Women in Leadership series: Jennifer Beard
‘Really look into the commitment and requirements of the course’
Tell us about yourself/your career journey at Sky
I started in Sky Business as a National Account Manager and I’ve progressed over into Sky Retail where I now have a team of eight direct reports and around 100 advisors under my leadership. I was promoted into my role during the course.
What’s been the best thing about the course for you?
I’ve always felt that there was some stigma attached to Women in Leadership, although I couldn’t quite put my finger on what it was. Starting the Coursera course (a foundation block of learning as part of the Women into Leadership programme) really helped me to understand from a wider point of view how women are often perceived in terms of opportunities for development and role progression. Learning about impostor syndrome really resonated with me! I think that Sky are particularly aware of the challenges that women sometimes face in the workplace, so they really go the extra mile to encourage gender balance and create and all-inclusive workplace.
I’ve also really enjoyed networking with some of the fabulous women that I have met on the course, and believe it or not, the video conferences! It has been incredibly powerful to share a seat at the table with these inspirational female leaders on the same journey, that have really lit up my day when things have seemed tough, and celebrated my successes when things are going well. It’s also been amazing to spend some time with some fantastic ladies that really ‘get it’ – where I am in my career, where I am as a mum, and how I’m working on balancing it all.
Have you learnt anything about yourself since being on the programme?
Absolutely loads! I’ve learned that it’s OK to take some time to reflect, and that sometimes 80% is good enough. I’ve also learned that being a leader isn’t for everyone. Sometimes I get to do the fun things, but sometimes I have to make tough decisions, and that’s OK too.
What do you think makes a great leader?
Passion for what you do; a genuine love for your people; courage; determination; and the ability to rally the team with a great pep talk!
What has been the biggest challenge?
Building in time in my busy schedule to study, especially whilst learning a new role. I think it’s easy to put off completing the modules or missing a few hours each week or planning on playing catch up but that never really works out. I literally have to block out time in my diary to dedicate to my WIL course in order to stay on top of things. In the long run both myself and Sky benefit, and I’m fortunate enough to have a leader who is totally on board with my Women into Leadership involvement. My line manager is always checking in with me, asking if I need support, encouraging my development and growth – all of that makes a huge difference.
What would you say to anyone thinking of putting themselves forward for a similar course in the future?
Really look into the commitment and requirements of the course: there is a lot involved, a lot of study time, reading, and a lot of putting yourself out there. Being a leader isn’t for everyone, but if it is for you, then seize the opportunity with both hands – you’ll be more than welcome to sit at the table.