Elaine Stroud got a part time job at The Entrepreneurs Forum on her return from a 10 year stint in New Zealand. Today she is CEO of the company.
Where do you call home?
Ponteland now, although I’ve called many places home over the years.
Tell us about your role?
I am CEO of The Entrepreneurs Forum which supports hundreds of business founders via our mentoring and events programmes.
How did you get to where you are today?
I did well at school and went to a top university which eventually led to a training contract with PricewaterhouseCoopers in London where I trained and qualified as a Chartered Accountant. I loved travelling and exploring the world and so managed two gap years – one in France where I studied at Chambery University and learned to speak French, and another backpacking around the world.
So, after qualifying in London, I took a three month break to work for a youth charity in Namibia, before transferring to PwC Auckland, New Zealand. I loved the lifestyle and gained great work experience. New Zealand is a small country which meant I got really varied work experience at a much earlier stage in my career than I would have done if I stayed in London – it’s a bit like the North East.
My two-year secondment became 10 and I’d got married, had two children and been promoted up the ranks but it was a long way from home and in 2011 we moved the family back to the North East.
I took a part time job in finance at The Entrepreneurs Forum as I thought it sounded interesting and a good way to build networks in the region as I didn’t know anyone or anything about the business landscape. I loved the variety, the events and the people I met, and my responsibilities grew over the years. So, in 2021 when I was given the opportunity to take over as CEO I jumped at the chance.
What struggles or obstacles did you face along the way?
Definitely managing the juggling of being a mum and working and building a career. I found it really hard coming back from my maternity leaves to work to get the balance right and I lacked confidence that I was as good professionally as I’d been pre-children. I didn’t always manage and struggled for a while but eventually through my role at the Entrepreneurs Forum, I made it work.
Describe the moment you first got a feel for success?
I haven’t really had a lightbulb moment but when I look back at my achievements, I think I should have done. Sometimes just reflecting on your own achievements can be that “lightbulb” where you realise that you are pretty good at what you do, and you do deserve the success you’re experiencing.
Do you have any advice for aspiring young females?
We all make mistakes and that’s OK and normal. Learn from them and you’ll grow.
What advice would you give to your younger self?
Don’t worry about what other people think as much. Just have a go and see what happens.
What three words inspire you and encourage a positive path?
Nothing to lose.
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