Leadership Consultant, Executive Coach, Entrepreneur and Author, Anni Townend invites business leaders to join her in conversation about their work, values , inspiration and motivations. And to share their stories. Connect and collaborate with Anni at www.annitownend.com
Anni Townend in Conversation with Fi MacMillan
For the Leaders in Conversation Podcast episode 23, Anni talks to Fi Macmillan, adventurer, coach, supervisor, entrepreneur and founder of Wild Leadership.
“Life is the most blessed experiment. So let's experiment and see what happens.”
As a leadership coach, Fi specialises in helping her clients to connect through nature and what she defines as “outdoor intelligence”. She talks to Anni about what this means and what inspired her own love of the outdoors.
Fi recalls fondly how nature grounded her through difficult times as a child and why she reconnected to the outdoors later in life. Motivated by a break-up, her then young children, an energetic dog and a new zest for adventure.
This nature reconnection has transformed her approach to leadership and her work with clients. Sharing her experience of finding space in the outdoors to work on self development, she reveals: “When we step over the threshold outside, something really different happens in our bodies at an unconscious level: we tune in, relax, our minds work better. If you step out by yourself, you will move much more deeply into connection with the natural world because you're alone.”
Listen to the podcast to discover:
How nature connection can drive profound changes in both the mind and body Using adventure or time outdoors to shift perspectives Learning to connect to the changes that want to emerge within us and within our teams and organisationsThe power of being alone in nature to develop deeper connection and focusSelf confidence and showing up as a leaderHow to bring adventurous spirit to the everyday by embracing daily freedoms and daily choicesThe benefits of wholehearted living Fi also reveals the most common challenges that senior leaders come to her with. And she shares three tips we can all use to raise our outdoor intelligence.
Discover more and connect with Fi
To find out more about Wild Leadership, including details of Fi’s coaching, supervision and leadership programmes visit wildleadership.co.uk
Anni Townend in Conversation with Marshah Dixon-Terry, Career Coach
'See change as an opportunity, not a burden'
For episode 22, Anni talks to the inspirational Marshah Dixon-Terry, a leading Career Coach and Organisational Development Consultant.
Over the past 20 years, Marshah has helped senior leaders through transformational change in a range of settings and is passionate about helping people to reach their potential.
Talking to Anni, she shares what has shaped her own journey, her values, beliefs and approach to coaching. And she reveals some strategies for successful leadership and culture change.
Marshah reflects on how her childhood has greatly influenced who she is today. Growing up in north London with her St Lucian parents who immigrated to the UK in the 50s, she learned the importance of connection, growth, academic and social education, respect for others and grasping opportunities. She also shares recent experiences with her two sons, including some challenging home schooling.
Marshah talks about a sense of pride in her family, past and heritage, which she says “propels me forward”. That recognition of individual worth extends to her work with clients. A thread that runs through everything she does is to “treat people as people, regardless of one’s background, education or opportunities”.
Anni and Marshah also discuss the wider societal and workplace changes taking place, including diversity, inclusion and topics related to Covid-19 like remote and flexible working. They discuss how organisations can navigate these changes to shape their future vision.
Finally, Marshah reveals three things leaders should consider in order to driving lasting and positive change.
Listen to the full episode to hear Marshah’s experience and perspectives on:
The role models effect - how showing faith in others inspires their self beliefDealing with challenge and how to reframe a challenge as an opportunityWhy we must see people equally, regardless of background, opportunity or privilege How to define and achieve authentic change Using change to drive meaningful impactThe importance of active listening, staying curious, learning from and caring about one another Working in a post pandemic world and why organisations must connect with employees to redefine collective goals and purposeFind out more and connect with Marshah
To find out more and connect with Marshah visit her LinkedIn profile or email email@example.com
Leaders in Conversation with Dawn Whittaker, Chief Fire Officer
In this episode Anni talks to Dawn Whittaker, Chief Fire Officer and CEO of East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service, as well as NFCC lead for Drowning Prevention and Water Safety.
Anni and Dawn talk about how early experiences ignited Dawn’s passion for safety and why as a leader she is committed to nurturing both physical and psychological safety.
Background and career influences
Growing up on a farm in Wales, Dawn learned to be pragmatic and safety-conscious at an early age. Along with her sister, she was a keen member of the Brownies, Guides and Rangers - always actively involved in team and community projects. She believes this to be a trait inherited from parents and grandparents.
However, her real interest in fire safety was sparked on an Outward Bound course, whilst working for a company. Dawn was frustrated at the organiser’s failure to conduct any health safety briefings about fire exits and so after checking local procedures, she undertook a fire safety drill. “I think they all thought I'd lost the plot,” she reflects.
In terms of her interest in water safety, it was a near drowning experience aged just 16 that had a lasting impact. Dawn is now the national lead for water safety and drowning prevention for the National Fire Chiefs Council in the UK, heading up the Be Water Aware campaign. The aim is to promote safe use of recreational water spaces.
Dawn wasn’t always within the Fire Service however. In her early career she worked in the retail sector with The John Lewis Partnership, before moving into a managerial performance role at a County Council. Both roles led her to develop a passion for quality customer service and communication - something she has carried into her role at the Fire Service for over 17 years.
