Make your mark: Angela Geddes
Angela Geddes shares her experience of a coaching programme equipping women with the skills they need to develop their careers.
Make Your Mark is a coaching programme designed to develop attendees’ confidence, presence and communication skills. Baillie Gifford’s gender employee network, BShe, sponsors women-only cohorts to support women’s career progression at the firm.
We catch up with Angela Geddes, Director of Ops Transformation who took part in the first women-only cohort to find out what impact it’s had on her and her team.
How did you find out about Make Your Mark?
Baillie Gifford’s HR team suggested that I become part of the initial Make Your Mark cohort, composed of 12 women from across the firm. I had recently been promoted into a new role, and I was advised that the course content could be beneficial in supporting me as I took on more responsibility. I was keen to develop my management and leadership skills and felt assured that Make Your Mark would provide learnings to help me to achieve that goal.
Going into the programme, what were your expectations?
I had no preconceptions. It was a new development programme for Baillie Gifford, so I had nobody to ask about what to expect. But I was very open-minded. The idea of a strong female network working with Susan Room, a talented and capable lady who pioneered Make Your Mark, was an interesting proposition.
Tell us about your experience of taking part in Make Your Mark.
Make Your Mark has four modules, focusing on the following key areas: managing the inner critic; building and maintaining confidence and presence; speaking with confidence and active listening and voice skills.
I found the first session both thought-provoking and quite emotional. We were asked to write down how we thought other people perceived us. I wrote down what my inner critic was saying, which made me realise that I had built up a negative view of how people saw me. Susan encouraged me to reflect on what I had written down and question my thinking about why people would say or think that. Since taking part in Make Your Mark, I’ve been able to challenge my inner critic rather than allow it to take hold.
What did you get out of the programme?
It made me challenge my thinking around how I think I’m perceived by others and the impact that has on me. I left equipped with tools to tackle difficult conversations or daunting situations. In my role, I often present to senior people in the firm. I now take the time to be equal in the room and realise that if they ask me challenging questions, I don’t have to feel pressured to provide an answer on the spot. I can take the time to reflect before getting back to them.
I’ve also used the tools and techniques I learned with my team and a range of project teams, especially when having constructive dialogue to achieve a positive outcome.
Since taking part in Make Your Mark, I’ve been able to challenge my inner critic, rather than allow it to take hold.
Did you discover anything about yourself that you didn’t already know?
I realised that I’m too hard on myself. Make Your Mark also encouraged me to see how much I care about people and the benefits of sharing the learnings with my team and other individuals in the firm, to help us all to have better conversations. I have further developed my confidence as a result, particularly when it comes to having challenging conversations more constructively.
What was the most useful learning you took from Make Your Mark?
Never underestimate the power of your inner critic. It could easily hold you back, if you don’t get a handle on it.
Would you recommend Make Your Mark to others?
I recommend it. However, it comes with the caveat that to get the most out of it, you have to bring your whole self to the programme. You also need to practice what you learn to develop. If you’re willing to do that, I do not doubt that you will come away with tools and techniques to support you in your professional life and beyond.