[Below is a transcript of an interview. Please excuse any typos.]
Deborah A.:Welcome to Deborah’s Corporate Hard Talk. I am Deborah Abodunrin; this is the podcast for the underdogs. That’s right, where we explore career loses and wins. My guest tonight, share our corporate journey as working class professionals in British establishments, and along the way, we have some fun. Let’s get into it, and welcome to Deborah’s Corporate Hard Talk.
Deborah A.:Hi guys and welcome back to another episode of DCHT, it’s me, Deborah. I’m back for another episode. Hi, you guys I hope you’ve had a really great week. I always say I love networking, I love meeting people, and on this episode, I am just so excited because I have a very, very special guest on my show today. I know I say special every time. This is extremely special because my guest today is somebody that I really feel indebted to. I feel like they’ve helped my career to an extent. It’s that deep for me; I feel like if I didn’t meet them, I might just be doing some temping receptionist role here and there. This is how strong I feel about this person.
Deborah A.:So today I’m recording this episode at their office, an office in Kent, and we’ve actually never met. We’ve had so many emails, phone calls… hell, literally anything happens to me from a career perspective, they are the first people I would send an email to, or I’m sending a text message to. So it’s a great honour for me to have them on the podcast today.
Deborah A.:So, this episode is basically going to be about technology, working in technology and also about thinking about getting support. I’ve gotten support from my guest today, and they will just coach me, they will give me tips, will give me advice. So today we’re talking about the world of technology, one, and secondly, we’ll also touch on about getting the right support, speaking to the right people to really help your career move forward.
Deborah A.:I’m not going too long, because you know me, I love to do my long introduction and just talk and talk and talk, I’m just going to go right into it. So on this special episode, please welcome our very special guest, Theresa Durrant.
Theresa Durrant:Well, firstly Deborah, what an introduction, wow. As I’ve just said you’ve made me feel quite tearful and it’s actually an honour and a privilege that you’ve asked me to speak with you today, so thank you very much.
Deborah A.:You’re welcome. Okay, the thing about DCHT, Theresa, is that we like to hear stories, really intimate stories. Like, for instance, how was your school life?
Theresa Durrant:I have to say, I was a little bit geeky in school.
Deborah A.:It wasn’t geeky. Geeky is the new cool.
Theresa Durrant:I know, but back then it wasn’t. I’m a little bit older than you, so it was hard, but I was probably one of the few rare people that actually, absolutely loved school. I loved what it represented, I loved the opportunities that it gave me. I excelled at math and sciences, but I have to confess I was a little bit of a loner in the playground. I’d rather be reading a book than playing with the boys. But yes, I have to confess I did have a fab time at school. I loved it.
Deborah A.:Where was school, where did you grow up?
Theresa Durrant:So I grew up in Swanley. I went to a school in Swanley. Yeah, not really much to tell. I got to my A–Levels having had an absolute blast. Kind of rebelled a little bit when I got to the age of 17 and 18, as everyone does. You find yourself, so off you go and discover a bit more about yourself. But I think at that point I just decided I’d much rather go out and gain through world experience, than spend another three or four years in university. So I just wanted to…
Deborah A.:Ah, so you didn’t go to Uni?
Theresa Durrant:No, absolutely not.
Deborah A.:No? Oh my gosh.
Theresa Durrant:No. I know. I had all the grades, I had my place secured, but I just decided it wasn’t for me.
Deborah A.:Did you wish sometimes, did you wish that …
Theresa Durrant:I suppose over the years I’ve looked back occasionally and thought what if, but I’m also somebody who lives by having no regrets. The reason I made the decision not to go was because at that moment in time it wouldn’t have been right for me. I never live with regrets; I’m quite happy with the decision that I didn’t go to university. In fact, I probably wouldn’t be running a business if I’d gone to university. And I love the fact that I run a business. I love the fact that we’ve got guys working for us that we’ve watched come from similar backgrounds, who have not gone to university, being told perhaps they’re not going to amount to anything, and we’ve helped nurture them into what they are today. I’d wouldn’t have done that if I’d gone to Uni.
Deborah A.:Okay. So I remember, one of my fond memories about growing up is just having that first day at work. I remember one of my friends, she actually got her first job in this area, and I remember I would call her, and be like, “Oh my god, do you have a desk? Do you have a computer?” She’s like, “Yes, I’ve got everything.” So tell us about, maybe your first ever job and how you got it?
Theresa Durrant:Funny enough my first job was actually here in this town. I started and ended up here. I’ve been all around … I’ve worked in Reading, I’ve worked in Lewisham, I’ve worked in Bromley, all fairly local, but I started my very first job in a mobile telephone shop. I think that’s what got me into the technology. I absolutely loved it. I loved what it represented, although I couldn’t afford a mobile phone myself, but I loved the fact that I was working with technology.
Deborah A.:It’s funny, you couldn’t afford one, but I met a 10–year old the other day, and he had the iPhone 6S.
Theresa Durrant:I know, it’s crazy.
Deborah A.:I said, “Oh, this is a really nice phone.” And he goes, “Yeah, my friends have got iPhone 8.” I said, “Are you all 10 years old?”
