In this episode, Donna is joined by Antoinette Oglethorpe - a multi-award-winning consultant, coach, speaker and author who specialises in career management and mentoring.
She has created unique models, tools and templates to empower employees to take ownership of their career development with support from their manager and organisation. In the past few years, she has supported multiple career management programmes or initiatives at international organisations in the United Nations System. She was a contributor to the award-winning Virtual Career Labs at the United Nations Development Programme, which won two Fuel50 awards in 2017 as outstanding career management initiatives.
In 2012 - after 25 years’ experience as a Learning and Development Director for Accenture, Avanade and FTSE 500 companies - Antoinette founded her eponymous training and coaching company, Antoinette Oglethorpe Ltd. She speaks at events across the globe on subjects like the impact of mentoring and the importance of career conversations to engage, keep and develop leaders, among other talent development topics.
Her book, Grow Your Geeks: A Handbook for Developing Leaders in High-Tech Organisations, achieved number 1 Bestseller status on Amazon in the Leadership and Management category.
Donna O'Toole is the Founder of August, and she has had the pleasure of supporting entrepreneurs, business leaders and teams to win the most prestigious awards in the world. She has seen, first-hand, how receiving awards and recognition has motivated teams, solved problems, supercharged brands and raised their profiles, helping businesses to grow and do even more good things for their employees, their industry and their community.
Hi, I'm Donna at all and you're listening to my exclusive winning awards podcast. Over the years, I've had the pleasure of supporting entrepreneurs, business leaders and teams to win the most prestigious awards in the world. I've seen firsthand how receiving awards and recognition has motivated teams solve problems, supercharge brands and raise profiles, helping businesses to grow and do even more good things for their employees, their industry and their community. In this podcast, I'll be sharing valuable awards, insights, tips and inspirational stories to make sure that you get the recognition that you deserve, so that you can go on and achieve your dreams. So what are you waiting for? It's time to start winning. Hello, and welcome to another episode of the winning awards podcast. Today I'm really pleased to welcome Antoinette focus on who is a multi award winning consultant coach, speaker and author who specialises in career management and mentoring. In 2012. After 25 years experience as a learning and development director, Antoinette founded her training and coaching company. She speaks at events across the globe on subjects like the impact of mentoring and the importance of career conversations to engage key and develop leaders amongst other top talent development topics. Her book grow your geeks, a handbook for developing leaders in high tech organisations achieve number one bestseller status on Anson and Antoinette is a great champion for awards being both a winner and a judge. So I've invited her here today to share her thoughts on the difference that awards have made to her career and how she utilises them to raise her profile as a key person of influence in her industry. Thanks for joining us, internet and congratulations on your recent award wins.Unknown:
Thank you so much. It's lovely to be here on it.Donna O'Toole:
That's okay. So tell us an intranet after so many successful use in in l&d learning and development, you took the plunge and set up your own business, which is very brave. So what influenced this decision? And what was what was your vision then?Unknown:
Well, I've always had a little bit of a dream of going it alone, I think, you know, I was thought that there would come a point where my corporate career came to an end, I worked for a lot of international organisations, and the career path tended to lead to America, and I wasn't really ready to change location. And then the prompt actually came when my husband and I decided to relocate to the northeast of England, back to his hometown of Newcastle. And there aren't many, if any jobs for international learning and development directors in Newcastle. So I thought, right, this is my opportunity. I didn't have I didn't have much of a vision at the time, I think my vision was really not to ever have to ask my husband for money. Firstly, and secondly, if I could to actually match the salary I had earned as an employee. And thirdly, I had this little dream that one day I might be paid to travel business class, for my own business, as I used to when I worked in a corporate.Donna O'Toole:
Oh, fantastic. You know, I love that that's such a great answer to that. Because we as entrepreneurs, get asked our vision and things like that all the time, don't we? And I love your honesty that because I'll tell you a secret. My vision, when I set up my business, was actually to wear nice shoes is to go years and years ago because I used to work in the medical industry. And in part of my job, I had to wear horrible plastic clogs. So I always had a vision that one day I'd run a business where I got to go to amazing meetings and wear amazing shoes. Right now Isn't that great? And it's so it's so important as well, and particularly be someone like you who's one, I'm the same when you're working with people all the time. And understanding what their vision is, I think that truly what comes from their heart and where they want to be. And so in your space in, in talent development. I suppose that's really relevant right now because we've seen such a huge change in the workplace over the last year or so. And I've really noticed that that's actually become a bit of a trend in the awards arena as well to actually recognise and reward the employers who are doing the good things for their employees, and creating really, places to work where people really want to be or enable them to be at home, etc, etc. So, from your point of view, it'd be interesting to know what you've been seeing and what do you They've kind of big, big challenges are for employers now and how they can kind of navigate those and attract and keep their talent in the business.Unknown:
Now, the big challenge for employers, which they are realising they're noticing is that they have to focus on what the employee is looking for and the employee experience, they're now talking about employee experience, rather than employee engagement, and actually dovetail what they need as an organisation with what the employer is looking for, in terms of their work experience. And I think the pandemic has been a real opportunity. I mean, it was an awful experience for all of us in all our different ways. But it's actually helped people learn a lot about what's important to them, both from a physical and mental well being, but also in terms of their values, and what role work plays in, you know, the kind of life they want to lead for themselves and for their families.Donna O'Toole:
Yeah, absolutely. And something else that we've noticed as well is, both with clients and organisations that were working with, for their employees. And also the other way around is that the importance of that reward and recognition of what everyone's doing so importance to the employer of Actually, these initiatives working for people and, you know, getting feedback and, and measuring and monitoring how that's working, but also then the importance for the employees, and particularly actually, in your space, that sort of HR and l&d teams who are actually often implementing the things that are needed in order to make the employees be able to access things from everywhere, or have digital learning or, you know, or whatever that is. So have you had it? Have you come across any kind of experience of that sort of reward and recognition side of things for for employees and or anything that you've noticed from that yourself as an as an award winner?Unknown:
Yeah, I think we need to look at reward and recognition in its broadest terms. And you know, not just about salaries and promotions, but actually about what employees are looking for from their careers. And what we're hearing from a lot of our clients is that their organisation health surveys or their engagement surveys are showing that employees feel that opportunities are limited for them to develop their careers. And there's some real misunderstandings if you like, or outdated thinking about career progression in organisations. Because if you just limit it to promotions and pay rises, then there will always be a limit to opportunities. But if you broaden it out to people's employability, and enjoy ability, then it opens up all sorts of opportunities for both managers and organisations. And actually, when we think about what success looks like for us, just like you with your students, maybe without, with not asking my husband for the money, it's not necessarily about those massive milestones and achievements. It's actually about you know, a lifestyle and you know, the kind of work we want to be doing and who we want to be working with and where we want to be working. And there are lots of opportunities that managers and organisations have to address that which is exactly around that purpose on employee experience, employee wellbeing, as long as they have these conversations and actually ask their employees Yeah, ofDonna O'Toole:
course it makes me think of I'm trying to think who said it but I listen to a podcast it's about what makes your heart sing, isn't it? You know, actually you might be able to do your job brilliantly but doesn't mean it's giving you that personal kind of satisfaction that you would really love. So yeah, I think that's something I try I try and build that into our company and the way that we work with our teams you know, what are you enjoying it You like it? Is it what do you want to do more of it? Or do you want to do something different? You know what we're all like you say, it's really interesting to see that broadening of the horizon I love your term, their employability and enjoyability because I think the enjoyability factor is the bit that has been perhaps forgotten over the previous decade or so. I'm not sure if it was ever there before. Absolutely. So from your perspective, then obviously you're you're working with organisations to support them to make these decisions and to get the information they need from their teams etc. And I know that you're you know, you're busy lady running your own business and having to also make sure at the same time that your business the wheels keep turning and that you your profile is out there as well. So we've both been part of the key person of influence programme with, with dent, which has been really successful. And it's great See, you've got a fabulous book out there. So you've hit some brilliant milestones, and I know that you're very well respected in your area, what do you think has, it'd be interesting for me to know what you think the impact has been of actually entering or being shortlisted and winning awards over this period of time for you as an entrepreneur?Unknown:
So I think it turns out, I think there's a number of different benefits in lots of different areas. So if I start from actually just the entry process, I think, you know, whatever awards, whether you get nominated for them, or you decide to enter them yourself, there is some form of exactly like an application process. And that in itself, I have found a really valuable opportunity, because it really helps you think about your business, your strategy, your approach, and successful businesses hit certain things. And that's what awards are looking for. So if you've actually got gaps in how to answer certain questions, it really helps you think, besides Oh, yeah, you know, what am I missing here? And so that's one area that I think is really helpful. And I think from a personal basis, I'll be honest, you know, I'm somebody that values mission. Most people in training development and our you know, we like to have some form of recognition, we're likely to enjoy what we do. So the personal recognition you get from being nominated and shortlisted. And of course, if you win, is, is very valuable. Because