Sector: Leadership coaching
After a difficult childhood, Claire Walton says that “you can do anything that you work hard for”.
Where do you call home?
I was born in Middlesbrough, lived all over England and have settled in Ingleby Barwick for the past nine years.
Tell us about your role?
I am a high-performance leadership coach and mentor and most recently a best-selling author of my book “Super Neuro You”.
I provide clients with an opportunity to develop themselves, as well as improve their performance and potential. This is through coaching both individually and collectively in teams and groups.
I also speak at events and write articles on leadership.
How did you get to where you are today?
I had a difficult childhood with parents who weren’t happy together. My mother had mental health issues, and the problems between my parents affected my childhood and influenced my adult years for a very long time. I hated school and left home at 18.
I started working in HR and, in my early 30s, took my first director role, which led to executive director roles for many well-known brands in the UK and Europe. I juggled my career and cared for my daughter as a single mother. I worked hard and excelled at my job until I eventually decided to try working for myself. After three years of self-employment, I was lured back into the director roles for another couple of years. Still eager to leave corporate life behind, I took a year out to study for an MBA degree, aged 45, and passed with a distinction. Me and my daughter completed our master’s degree together from the same university at the same time. My daughter is my best friend and I am proud of both our achievements. After the MBA, I set up my coaching business, Leaders Are Making a Difference (MAD), where I love coaching leaders in a variety of contexts, individually and in teams and groups.
What struggles or obstacles did you face along the way?
I have worked in a very male-dominated environment and have had to navigate the ‘boys club’, ‘macho’ cultures, sex discrimination and sexual harassment and bullying.
It has helped me greatly to have a strong sense of identity, strong and clear values and the confidence to speak up for myself and to know when enough is enough.
I have balanced my career and being a single mum by having very good disciplines and not trying to be perfect. I have always known my daughter’s needs as a child were my priority – I outsourced anything else, other than work and play.
Describe the moment you first got a feel for success?
When I was sitting in my office at home surrounded by my favourite things, looking out at my cherry blossom tree and knowing I had just hit no 1 in the book charts, outselling some of my favourite authors. I realised I had achieved almost every goal I had ever set myself and I was living my best life, just as I had imagined it over a decade before.
Do you have any advice for aspiring young females?
Go for what you want, not what you think you should do.
Read, read, read, listen, learn, try new things. Say YES, even if it scares you.
Say NO to have more time to say YES.
Find excellent role models.
Ask for help, advise, support.
Stop worrying what other people think.
Stop comparing yourself to others.
Do not accept unacceptable behaviour from others and at the same time, be compassionate towards people who behave unacceptably and seek to ease their suffering – provided this does not harm you in doing so.
What advice would you give to your younger self?
You can do anything you choose to work hard for.
You are more capable than you think you are.
Being a woman is your advantage not your disadvantage.
What three words inspire you and encourage a positive path?
You’re good enough!
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