Theresa Durrant:Yeah, I know, exactly. I mean they take it for granted. At the age of two, they could swipe left and right.
Deborah A.:Oh yeah.
Theresa Durrant:It’s like what are you doing?
Deborah A.:It’s funny you say you got your first job here because I got my first job here.
Theresa Durrant:Did you?
Deborah A.:Yeah. I used to work for Primark.
Theresa Durrant:Way to go.
Deborah A.:In retail. So I’m always very interested in how we get our first jobs. So how did you get that job? Did you just apply? Because back then did you have to write letters?
Theresa Durrant:Yes, it was fax machines, if you even know what they are these days.
Deborah A.:Fax, what is that?
Theresa Durrant:I literally pounded the pavement with my CV and just went into every shop and delivered a letter to them. That was it, that was the way of doing it back then. I made myself busy; I offered to do the cheapest jobs that they had available if it meant just getting work experience. I had a huge amount of rejection at the time, but eventually, somebody said, “Yeah, we’ll give you a go because you’ve got the gumption to come in here and actually ask face-to-face for work”. That was it. It wasn’t easy because I said I didn’t go to university and stuff like that, but I think I was just more of a doer, I was determined, and that probably came across, I think. More attitude, than anything.
Deborah A.:Attitude, yeah.
Theresa Durrant:Yes, absolutely.
Deborah A.:I think that as well. I think when you have a can–do attitude, it actually overrides everything else.
Theresa Durrant:Well you can teach skills, but it’s hard to teach an attitude.
Deborah A.:Yeah. Okay, so what we’ll do, we’ll come back and we’ll talk about maybe when you had another U-turn, from working in a shop and how you really just started in the corporate world.
Deborah A.:Hi guys, we’re back, and I’m still here with Theresa. It’s been very interesting, we’ve been talking about work and just growing up and how school life was, and one of the things that Theresa just said is that she really likes math and science, which in my world, that’s rare. I don’t meet people that like math and science, because that’s a double threat. How did you love math and science? It just reminds me of Hidden Figures.
Theresa Durrant:I don’t know.
Deborah A.:Have you watched Hidden Figures?
Theresa Durrant:No I haven’t.
Deborah A.:Have you not?
Theresa Durrant:I’m going to go out and watch it now.
Deborah A.:Well, some of you who don’t know about Hidden Figures, it’s about some of the women who helped America get to space and did all the calculations. Basically they are black women, but back then in the ’60s, there was a lot of segregation, and what they would do is they put them to the other side of the campus, but they would do the key stuff. They were doing the key calculations, but no one took notice of them.
Deborah A.:But in the film what I loved about it, and I think you can link this to everything in tech, is that at some point it doesn’t matter who you are, where you are, who you’ve been; can you do the job?
Theresa Durrant:Yes, absolutely.
Deborah A.:And I think with math and science, this is what we get. When I see techy people and developers, I’m like “Oh, they are the god.”
Theresa Durrant:And that’s still true today. They are definitely the god. Oh okay, well I probably was one of the oddities, one of very few girls in the classes with science and math. But what can I say? I mean math for me is … You know when you’ve got something right because the numbers are right. It’s very logical; there’s no grey area – could it be right, could it be wrong. You know absolutely without a doubt, when the numbers add up, that you’ve got it right. I think from a science point of view I’m just very inquisitive. I’d be one of those children that growing up went, “Why Daddy? Why Daddy? Why does it do this? Why does it do that?”
Deborah A.:Oh my god.
Theresa Durrant:And the 20th time in the row, he’d be wanting to send me off into the garden. So it’s just inbred within me to be inquisitive, and I think science lends very well to that and technology. It’s not really that much of a leap from that science part of my brain that just wants to know more. How can it evolve, how can it deliver more for the people around us? What can it do? What’re its capabilities? I mean, you mentioned science, I go and watch Professor Brian Cox because I just love him, you know?
Theresa Durrant:I just love what science and technology can do for us. It’s amazing. I’m very passionate about technology. I mean, you read about mobile phones that can be converted into a piece of medical equipment that is sending real-time data back to a hospital, and people can analyse that data for people that are out in the middle of a conflict. I mean it’s just amazing; our mobile phone could turn into a medical device that’s going to save someone’s life. It astounds me. I just love what it can do.
Deborah A.:How did you translate that passion to your career?
Theresa Durrant:Well I suppose when I’d had enough of retail, because-
Deborah A.:As you do.
Theresa Durrant:I mean I did enjoy retail to a certain extent, but I’ve always wanted to move into something else. I suppose do a little bit more that would advance my career, and there was a point in time when I just thought, I have to just quit my job. I had nothing to go to. It was a big leap of faith at that moment in time. I was without a job offer for about three months.
Deborah A.:That’s nothing though.
Theresa Durrant:No it isn’t, and we are going back quite a number of years ago, so at that time that felt like a big gap because jobs were probably a little bit more easier to come by in all fairness. So it felt like a big chunk of time out. I just thought … I don’t have a job to go to, and this wasn’t what I’d always done; I’d always had another job lined up before I left one. I just thought I had to go and find my true calling.
