Joanna Penn: Changing my career despite being blind

We are pleased to feature Joanna Penn as an inspirational woman on #YesSheCan. A few years ago Joanna became registered as blind. She didn’t let it stop her, her positive outlook and desire to help others has allowed her to change her career and give her purpose.


Currently working as an Empowerment Coach Joanna supports SMEs and individuals to develop themselves through coaching, resilience training and public speaking.


How did you get to where you are?

I started my journey towards self-employment last Spring after several failed job interviews. I was beginning to feel a little frustrated due to unproven disability discrimination. Even the big organisations are unwilling to recruit an independent, visually impaired person.

What struggles have you had?


I have suffered from several, medical conditions which have been a big part of my life and I had to make a lot of changes due to this. I have also suffered from discrimination since losing my sight and people not believing that I am good enough.


How do you deal with your struggles?

By keeping my purpose in mind. I love helping people and love seeing results, this keeps me going and feedback from clients and friends help me keep me inspirational – I have a post on the fridge that gives me the reasons I am inspirational.


I am quite a strong person and my parents encouraged me to push through the pain and find another way to get round it. They continued to support me throughout even if I had messed up.


If I could go back in time I would tell myself that despite the challenges you will experience, find yourself by listening to your inner voice. She is amazing. Don’t listen to the negative nelly that is there – she’s not you. I’d give myself (any other women reading this) the following advice:

Don’t be afraid of trying something new. Be present in your situation and aware of your surroundings (inner and external)Take time out to experience the world. She is your oyster.


Why is #YesSheCan important to you

As women we have fought for many things and we need to keep getting positive results. By showing others that “yes she can” it offers other females to see the benefits of being proactive.


How do you think we should deal with disabilities in the workplace?

We need to work on discrimination, it is happening too often and it affects a person’s model of the world, which in turn stops them developing suitable strategies.


Ignorance is a key part of this too. It’s important to educate and spread the message that a disability doesn’t have to affect the way that you treat someone.


What does the future hold?

I am currently studying and by May 2019 I will be qualified as an NLP Coach. I’m looking forward to working on my business and I’m knocking down the barriers that have held me back in the past.


If you were inspired by how Joanna is thriving despite her injury, read Sarah May’s blog about how she’s turning a kidney failure diagnosis into £1M for charity.

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