Katie Woods-Ruddick found finding a good work-life balance a real challenge while her children were growing up. Today she works as a HR director for PX limited and hopes her children have recognised and picked up her strong work ethic
Where do you call home?
Guisborough in North Yorkshire.
Tell us about your role?
I am a human resources director for PX Limited.
How did you get to where you are today?
I started as an apprentice in a sales environment, but after a few years moved into a range of development roles. This was where I knew I had found my true passion – developing others, supporting and guiding them is a privilege. Being in charge of people’s development is significant and I recognised that I needed to complete some additional studies to ensure that I had the skills to be effective as well as recognised as credible, so I completed a part time degree alongside my full-time job.
The natural progression was to move into human resources and again I wanted to ensure that I had the right skills and knowledge to progress in this field. Alongside my on-the-job learning, I completed my CIPD qualifications at level 7.
Outside of formal education and development, I have also worked with some incredibly talented people from whom I have learnt many skills, and I have also seen what not to do, which is equally as good a learning experience!
I still enjoy working with people as much as I did when I started out which really helps me in my role.
What struggles or obstacles did you face along the way?
My real challenge was that my career really progressed at the same time as my children arrived and I was completing additional studies. This provided the same challenge as many working parents have in balancing work and childcare priorities, with the added excitement of studying – it proved a real test of time management and prioritisation.
I have missed plenty of personal things over the years such as sports day, parents’ evenings, the simple school drop off and collection process. This can cause mental strain, as can missing the rewarding social aspects of work whilst balancing the needs of home life. This has been tough at times, feeling that you have to justify to colleagues why you are leaving early or arriving late as your morning just didn’t go to plan or to your family as to why you will miss some important aspects of their lives.
I have put pressure on myself over the years to be the ‘perfect’ employee and parent, which can be harsh when both or vitally important to me – the challenge has always been to find a balance. I have always been clear that I don’t think working has necessarily made me a better parent (especially as you turn up late to another parents evening or forget that it was world book day again!) but I have always known and shared with my children that my work is important to me and hoped that they would recognise that. Now they are older I am still reminded of my school mishaps but equally, they do fully recognise my strong work ethic, which is hopefully instilled in them for their futures.
I have always been very fortunate to have a fantastic support network that has allowed me to balance these very important aspects of my life. This group of people have been my unsung heroes over the years!
I am pleased that the world of work has moved on, to allow working parents to have a better work-life balance and provide much better support and flexibility, recognising the value this brings to all.
Describe the moment you first got a feel for success?
I attended an NLP (Neuro-linguistics programme) course many years ago and this gave me a completely different view on life!
It provided an insight into how the many of the challenges/struggles that I had were of my own making! It gave me a different way of thinking and enabled me to deal with situations in a much more effective way which I believe ultimately led to my career success. It also taught me the valuable lesson that it’s okay to get things wrong (there is no such thing as failure, only feedback), how valuable those moments are and how they help you become stronger and more resilient. Once you can truly believe this then it opens up many more opportunities as you are more likely to try something new, have confidence when things go wrong, which all helps with your career path and personal success. It also gave me the confidence to speak up when I needed to in a way that ensured I was listened to and my views were taken on board (even if not always agreed with).
I was once asked about my career progression plans and were they on track? On reflection, I recognised I had no such plan, and what was driving me was to do a really good job and add value to the company where I worked and caring for the people around me. So, obsessing about delivering rather than climbing the ladder is more of a driver for me and in reality, has served me well.
Do you have any advice to aspiring young females?
Find a network of people who are and will support you along the way. I have been so fortunate to have had many people both personally and professionally who have provided me with the support, guidance and wisdom that at times I have needed. They have been kind enough to listen, reflect and share their knowledge when requested, solutions have I have been ‘stuck’ and, the biggest gift of all, confidence in me and my abilities when I have needed that extra boost!
This group of people have been invaluable to me and without a doubt contributed to my career success.
In equal measure be prepared to give the same to others as listening to and helping others when they need support is very rewarding and can provide some fantastic learning experiences for you as well.
What advice would you give to your younger self?
Slow down and stop comparing yourself to others! My career path has taken me far away from where I started, and I have used the skills, knowledge and experiences from each opportunity I have been given (even the tough ones!) to make the changes to get me to where I am now.
Have confidence in yourself, success comes in many forms and always remember the balance between all the things you have achieved rather than focusing on all you have not!
What three words inspire you and encourage a positive path?
You’re in control!
Here you can find other stories that you might find interesting