Theresa Durrant:Didn’t quite work out that way, it has to be said. I found myself working in a property management company, and that was my big step into working within a bit more of a corporate setting. I started to work my way up through management, and they used these old antiquated technology system. It was a system called Heathmill at the time; you know press S for save, D for delete. If you press the wrong button, everything will go blank, and you’d have to call the IT department. It would take a week to sort it out, that kind of setup.
Theresa Durrant:When I started there I didn’t even know how to switch a computer on. I had to look at the person next to me to see what button you pushed. But a couple of years into the job they decided to upgrade the technology system and they wanted someone to help with the requirements gathering, and I just absolutely got it … I loved it. I loved the system, I loved what it represented, what it could do, how it could improve efficiency, and being a numbers person, tick those boxes. I was curious, from my science background, so I needed to know everything that it could do and how it worked.
Theresa Durrant:And eventually just started to pick it apart and I was conveniently given the administrator login to it, as a super user. I started to tweak it and work with it and helped them to build the system. I just got the bug from there. From that point onwards, I loved technology. Absolutely loved it.
Deborah A.:That’s interesting. And it’s quite awesome that you said that. So I’ll tell you a little story about how I met Theresa. I was just online one day, and I just met her, and she was recruiting for a tech position. And from what she just said, I love it when people practise what they preach. The moment she started speaking to me, she says, “Oh, go on iTunes, type in this system and go on it and look at this and read this and do that.” And I was like, oh, okay, is it that easy? And just from what you advised me earlier on, back then, you’ve done it before.
Theresa Durrant:Yeah, yeah. I mean that’s the only way I could advise someone is by, I’ve done it, I’ve been there.
Deborah A.:You’ve done it before. I think that’s good. So basically you took it on. You adopted this, and you took it on, how was that for you? Because when you think about it, because for me, I just think that was not your … you didn’t go to Uni; you didn’t learn computers. Because back then…
Theresa Durrant:No computer science or anything.
Deborah A.:Did you do any professional courses along the line? You just learnt on the job?
Theresa Durrant:It was all self-taught. Again, I’m good at research I suppose, if I don’t know something, I want to go out and find out about it. I will ask people questions. Going back to me as the five-year-old asking my dad, “Why? Why? Why?” I just, I got nosy, and thankfully I didn’t annoy the IT person that came in, too much. He was happy to just sort of sit and talk to me and I’d ask him to show me the system, and I’d just ask if I could try stuff out myself and he’d let me give it a go.
Theresa Durrant:I suppose in a way I was very fortunate that I was given that opportunity to be let loose on their system a little bit, but I think also I would communicate why I was making the changes that I was making as well, before I’d done them, so that they knew I wasn’t going to go in and just mess everything up. But yeah, it was quite empowering actually at the time because there weren’t many people that they gave access to, and probably I was the only one that managed to negotiate the superuser access out of the whole company.
Deborah A.:Okay, so just from the aspect of this IT guy coming in and showing you… In your life back then, did you have anybody who … Because you know, right now we’re living in a world of information. You go online; someone is teaching you how to become a mum, someone is teaching you how to ask for a raise, someone is teaching you how to do this. Back then did you have somebody that you would go to? Did you have a Theresa? Like, I feel like I have a Theresa. But did you have somebody that you would go to?
Theresa Durrant:I didn’t actually, no. I think that’s one of the reasons I now do what I do because that was a massive learning curve back then. I didn’t come from an IT background, as I said. When I first started that job, I didn’t even know how to switch a PC on. That’s how naïve I was around technology. I felt so proud of what I had accomplished when I helped to create this system for the whole company. But it was all self-taught. It was amazing, actually. I felt really good off the back of that. It gave me so much confidence that I could go and do that.
Deborah A.:Did you do that with your day to day job?
Theresa Durrant:So I would stay late to do that, I’d work at the weekends if I had to. I did shifts there anyway, so Saturdays could be incredibly slow and boring, so rather than sit there twiddling my thumbs and reading a book, I would actually make myself busy on the system because it just was a good way of filling time.
Deborah A.:Okay. So you could say that was like your you-time, where you thought, oh my god, computers, science, math, this is how I can translate it.
Deborah A.:Okay, so let’s just talk a little bit about…you know…now we have a lot of conversations about the gender pay gap, not enough women in tech, not enough mums in our work. Back then, compared to now, what would you say the differences were? Were there a lot of women doing those roles back then?
Theresa Durrant:Bear in mind that I wasn’t in a technology role at the time, because I was people management, so the technology side of things was a little bit of a sideline just because I was interested in it. But the company that I worked for at the time, again I was one of the very few women in the management. I mean I think you could say 95% of the company – the management positions were all men. So I was quite a minority at the time.
Theresa Durrant:Wages, I know that there was a gap in the wages. I certainly know a person who had the very same position as me that was a man and was probably earning about 10k more than I was at the time — massive difference. And I had to fight for the promotions, so it was quite hard. While I want to say we’ve come a long way, not a whole lot has changed. I think we have more awareness that there is this gap in salaries and maybe not as many jobs were on offer for women.