Fighting fires during a pandemic
Dawn discusses the impact of the pandemic and praises her team who have worked tirelessly. In addition to provision of standard services, the Fire Service has been collaborating with partners like the Coastguard and supporting the local Ambulance Service with much-needed drivers through the pandemic
However, she admits the pandemic has been tough on the service. Not least because it meant finding new ways to engage with the public. But also because many of her staff members have had to manage their duties alongside the emotional, financial and physical burden of Covid-19.
“People might think firefighters, and our staff are all heroes and superheroes, and superhuman, but, do you know what, we're just people,” says Dawn.
Inspirational leaders and inclusivity
Dawn reveals the many leaders who have inspired her journey, including colleagues from John Lewis and existing and retired Fire Service leaders like David Archer and Bruce Hoad, both of whom she praises for their commitment to driving inclusivity and equality in the service.
Driving diversity is something close to Dawn's heart. She talks about being a role model and "holding a mirror up".
Listen to the episode to discover:
How childhood role models can shape actions in adult lifeCommunity values and teamworkSupporting employee wellbeing during the pandemic and beyondThe importance of collaboration in the communityWhy inclusivity and diversity is essential to the future workforce Celebrating human differences and the value these can bringFour key things all leaders should think about to unlock their potentialDiscover more and connect with Dawn
For more information on East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service visit esfrs.org
You can connect with Dawn Whittaker directly on LinkedIn.
Anni Townend in Conversation with Sophie Harvey Sherwood
‘Never give up, keep going and always have fun’ advice from a 7 year old runner
For the 20th Leaders in Conversation Podcast episode, Anni talks to the amazing Sophie Harvey Sherwood, a seven year old girl from Glasgow who is running to celebrate inspirational women.
On the week of International Women’s Day (08 March 2021), Sophie joined her dad Scott Sherwood on his Just Running It challenge, a 365 mega challenge in which Scott aims to run 10km every single day for a year in aid of Glasgow Children’s Hospital Charity.
As part of a school project on inspiring women, Sophie decided to dedicate each of her daily runs to a woman role model, starting with Courtney Dauwalter, America ultramarathon runner. Courtney has broken many records, often beating her male competitors to the finish line, in races of 100 miles and more.
“Because I realised how far she ran, I was like, why don't I give it a go? See if I could run that much one day,” explains Sophie.
Starting with a gentle 1km for her first run, Sophie has already increased her distance to over 3km and has a target of reaching 10km by the end of the year. Her efforts have attracted the admiration of the running community, including her idol Courtney who messaged Sophie with her well wishes on Instagram. The pair agree that feedback was “really motivating”.
A lesson in determination, perseverance and teamwork
Setting out on any endurance challenge, particularly one that lasts a whole year, is not without hurdles. However, Sophie and Scott have a unique mantra “to keep going”. They discuss with Anni the importance of perseverance and not giving up, supporting each other along the way.
The challenge has naturally given them some special bonding time, which Scott says has created a real sense of team. He also reveals how running alongside Sophie as a new and much younger runner, has reignited his passion for running and showed him new perspectives.
“I think I think it's given me a newfound sense of adventure in a world that I've lived for my whole life,” he explains.
More Inspirational Women
Anni talks about the inspiring women leaders she has met and they delve into the women carefully chosen by Sophie for her school project. The list includes designer Coco Chanel, English paleontologist Mary Anning, wartime nurse Mary Seacole, women’s right activist Emmeline Pankhurst and scientist Marie Curie, who Sophie says “would be working on the vaccine if she was still alive”.
And of course, she talks about her supportive Mom who has taken up a Just Washing It challenge, which Sophie beams is “really fun”.
Running for a better future
The duo share a passion for the environment. Something that Scott, as VP of Engineering at Wood Mackenzie, a leading research and consultancy business for the global energy, chemicals, metals and mining industries, has no doubt passed down to his daughter.
They’ve recently been nominated to be the ‘running Mayor for Glasgow’, part of an initiative that aims to encourage people to use active travel for short commutes or errands. They have also been spurred to take part in a run and litter picking challenge.
She may be running for charity, for the environment and in the name of inspirational women, but Sophie thinks the biggest benefit is “getting to see the nature and the fresh air when it comes out”. As a hardy Scott, that even includes running in the rain.
Discover more, donate and connect with Sophie and Scott
You can follow their progress and discover more on justrunningit.com which has links to the pair’s YouTube channel and their fundraising page.
You can also follow Scott on Instagram and Twitter @scottcsherwood
Anni Townend in Conversation with Thurstine Basset, Author on Boarding School Survival
The trauma, abandonment and privilege of boarding school with Thurstine Basset
“We have had to overcome that sense that if you complain, you're just a privileged winner, and that nobody wants to hear from privileged winners.” Thurstine Basset
For the latest episode of the Leaders in Conversation Podcast with Anni Townend, Anni talks to Thurstine Basset, a boarding school survivor, author and mental health champion.
