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As part of our celebrations for International Women’s Day, we asked Heather Green, one of our female leaders, to talk us through her career path and the events that shaped that journey.
I have been working full time for more than 40 years and my career path has not always taken a traditional route. Having a mother who became only the second female Chair of a Chamber of Commerce in the country, gave me an early view that being a woman was not going to be a barrier in my career.
I left school aged 16, as although I got decent GCSEs I didn’t want to stay in education any longer. My first job was as a library assistant at University of Manchester and during this period I had the best of both worlds, being in employment but also enjoying the university social life!
I never had a particular career goal in mind, but always had a strong drive to reduce the impact of social injustice, both in terms of policy and at an individual level.
In my career and also my role as a founding Trustee of a Christian charity, based in Hulme, Manchester, I transitioned from working with adults who required significant intervention to reduce their dependencies to a focus on ensuring the best start in life for children and young people.
I have often found myself challenging some of the established approaches, in particular those based on lowered expectations for young people who are perceived to be disadvantaged.
I was always eager to learn, and also understood that to be in roles where I could make a difference that I needed to study to a higher level, so I studied part-time whilst working full-time and bringing up a family.
I have had the privilege of working alongside some very experienced and generous leaders in the field of education. This is where I learnt the most not only about the subject, but probably more valuably, I watched and learnt how to be an effective manager and leader in the field of education and skills.
I wasn’t an apprentice but the experience convinced me of the benefits of working alongside an expert in their field. I went on to become the Managing Director of one of the largest and most successful apprenticeship training providers in the country and during that period over 7,000 local young people completed their apprenticeship, opening the door to a successful career.
During my 8 years at Oldham College I have continued to strive to ensure that the young people and adults who come to this college have the very best opportunity to achieve and progress.
My advice to other women starting on their career journey would be;
Always be clear about your purpose, and never lose your passion or compassion.
I have a sign in my college office that states: “If your why isn’t big enough, your excuses will be.”
Maintain your integrity and honesty.
Thomas Sowell: “When you want to help people you tell them the truth, when you want to help yourself you tell them what they want to hear.”
It is my hope that in some small way, my journey and the messages behind it will be an inspiration not only for my own daughters and granddaughters, but also other young women.