Theresa Durrant:I think technology…whilst there aren’t that many women in technology, I think the salaries and the positions are there for them, it’s just a shame that more women don’t go into it, and I don’t know whether that’s because potentially they see it as a male–dominated environment or whether it’s just because of the fact that childcare normally falls on mum to do, and sometimes technology roles don’t fit in with having children. I don’t agree with that. We recruit mums here who work three days a week; they make it work between them; it’s not a problem. So I think that we as organisations could be doing more to help with that.
Deborah A.:Yeah. Well, the whole mum debate. I just move away from it a lot because I always believe that we’re not touching the surface, you know what I mean?
Theresa Durrant:Oh yeah, absolutely.
Deborah A.:Because what I believe is that mums now are superhumans. They’re doing what has never been done, and I think people should give them a chance. Because before there was not a lot of need…in the house, one person could afford to just go out to work. So it made sense. And for me, I saw that a lot of the time some people thought, oh let me stay at home. I’m thinking this current society in a way, doesn’t accommodate for you to stay at home, sometimes.
Deborah A.:If you want to stay at home, stay at home. But when I even look at my daughter, she can do a lot on my phone. I saw that if I’m not well educated and I’m not well exposed, she can have one up on me, the way I have one up on my mum, and you might have one up on your mum. And I look at my daughter and I’m thinking in five years’ time she could be coding. Maybe now in a few years’ time, rather than putting a password in, you code your password in, and she could be coding things, and I’d be like oh my god….
Theresa Durrant:What are you doing?
Deborah A.:“I’m coding my thing.” Do you know what I mean? I think because of that, we need women to be at work. It’s an economic thing; it’s not a social thing anymore. We need women to be at work, and even just what you just said about management position, I’ve come to realise that in some era….I don’t know if you know Sheryl Sandberg… I don’t know if you’ve read her book Lean… it’s a similar thing that she says, I think maybe this is why some companies are so rigid, because we don’t have the women in the boardroom to make these decisions.
Theresa Durrant:No, you’re absolutely spot on. Even to a certain extent some of the conversations that I have with what you would consider to be very high up people within organisations, it’s almost like they’re indoctrinated to speak in a male voice. I just think that you’re losing such a wonderful essence of humanity. We are all different; we need to encompass all types, we need to encompass people from completely different backgrounds, people from a different way of living, to have that variety. I just think that women should be allowed to be women; men should be allowed to be men. I suppose we’re in a fortunate position at this company in that you’ve got Lee and I who are co-founders, we’re both strong people in our own right, so that means that 50% of the management, if you want to call it, is female, and 50% is male.
Theresa Durrant:But underneath us, we’ve got a natural split between the two sexes, which you don’t see very often. So I think it’s really important that those positions, at that high level, should be open equally to both male and female to enable that diversity to filter down because it all starts at the top. Companies that complain that they’re not diverse enough – they should really look at their board and see who sits on that.
Deborah A.:Yeah. So what we’ll do, we’ll come back and then we’ll start talking to Theresa a lot more about recruitment and the world of technology. Because a lot of our listeners, Theresa, we really want them to understand that this is a world that’s open, this is a world that has opportunity, and this is the world that’s emerging.
Deborah A.:I still say if I didn’t come across you, I could just still be in retail or just be doing reception desk. And also it’s about challenging the status quo. Like you might think, I can’t code, I can’t do it. But there are other things you can do. You just said you started gathering information and people went off and did the tech. There are roles like that, I think it’s called technology lead, and then your role is to sit there and understand. Don’t worry guys; we’ll come back.
Deborah A.:Hi guys, and we’re back. So we’re just going to start talking a little bit more about the tech world and recruiting and stuff, and I think what I’m going to do with Theresa, to probably just tell us what she does. I know we could have done that at the beginning, but I just think it would be quite nice, what you do in terms of … Theresa is really lucky; she works with her husband.
Theresa Durrant:Is that lucky?
Deborah A.:And they have a … I don’t even want to call it a recruitment company – it is a recruitment company, but it’s different. It’s much more intimate; it’s not like the high street, it’s very specialised. And it’s given me a job. So maybe tell us what you do just briefly, and then we can start going into if anybody wants to get into the technology world, how can they?
Theresa Durrant:Well, exactly that really. So we are a recruitment company, there’s no other way to spin it, that’s what we do. We introduce individuals who are looking for work, with companies that are looking for people with skills. We have recruited people that have come from no technology background – it’s literally their first job, all the way up to people that have been working in the industry for absolutely years at CEO levels or CTO levels. So we cross the whole spectrum. Ultimately it’s about the technology; I think…hopefully… it comes across early that we’re very passionate about the technology and we’re very passionate about working with people, and for us, it’s about finding the absolute best match both for the company and for an individual.
