. 

What I would say to my 16-year-old self: Them exam results do not define you or your future. 

In 3 words, I feel that feminism is:

Fighting for men and women to be treated equally.
Being aware and providing a balance
Challenging at times

If there is anything I could do differently, this would this be: To have had confidence in myself earlier in my career to change  career direction and study

Work hard, and stay humble. Stick to your integrity and values, someone will appreciate them. 

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