The importance of investing in yourself

The last few years have been challenging. This year I decided it was time to do something I’ve neglected for a few years. I invested in myself and my personal and professional development.

For the last 8.5 years I’ve been working at the European Bioinformatics Institute | EMBL-EBI, making it easier for life sciences researchers to discover research literature and the data that underpins it. I’ve introduced user centred design, Agile processes and product management. EMBL-EBI has a rather unusual rule: the majority of staff have to leave the organisation after 9 years.

In 2019 I stepped up to lead our team day-to-day, when my manager was promoted. I had the privilege of leading the team through the lockdowns, remote working and a complete pivot in our roadmap to work on COVID-19 projects. We worked flat out in 2020 and I’m proud of what the team achieved.

The next two years were tough personally and professionally. I lost my dear Mum during a lockdown in 2021. Later that year I had to step back from my responsibilities and onboard a new team leader. Returning to my previous role felt demotivating. Another family bereavement in 2022 left us all reeling. With everything going on I didn’t have the energy to contemplate looking for a new role.

Roll on to 2023. I applied for a job I had plenty of experience for, but didn’t get it. I received some really unprofessional feedback that knocked me back. I realised my lack of confidence was holding me back. So I decided to invest in myself.

Firstly I got a coach. I am extremely grateful to Julia Whitney for supporting me on my journey, sharing a lot of laughter together and helping me pick myself up and recognise my own resilience and potential.

Secondly I came across UPFRONT. I met Lauren Currie, the inspirational founder of UPFRONT, several years earlier when she spoke at a conference I was co-chairing. Lauren’s posts on LinkedIn peaked my interest. Especially her ambitious aim to change confidence for 1 million women. I took the plunge and signed up for Bond 7 (Bond is the collective noun for a group of women). It’s hard to describe what being in an UPFRONT Bond is like. For me personally it has been revelatory. I’ve met some amazing women and learned a lot about myself and my relationship with confidence. Collectively we’ve shared some very personal stories, challenges and wins together. Bond 7 has prepared me for my next move and I’m looking forward to what’s on the horizon (more on that later).

One of the reflective challenges in Bond 7 is to build a writing habit, something I used to do a lot of. Once you get out of the habit it can be hard to start again. Thank you to Lauren and her amazing UPFRONT team for encouraging us all to show up. I’m working on my list of things to write about 😉

“The willingness to show up changes us, it makes us a little braver each time.”

Brené Brown

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