Theresa Durrant:But I mean technology, the sector as a whole, it’s an absolutely amazing place to work, I mean technology is just always evolving, it’s always changing, and because of that rapid change, there are so many opportunities out there for people. Particularly with things like cloud technology as well, where you’ve got a company that have got the latest cloud technology and every six months you have new releases, new shiny toys to play with, or new functionality, so they need to get people back in to update it and upgrade it. I think because of that, technology is such a buoyant market to be working in.
Theresa Durrant:I push any of my nieces, nephews, and godchildren, the many that we have, to go into a technology position because you can’t say it’s 100% safe, but in the years that we’ve been working in technology, it’s always going to reinvent itself. Technology is not going away; let’s face it. So if you can get yourself into that as a job, then absolutely, go for it.
Theresa Durrant:The beauty of it is that there are so many varied roles; you don’t necessarily need to be a hardcore coder. They need people that can manage projects; you need people that can go out and do requirements gathering. I mean talking to people isn’t necessarily easy; questioning people is even harder. You’ve got people that are admins, like I was, a superuser and things like that.
Theresa Durrant:So there are so many jobs out there that even if you’re sitting there shaking, thinking there’s no way I can be a developer, there would be something for you.
Deborah A.:Okay, so when you recruit for candidates for instance, what types of skills are you looking for?
Theresa Durrant:Yeah, I mean it really does depend on, I suppose the client, really, because they drive what skills you’re looking for. So ultimately, if they’re looking for graduates then we’d go out and look for people that are very new to the industry. If they’re looking for developers, we’d go out and look for people with software development skills. In quite a few instances we’ll get some clients, particularly with startups, and that’s a fantastic opportunity right there….
Theresa Durrant:….Startups, yes is when you often get clients that want somebody with XYZ skills, but they know they can’t afford those level of salaries. Could you go and get me somebody that we can train up? So yeah, it’s very much driven by the client.
Deborah A.:So you would advise somebody maybe to look at startups, is it a volunteering thing or…
Theresa Durrant:No, it doesn’t always have to be; I mean you can have startups who might … I mean the beauty of the startup is that because of the very nature of them they don’t have big budgets to go out and recruit loads of people, so what they’ll be looking for are people that have again, the right attitude, they want to come on board, they want to learn, they want to dip their toe in different areas, they want to be the project manager, they want to do the requirements gathering, may even get their hands dirty with coding and stuff like that.
Theresa Durrant:But the beauty of it is those opportunities are much more available within startup businesses. Because they want people to do multiple roles, so the learning curve is amazing. Absolutely amazing. And you get to find out the nitty gritty of how a business works. So if you’re new to technology and you don’t really know what the whole industry’s about, if you can get your foot in the door of the startup, then actually you could find out about different areas of business and find your niche, find the thing that gives you the buzz in the morning to get out of bed.
Theresa Durrant:So I always say startups are an amazing place to start out in a career. And then once you find your feet, what your soft spot is, you can start to work your way up.
Deborah A.:Moving around, yeah.
Theresa Durrant:Yeah, move up the ladder, so to speak.
Deborah A.:Okay, so if you were just to … You’ve put a lot of people in different roles, you know about industry, if you were to pick three job roles that you think anyone that doesn’t know anything about technology that wants to get into technology could start with, what would be the three?
Theresa Durrant:Yeah, so probably for people … Okay, so if we go for people, perhaps English orientated, at school, very good in English, maybe not so bad at math, but you don’t necessarily have to have good qualifications, but just somebody who’s got a good grasp of the English language, then I would probably say go into more of a soft skilled role. So something like an admin, perhaps working up to requirements gathering or what you would call a consultant, maybe.
Theresa Durrant:A story that we have, I mean obviously for data protection I won’t mention any names, but we had a young kid that approached us years ago, who was looking for his first opportunity. And he’d done all of those things, he’d gone on YouTube; he’d gone to the library and borrowed books; he’d used his friend’s PC to do a little bit of practise coding with Salesforce; he downloaded one of the developer orgs; practised building apps on that and he came to us with his CV that had nothing on there, he had no work experience, but he was willing to learn.
Theresa Durrant:He just was determined. He knew that he couldn’t get a lot of money, but that was okay because the way he looked at it…he was living at home…so he wanted to work for nothing for the first few months. But what he had done outside of work …well, once you stripped away the fact that he didn’t have any work experience, he’d actually developed a website on force.com, on the developer org. But he’d done that, it was all self-taught. It was books that he’d borrowed from the library, forums that he’d gone on and spoken to people on the forums about what could he do with a piece of code and stuff, and he had gotten the job. We actually got him a job.
Theresa Durrant:Now he’s like, he started out on about 18–19k and he’s probably on 35-40k, only a couple of years later. So there are fantastic opportunities out there, just for people who are willing to make themselves busy and be a bit nosy and just ask questions and go out and do the research. So yeah, if I were going to pick the easy route to entry, it would be the admin side of things or the developer side.
Deborah A.:Okay. And just generally, what is the one advice that you will give somebody in this industry, because one thing you did say before that it’s (tech) here to stay. It does change, but I’ve realised the change is not bad, the change is good.
Theresa Durrant:Oh, change is amazing.