Yeah, being a business owner can be a bit of a lonely, lonely job. But then, of course, the actual you know, what it does for your business as an entrepreneur, I think it really establishes your credibility, and sets you apart from others. And my space, like a lot of spaces that people operating is very crowded. Yeah, there's lots of people that that focus on leadership development, and we have a bit of a specialism within that in terms of career management and mentoring, but it's still around developing leadership and management skills. So I think anything that sets you apart from others can be really valuable. And also establish your credibility, because it's quite hard for clients to validate your expertise or what you're like in this space, unless they've worked with you before. So to actually get new opportunities and new people interested, and awards, it gives them that reassurance that validation.Donna O'Toole:
Yeah, and obviously, I would agree with you answer that, because that's my space. But I was just gonna say, just on a point that you've just made, I've noticed myself when I'm looking to buy something now or looking to book a holiday or anything like that. I'm scrutinising those websites more than I ever have done before, since the pandemic, because we heard of so many, you know, things, or unfortunate things happening for businesses that I think now that credibility in that authority, actually, as consumers of anything, whether it's a business service or products that we want to buy, we will need a little bit more reassurance nowadays than we actually even perhaps needed before. So I think you're right with the awards from the kind of credibility factor and or authority, it just makes those buying decisions. So much easier and quicker for customers.Unknown:
Yeah, absolutely. And I think it just it, it gets remembered and noticed as well, I mean, people, people love photos, enough photos, people dressed up. So get out, if you post photos of you dressed up added awards to on social media, people will notice and they'll remember, so even people I haven't seen for ages, you know, will say oh, you know, well done on your board, or, you know, oh yeah, this is somebody that's close to the wall. And so, Hey, have you got room big enough for all your awards? And, but it's because they've noticed and yeah, in a really positive way.Donna O'Toole:
Yeah, absolutely. You're right. I don't think we'll ever lose that actual human interest in other humans as well Louis so you do really notice those photos and actually, for you know, for a lot of companies and for individuals, if you even if you haven't won, you've been at the event, you've been shortlisted, you've had a brilliant time that's showcasing you know, where you're at and aligning you with the other people that are there as well at the time so and I always say, you know, when it comes to kind of buying it's a bit like going into intuition. and choosing a bottle of wine. If you don't know what you want, you probably go for one of the bottles with an award on it because you think that's safe, you know? So it's similar for us as human beings as well. Okay, so what do you think, going forward, now we're all sort of looking, looking forward to coming to the end of another year that's been tumultuous, I'd say up and down. And actually, for a lot of people very, very busy as well, getting back to a new way of life or new work. So as a, as a woman in business, do you think we've got any sort of additional challenges at this time to kind of navigate as we head into 2022.Unknown:
I'm not a young working mother. So I can't really speak for a lot of women in business. I think people that you know, the people that are balancing those work and home responsibilities, they might be challenged, because we're going back into that, but at least hopefully, the kids will be at school, maybe I have a different stage of my career. And so I don't have that to worry about. I think, however, that the women, conversation is still going on. And in fact, I was talking at a women's forum just yesterday about career development. And, you know, a number of people said, Well, you know, we work in a very male dominated industry, how different is that? And, and actually, in the morning, I was delivering a webinar on imposter syndrome called silence, the imposter. And again, I was asked, Is this something that women suffer from more than men? And, and I think, you know, there is something about our humility, our modesty, our confidence, whatever, actually, we need to recognise that confidence comes from taking action, don't wait to take action, and to build your confidence, because it doesn't happen that way. And I think our experience of the pandemic means that quite a few people may have lost their confidence, and therefore be reticent about putting themselves forward for things. And I think Women's Awards are a great opportunity for women in business, then you to hear the awards scenario, start there. Why not? You know, yeah, they are catering for you. And whether you are successful or otherwise, what is always great about Women's Awards, are the networks of people that you meet, not just at the awards ceremonies, but also in the lead up to it to a lot of the awards organisers and actually have lunches for people that have entered or as well as networks for the people that have shortly been shortlisted and one, and that those are great networks to be part of. I just really encourage people to just, you know,Donna O'Toole:
give it a go. Yeah, it's interesting, you say that antonacci, because we notice, or, we would do some research, actually, for a white paper on the different types of wood entrance and who does and who doesn't, etc. And there, there is definitely much more imposter syndrome for awards for women that we noticed, and there is so much for men when it comes to putting themselves forward. So it's probably about an 8020 split, actually, if it's if it's male or female, putting themselves forward. However, the majority of the women that we work with are putting forward their team or their project. So they seem to be much more comfortable with putting that forward, and not focusing so much on themselves, but focusing on the actual project or the actual team they've been working with. Whereas a lot of men do that as well. But I'm just saying there's also for the individual based awards, we will tend to have more male entrance for those. And it will be really nice to see that balance out a bit more. But I've always say the same as you with Women's Awards, you know, you're in a competition, the same as your room with any awards. So you know, you're, you're out there to win. However, the support that comes around Women's Awards is really great. And there's a lot of networking and there's a lot more events and opportunities as well, in addition to get involved in and sometimes I think people think, Oh, you know, maybe, you know, that was where there won't be any potential customers there for me Well actually, you're not there to get customers you're there to make connections you're there to celebrate the success that you've had, and to help drive you forward for the future. So there's there's so much to be said for them and I know they've been really positive for you as well and certainly you've met some great people through them. I'm having aUnknown:
bath. Absolutely. And yeah, I really recommend that me my my target customers are very rarely bear if at all. Yeah, that doesn't mean to say that they're not great communities. Yeah and great networks. And I think you know, every every award that you enter, it's an experiment and a learning exercise. And in the first two awards, I entered, I did get shortlisted. But it wasn't the most positive experience for me. Because it turned out to be, it turns out to be an audience that wasn't necessarily mine. It was terribly academic. And, and that wasn't really me. And but if I had let that put me off for entering awards, then the next one I entered, I actually won. So I went, I went on that entirely. And, and it came as a huge surprise. Yeah. So you know, don't don't prejudge, let let the judges do the job. And if you're not successful, then learn from that. I mean, some of the awards give great feedback. I mean, how, how often do you get a bit of a performance review as a business owner? Yeah, very rarely. And I found that amazing. Yeah, so that's really helpful.Donna O'Toole:
Yeah, definitely. As the judge as well, when you're writing the feedback, it's you know, you want to, you're really conscious of knowing that that could really make a big difference to that business's future, if you can identify a gap that they're not covering, or even just the difference to the results that they have in the next awards that they go forward into. So it's definitely really, really valuable and definitely worth it always worth asking as well. If you don't get the feedback directly ask the judge asked if they would organise this, you know, can I get some, because it can help, we will say you win or you learn, that's there the opportunities where you might win and learn. So what have you got to look forward to now for the next coming year? And tonight? What can we look forward to seeing you doing?Unknown:
So Well, in terms of business? You know, we're busy again, I think lots of corporations, which is our target group, are recognising the value of career conversations and mentoring, in terms of improving the employee experience, improving employee satisfaction. And those kinds of things are particularly prevalent around the end of the year in the beginning of the year. So we're pretty busy with that. Most organisations of all time, especially we work with a lot of international organisations, and a lot of them are recognising that this online stuff has actually opened up a lot of avenues. So we have had one client asked about face to face, UK client asked about face to face. But I think you know, there'll be a lot of us staying online, so that we can reach more people. So. So that's us business wise, in terms of awards. And Well, again, I work with international clients. So we have gone International, I was very proud thrilling to Stevie awards for women this year. Brilliant. And I want a silver and I want a bronze. So I'd really rather like to win a gun. And, you know, next year, it would be lovely to win an industry award. So or or at least get shortlisted for an industry award, say something in the learning and development space. Yeah. And so that will be our our focus next year.Donna O'Toole:
Excellent. And if you've got any last words of advice, intranet for businesses, or employers or employees out there, what would that be for the for what's coming up for the future?Unknown:
Well, you won't be surprised to hear me say it's about mentoring, getting a mentor and getting a support network around you. I think, yeah, especially in business, it can be a very lonely experience. You mentioned, we're both part of the key person of influence network that has been really valuable for me. So I have a mentor that I work with, I have a buddy that I work with, but you also know Dominic, I have the key person of influence network that I'm part of, and I'm part of the mastermind group. So I think you know, actually getting support from others, you know, and specialists in their fields, people like you. And you know, don't try and do it on your own. That's myDonna O'Toole:
guess. Yeah. Oh, I agree. That's a great bit of advice. Thank you. Thank you so much. It's been really lovely catching up with you. And I'm sure there's lots that people can really learn from and enjoy from your little chat today. And I will look forward to catching up with you again soon. Thank you, Donna Smith. Lovely to chat. Thank you for listening to this episode of my winning awards podcast. If you enjoyed it or found it helpful, please share it on Twitter and LinkedIn. And if you have any questions please head over to crafted by Auguste comm where you can find out more about winning awards and contact me. On the website you can also take our free awards test, which will identify your award strengths and tell you how likely you are to win. I really hope you've been able to take away some ideas today so that you can go ahead and win awards have an even bigger impact on the world and achieve your dreams.