Thurstine has co-authored a number of books on mental health including most recently Trauma, Abandonment and Privilege: A guide to therapeutic work with boarding school survivors with established fellow boarder and author Nick Duffell.
Born into an army family, Thurstine was sent to prep school from just eight years old, but despite always knowing he had a less than happy experience there, it wasn’t until some 20 years later that he really began to explore the personal impact of public schooling. Persuaded by his psychotherapist wife, he attended a workshop for boarding school survivors, which started a long journey of realisation, discovery and wanting to help others.
“I went to prep school when I was eight. And I published a book about it when I was 68. So I had plenty of time to reflect on the experience.” reveals Thurstine
Among the many challenges of boarding school, Thurstine reveals a devastating impact on family connections. He reveals how spending just eight weeks at prep school was enough to break the attachment with his mother and that both parties suffered from a distant relationship throughout their whole lives.
A shared experience of abandonment
Anni, who contributed to the book Trauma, Abandonment and Privilege, also shares her experience of being sent to the Mount for Girls boarding school in York - something she has rarely spoken about. She reveals a sense of abandonment and having to step over the “threshold” into boarding school life. Like Thurstine, the sense of privilege is something that has prevented her from being more open about her education. She also talks about having to “grow up fast” at a time when childhood should be cherished.
Boarding school syndrome: A growing topic for psychotherapy
Boarding school syndrome has become an increasingly prevalent topic for psychotherapy and therapists, with as many as six books published on the subject over the past six years. And more people seeking out professional help.
“Although the schools themselves have become less brutal and more child friendly, actually referrals for therapy have gone up,” explains Thurstine. “The separation and the breaking of attachment is still there, and children are still feeling it and still having to survive it. And later on in adult life they're coming for help.”
For those who have been through the boarding school system and may be struggling currently, even in very minor ways, Thurstine recommends “going towards it” and opening the dialogue with friends and family.
“I think the boarding school survivor, naturally wants to stay back from it, but when I went towards it, I found great relief and a new life in a way opened up for me,” he explains.
Listen to the full episode to discover;
Survival and resilience Overcoming trauma and abandonmentRebuilding broken family attachments The burden of privilege on feeling silenced, unheard or judgedDealing with shame and judgement Why it is difficult to get true feedback from boarders from minority groups who are often conditioned to prize their education above all elseThe power of art and creativi
Anni Townend in conversation with Annabel Venner, Marketing Consultant
The power of vulnerability and open conversations with Annabel Venner
The latest guest on the Leaders in conversation podcast is Annabel Venner, an expert Marketing Consultant and Chair of The Marketing Society Fellow.
Having carved a successful 25+ year career in marketing, Annabel has worked for well known brands including Coca Cola and Hiscox before more recently moving into consultancy. Anni and Annabel became acquainted through the Marketing Leaders Programme, a joint venture between The Marketing Society and Accenture Interactive, of which Annabel is a regular speaker.
In this incredibly open conversation, Annabel talks about both her personal and professional experiences, including highs and lows, love and loss, and all that’s shaped her in between.
Looking back to her early experiences, she explains how growing up on a farm in Kent with her parents and two sisters gave her the opportunity from a young age to experience risk taking, for example learning to drive a tractor or operating farm machinery.
An openness to risk is something that has motivated her professionally since. That’s why when offered the opportunity to work in Asia for three months, both Annabel and her husband agreed she should absolutely do it - challenging the archetypal gender roles in the family. For both partners, the period was a success. Annabel further evolved her marketing skill set and presented her children with a positive woman role model, while her husband cared for and nurtured them.
Annabel reveals how observing her own father as someone who helped those around him in the family and the community, sparked her passion for wanting to support others. As well as being a Marketing Consultant, she is a committed mentor and advocate of the marketing profession, seeking to help those early in their marketing career through various initiatives.
The power of vulnerability
Annabel opens up about bereavement, having tragically lost her husband to cancer in summer 2020 and more recently her mother too. She reflects on the importance of community and how those near to her provided an invaluable support network through such difficult times. She also shares how bereavement helped her to gain power through vulnerability, connecting to her emotions and self.
Through loss, Annabel began to reevaluate the things that matter and she has learned to tune in to what she enjoys, which is why she has stepped more into the mentoring and charity work. And of course, caring for an allotment with her two teenage boys.
Listen to the full episode to discover:
The process of bereavement, loss and adapting Learning how to grow through vulnerability and why Annabel is teaching her sons about the value of vulnerability and emotions The importance of open conversations whether around the dinner table or having tough conversations in the boardroomChallenging gender stereotypes and embracing the role as the ‘breadwinner’ as a woman in businessWhy leaders need to create safe environments where people feel empowered to take risksHer career inspiration and aspirations and reconnecting to what matters
Annabel also offers three pieces of advice for other leaders:
Embrace risks or at least take hold of opportunities Don't be defined by your professional life and your job - really understand the bigger side of who you areBring your whole self and be vulnerable
Discover more and connect with Annabel
To find out more about Annabel’s work Consulting, Mentoring and Speaking visit www.annabelvenner.com or get in touch with via email: firstname.lastname@example.org.