Deborah A.:Because now we’ve gone into the cloud. It just gets better. So what would be … Even for me, working in this space, I work in marketing as I said before, I realised that you’ve got to be very patient. That’s one thing I’ve learnt; you’ve got to be very patient, it’s not just tick, let’s go. No, now what’s going to be the next bit? What’s going to happen if we press this button?
Deborah A.:I realise it’s very … Although it’s a fast industry, I realise that you have to be patient. You can’t just click and go; it has to be thought through. So what would you say from recruiting and finding the client, from putting candidates in... I’m sure you get a lot of feedback from candidates as well. What would you think the one advice or tip is that you’d give to somebody that wants to get into this industry?
Theresa Durrant:Okay, I’m probably going to put my coaching hat on, because I think over the years we’ve seen many people go through the pain points of getting frustrated that things aren’t working quite the way they want it to be. I think for me, one of the key things is just understanding what you want from the job. What is it that you’re really, really looking for?
Theresa Durrant:We have some people who jump around, and when you peel away that feeling that they think they’re in a dead–end job and it’s not going anywhere, and there are no opportunities, it all comes down to the ‘not really knowing what they want’. So they don’t know what they’re looking for. And they’ve had brilliant opportunities come their way, but because they don’t know what they’re looking for, they haven’t recognised it when it’s come along.
Theresa Durrant:So what I would always say is just have a little bit of a plan. You know what you want, know where you’re going to go to, and have options so that if plan A doesn’t work you’ve got plan B and plan C. But some idea of the direction that you’re going in, because it’s much easier to recognise the opportunities when they come along and I think for me, over the years, that’s the feedback that comes back time and time again. It doesn’t have to be….we’re not talking about a hard and fast plan here where you can’t change it.
Deborah A.:Yeah, I know what you mean. I think what Theresa is saying is that you just need to know where you are in the bigger picture? There’s nothing worse than being in the picture, but you don’t know what you’re doing there.
Theresa Durrant:Yes. It’s that old lovely little saying that you’ve probably heard, it’s better to be halfway up the ladder you want to climb than near the top of the one you don’t want to climb. Everybody is motivated by different things, and I think you need to understand what’s going to motivate you, even if you think it’s a dead–end job. We had a situation recently where we had somebody come to us, who are actually being paid incredibly well, but they were in quite a dead end job that wasn’t going anywhere. And actually all of the opportunities that would have made them really, really motivated, existed, they just weren’t asking the right questions or having the right conversations with the right people.
Theresa Durrant:So they were working in a job that they were prepared to give up, and in theory start all over again at another company, and all they had to do was go and sit down with their line manager and actually have that conversation with them. And suddenly all of those opportunities were there. But again they couldn’t see it because they didn’t know where they were going. So it’s just a bit of planning really.
Deborah A.:Planning, okay. Okay, so we’re getting to the end of the episode now but we’re going to come back and we’re going to start talking to Theresa a little bit more about the career coaching and what she does, and personally I really think this is a natural thing for Theresa because she helped me out at one point, but I think we will come back and we’ll talk about that.
Deborah A.:Hello guys, and we’re back, and this is the last segment for this episode, and I’m still here with Theresa. So Theresa, now this segment we’re really going to focus more on career coach, career management, and Theresa is actually … What was the course that you did?
Theresa Durrant:I took a neuro–linguistics programming course, so I am a practitioner of it, and also a master practitioner.
Deborah A.:Oh, okay. So what does that mean to us?
Theresa Durrant:Yes. In a nutshell?
Deborah A.:In a nutshell.
Theresa Durrant:It’s about coaching people. It’s about techniques that you can use to help people with all sorts of things. It’s not just career coaching; it’s life coaching, it could be health coaching. It can certainly be career coaching, and help people overcome limiting beliefs, the things that they believe about themselves that hold them back from doing what they want to do.
Theresa Durrant:I mean there’s no trickery to it. It is I suppose a methodology that is recognised and known to have really good results, and lots of top sports personalities use it to get better performance, so yeah. It’s coaching.
Deborah A.:It’s coaching. Okay, so at what point do you think someone may need coaching? Because I always thought that maybe coaching is something that older people …
Theresa Durrant:Some people get … I suppose might get slightly confused between coaching and mentoring. So coaching is about helping someone to implement the know–how. So say, for example, if you took somebody on, they’re brand new to a job. They don’t know how to do that job; you have to teach them how to do it. But then if somebody can’t put that teaching into practise, that’s when a coach might step in and actually help them to be able to implement that training. Mentoring is probably more often associated with people a little bit later on in their life. Because they’re talking from life experience and actually they can talk to people and help them work through situations, describe the situations they’ve been in, things to avoid, things that work well, that kind of thing.
Theresa Durrant:So, for me, I say coaching can be used at any point, certainly within a career. It’s something that you can switch on and off, so you don’t always need to have a coach. The instances where coaches work really well is when people haven’t quite got a clear idea of what they want, so going back to those people maybe that are in a dead end job and don’t actually have a plan, coaching can actually draw that level of questioning out. To be honest having been through coaching myself, because this is how I got into it, is that quite a number of years ago I got myself a business coach, and the level of questions that they ask you, is not something that you can ask yourself. And believe me, there are always surprises.
