Women in Leadership Interview Series: Assistant Director for Workforce and OD, Carol Offer

On March 8th 2019, International Women’s Day (#IWD2019) will be celebrated with the campaign #BalanceforBetter; calling for a more gender-balanced world. I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to celebrate the achievements of women in leadership roles. I asked a number of female leaders to answer a series of questions about their experiences to share with you right here on the Ad Florem blog.

In this interview, we meet Carol, an Assistant Director for Workforce and Organisational Development. Read our Women in Leadership Interview Series to meet the other interviewees.

Carol’s career started a long way from where she is now. She studied mechanical engineering at university and worked in engineering roles in the late 1980s. Carol moved into teaching engineering, managing a teaching team and then got the opportunity to take on a role as Head of Education for the Ambulance Service. The ambulance service and her role now has changed significantly over the 18 years she has been with the Trust.

Carol, thank you for taking part in our Women in Leadership series. Tell us, what are the skills that you have that make you well suited to your role?

In my engineer roles, I worked as a project manager and that pushes you to have some knowledge and understanding about a lot of different aspects. This has helped me with managing the breadth of education and workforce activities I am now responsible for.

I found in my teaching role and also in my current role, that I like helping people, and education and development is one of the most satisfying ways to do that. I am fortunate to work with a team that are passionate about the experiences of our learners, who are our workforce, and we are helping them every day to be the best that they can be when it comes to the care of patients.

And what does leadership look like for you?

For me, it is tied up in values and behaviours, how you treat people, interact with people, and value people.

Can you share one leadership lesson you have learned in your career?

You have to give people the chance to shine; be authentic; live your values.

How do you balance work and life responsibilities? Do you have any practical tips?

I am most definitely not a good example of work life balance. Imposter syndrome and self-esteem issues on a workaholic don’t make a good combination. But I am working on it and it takes small steps. I do not allow anyone in my team to adopt similar behaviours.

Describe yourself in three words

Hate describing myself.

But, just in case you don’t let me get away with that…… nope, can’t do it…….

Have you ever suffered with ‘imposter syndrome’? What does it mean to you?

Most definitely. Having been very qualified as an engineer, I would never be able to walk into this same job in another organisation as I am not ‘qualified’. But as I am helpfully reminded, I am making a huge difference to the education of the ambulance workforce, both in my organisation and nationally (you know my coach won’t believe I actually boldly wrote that statement, ha ha!)

What challenges have you faced in your leadership career, and what tips do you have for how to overcome them?

Bosses that don’t provide feedback/check-ins. You have to assume everything is okay if they are not asking to see you. This doesn’t work with my imposter syndrome and my self-esteem. It took me a while to realise that this meant all was okay and I have a great team that help.

Do you have any advice or words of encouragement for aspiring female leaders? Or just for leaders in general if you prefer.

Be authentic.

How to find North West Ambulance Service online

Carol Offer, Assistant Director for Workforce and Organisational Development

North West Ambulance Service

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Read our Women in Leadership Interview Series to meet the other interviewees.

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