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What led me to Leaders in Heels?

Jackie CookAt 16, I wanted to get married, have a family and be a PA.

At 41, I am single, own my own home, have a dog and run my own successful marketing consultancy businesses operating across South and West Yorkshire, accomplished at supporting international manufacturing businesses at board level.

To make this change I realise I’ve removed my own glass ceiling as I was expecting myself to fill a certain role that our culture is geared towards. My life has evolved, as everyone’s does, it doesn’t always go to plan, your experiences change you, relationships don’t always work out, you meet new people who inspire you, you experience health problems and overall your passions and dreams change.

I have had all the above in my life, and a lot of it in the last seven years, some challenges including the end of my relationship which meant cancelling the wedding, the realisation that the large corporate world with the senior level organisational politics that is often involved is not for me. That time in my life led me to suffer with daily anxiety attacks. Even with the low self-confidence and self-esteem I was struggling with, I recognised something had to change.

Thankfully I have some amazing business mentors, former colleagues and friends and I had an idea for a business – marketing support for SME manufacturing businesses with no in-house marketing.  So, in 2011, I took a pot of savings to live off, about half the salary I had been on, and resigned from my full-time national Marketing Manager role. It was scary, as I had no work lined up and so I set about starting my own business.

It has been a rollercoaster journey but six years later I am in business, with clients in Leeds, Barnsley, Rotherham and Sheffield. I have a team of sub-contractors who I work with to bring in expertise on particular projects.  I have brought in HR, IT, Admin and Accounts to support the business and me with these specialist skills.  I’ve had to hire and fire as work has ebbed and flowed.

There is so much help out there and so many business people and organisations willing to help another small business – it is amazing. I’ve had to take on sales, develop account management skills the list in endless of what I’ve learnt in six years and there is still so much to learn.

2014/15 was a tough year as my Dad became ill and passed away in the October and then I became ill needing surgery in April 2015, it took a few months to get back on track but by the end of 2015 and into 2016 the business went really well. I was feeling healthy and business grew, I hired staff and we doubled in turnover 2 years running.

This meant in 2016 I managed to do what I’d been wanting to do since my relationship split 6 years earlier, I managed to buy a 2-bed house with a garden, I knew my dog would love that, but to give us both the outside space too as we had been in a 1 bed flat with no garden.

So, with this back drop at the end of 2017, after some business setbacks I was looking for something to help me with developing my goals, future direction and keep me being more positive on a day-to-day basis. This is when I found Leaders in Heels, an Australian concept with a range of products to support women identify and achieve their dreams, whatever they may be.  I recognised the values of being passionate, creative, innovative, confident, determined and kind as being a part of who I am.

These products, in particular the Phenomenal Woman Planner and the Make your Mark Journal have helped me change my mindset this year, identify and focus on my goals not just at work but in my personal life too.

As someone who has struggled with anxiety and self-confidence they have helped me recognise how much I have achieved and got in my life, personally – independence, my own home, my dog, friends and family, and professionally – set up a regional, profitable business, gained Chartered status, Fellowship of my professional body, a Masters degree, I am a mentor and marketing speaker, have great mentors, clients, colleagues and business network.  I have a clear focus on my goals along with my wider vision/legacy including:

  • Raising the profile of the manufacturing sector for the diversity, capability and careers available;
  • Increasing marketing representation at board level with a focus on ROI to prove added value;
  • Increasing gender diversity in STEM careers particularly in management and board level roles within manufacturing.

The Leaders in Heels products give you a weekly focus on the positive things – the wins, what you are grateful for.  Along with a monthly review which makes me realise how much I do and stop beating myself up for not making enough progress instead of enjoying my success!

One of my core values, that I identified on this journey, and makes me happy is helping others achieve their goals.  I do this in every part of my life, through my consultancy business, mentoring, and my friendships.  I see Leaders in Heels products as a way to leave a legacy of a way to help other women open up their thinking, consider other possibilities to…

Dream, Define and Do!

Jackie Cook