Theresa Durrant:You discover things about yourself. The one, that I mentioned to you before we started recording, was my imposter syndrome. I’ve flitted my way through management jobs, but for quite a number of years, I actually didn’t think I was that good at it. And that was a bit of a limiting belief that I had gotten myself. It was only actually once I’d gone through the coaching, I’d realised how much of a good impact I’d had on people over the years.
Theresa Durrant:So coaching can be used for people who have got blockers, it can be great for goal setting, what you really want, identifying really what’s important to you. That changes throughout life, having a child, getting divorced maybe, getting married, death in the family. All of that can change what you value in life. Coaching’s there to help identify all of that and help you with that if you have got limiting beliefs.
Deborah A.:So does it also help from an execution point of view, because what about if you’re someone that has a lot of things in your head, can coaching really help you bring those things out?
Theresa Durrant:Oh god, without a doubt. So it works incredibly well with people that have got busy minds, and that you can draw it out, you can find out what are the most important things, and it can even just set some really strong goals around it. I mean sometimes people have ideas, they’re not all going to be good, and it enables you to be able to pick and wheedle out the ones that are good or not so good. So yeah, a coach is amazing for that.
Deborah A.:So if we had two scenarios. So we have someone that maybe wants to get into a management role, for instance. They make good money, but they want to get into a management role, which you said involves managing people, so if you don’t want to manage people, then probably not. But let’s just say you want to get to that next level, you’ve gotten to that point where there’s just a hump. What other simple things do you think, maybe by having a career coach, could help you rein that in?
Theresa Durrant:Oh wow. Well, I think through coaching you actually learn to become a much better communicator, which is absolutely vital when you think about working with people. Most conflict arises from miscommunication; most things go wrong through miscommunication. Most problems usually occur through miscommunication, so I think having a coach can actually help you to identify and relate to people better.
Theresa Durrant:There are also some very simple techniques that you can use, and this might even go back to the previous section when you were talking about people getting into jobs in an industry they’ve not worked in before. There’s a little exercise that you can do that’s called modelling.
Theresa Durrant:Modelling excellence. So if you’re an aspiring manager, but you don’t know how to be a manager yet, there’s a way of just modelling someone who does what you do or want to do, really well. You just get under the skin of why do they do what they do, how do they do it, what are they thinking, what are they feeling when they’re doing it? And just by understanding enables you to change your behaviours, that actually you can take on. If you think about it, every child models the world around them when they’re growing up. You learn to walk by copying people walking; you learn to talk by copying other people talk. As children, we’ve all sat there at the dining room table, and you’re having a mouthful of soup and your little daughter or son, or whoever it is, they’re copying you doing that thing.
Theresa Durrant:So we shut off from that as we get older. It’s kind of hooking back into that and saying “do you know what? If there’s somebody that does what I want to do really well; I’m going to figure out how they do it and just do it myself”.
Deborah A.:I really think you’re right because I used to work for a lady and she really did my head in when she did a thing, everything was list, list, list, and order, order, order. We actually got a lot done that way. I found myself, that I do that now. I literally stole that from her. When I want to be efficient, when I want to make sure that this is done, I become this person. I’ll call her Jane. I become Jane.
Theresa Durrant:Well you were doing that without even realising that you were doing it.
Deborah A.:Yeah. I just do it. So I think you’re right. Also, what about if you’re in a dead end job, so before trying to get into management you would say modelling, modelling, trying to look at what…
Theresa Durrant:I think any job that you want to get into where … I mean okay, there needs to be a level of skill there. You can’t suddenly go out and be a surgeon.
Deborah A.:We’re just touching this softly, because of course if people do need this type of insight, I’ve never heard of this modelling thing before.
Theresa Durrant:But I mean, certainly if you’re in a position now and you’re thinking, I want to get to the next level, I don’t quite know how to do it, it is to go out and speak to the people that are in the job that you actually want.
Theresa Durrant:Absolutely, LinkedIn, go on to forums, you go to Facebook groups, you can get on Twitter, and just ask them what is it that you do? Why do you do it? How do you do it? Ask yourself who do you know that does what you want to do? Ideally, if you can get them in a room and have a conversation with them, but do you know what, I mean as humans we love to talk about ourselves. Just get yourself on a forum and start asking questions and you’ll be amazed at what answers you get back.
Deborah A.:Okay. Also, just before we round off, could you maybe tell us the service that you offer, and just maybe some things that you can help with if anybody’s interested.
Theresa Durrant:So I, since 2014, have been coaching now and pretty much what I offer is performance coaching, business coaching, career coaching, lifestyle coaching. It’s about modelling excellence; it’s also about overcoming limiting beliefs, I can help people with things like how to prepare for presentations, how to build confidence, all sorts of things really, how to be better parents, better managers, better mothers.
Theresa Durrant:So yeah, it’s coaching. The beauty of coaching, it’s not just stuck in one area, it can cover lots of things, but yeah. I mean I suppose the area that I do the most work in is work, career coaching, and performance coaching.
Deborah A.:Okay. So if you do need to get to Theresa, just drop me a line, and I’ll pass on the right information. I think one more thing I wanted to ask you was three more things actually, well we’re getting to the end of it. I have been having a really great time talking to you, from not signing up to go to university, working in a shop, knowing that you like tech, starting this business with your husband, almost 10 years?
Deborah A.:Managing people, helping people, just in your experience as for me, just a little world that I’ve had so far, one of the things that I would advise anybody that I stand by is work hard.
Deborah A.:It’s just my own personal thing. I feel like I’ve gotten by by working hard. But there are other things that I could say. So if you had to pick one thing just from everything that you’ve done so far, and from experience, because you would have had to speak to VPs, everyone from up there to down there, to the middle, to people like me, whatever. What’s that one thing that you can say, look, do this, and you might be on the right track?
Theresa Durrant:Do you know what, for me, it’s taking absolute responsibility. It’s easy to blame other people when things don’t go right, it’s easy to blame external influences when things don’t go right, but hand on heart you are in control of yourself. You are the hero of your own story. So just don’t be the victim. So I would always say just take absolute responsibility for everything you do.
Deborah A.:Oh my god. That is so true because that’s one of the hardest things to do.
Theresa Durrant:It is. And sometimes it’s not easy. Sometimes it makes you want to curl up in a ball.
Deborah A.:You can’t.
Theresa Durrant:But pick yourself up, dust yourself off, because no one’s going to make the change for you, so just take responsibility and just….if you want it, you make it happen.
Deborah A.:Okay, I think that’s right. Yeah. And do you know what, just because you say that it just reminds me of Serena, because this past week she’s had a lot of issues. And it’s … I watched that clip, and it’s ah, this woman is this and this, and I’m thinking, yeah, but this gentleman, the way you’ve spoken to him is vile.
Theresa Durrant:It could have been handled better. Absolutely.
Deborah A.:It could have been handled better. But it’s taking responsibility for … I’m going to hold them to that one. Thank you for that. So, another thing I wanted to ask you, two things, is on DCHT, we talk a lot about the underdog. So I’d love to know, what does the word underdog, what does it mean to you?
Theresa Durrant:That’s a really good question, actually. I’d probably say underdog to me is just somebody who hasn’t realised their own potential yet. Because I think we could fall into the category, the underdog label is given by somebody else. But you know what, you’re only an underdog if you think you’re an underdog. You don’t have to think like that.
Deborah A.:Yeah. And I think it has a spin on it anyway, and then would you say, well probably would you say you’re an underdog or you’ve been an underdog?
Theresa Durrant:Okay, so if we’re going to put … Again, if we were going to put the label on it, yeah I probably didn’t come from the most privileged background at all. I didn’t go to university, I get that was my choice so I take responsibility for that because we’re here, we’re doing that. I probably would say it was a … It could be perceived as an underdog position but I don’t think I would have ever thought of myself like that. Again, I think when I was younger I had a fairly difficult background but I knew quite early on that I was in charge of my own destiny and I could change that if I wanted to.
Deborah A.:Okay, thank you for that. And the only reason why we always ask that, because for me personally, my take on it, is that even if you’re an underdog, whether it’s a bad thing or a good thing, I believe that underdog always wins. If anybody ever says, oh look at those people, they would never amount to anything. Those people, the people who they say that to, when you look at it, it’s always the people that are doing the extraordinary stuff.
Deborah A.:When you look at stories of some of these successful people that we look at, it’s I used to walk for miles with no shoes on, I used to eat out of the bin. Some of the stories that I’ve heard. For me, I believe that the underdog, even if it feels like it’s an underdog, if someone calls you an underdog, you must deliver. You will come and come far. That’s the way I look at it.
Theresa Durrant:The thing is, you’re only whatever you tell yourself. Its almost like, it’s sticks and stones may hurt me, and words and all that don’t hurt me. If you start to believe it about yourself, that’s when you become the underdog. So for me, it’s about whatever you tell yourself is the absolute truth. If you’re telling yourself you’re the underdog, you’re going to be the underdog because your brain can’t compute it any other way.
Theresa Durrant:And yeah, people by and large, they will come good, but you have to realise it’s not an easy road, and I think people sometimes give up too soon. You might have to try … Thomas Edison, who invented the light bulb, 10,000 attempts at inventing it, and each time it was just an opportunity to learn from his mistakes last time. You just have to keep going, eventually you will get there.
Deborah A.:Okay, well we’ve come to the end.
Theresa Durrant:So sad.
Deborah A.:Thank you so much for coming on and thank you for just sharing some of your golden nuggets, and this is what DCHT is about, it’s about me sharing some of the people … Because I feel selfish, you know, emailing you and you helping me. Other people need to.
Theresa Durrant:You’ve given me something in return as well, thanks.
Deborah A.:Oh god, I hope so, I hope so. But thank you so much. So guys, thank you so much for listening to this episode of DCHT, and I look forward to seeing you next week or speaking to you next week. Like I always say, I really don’t know what you’re going through in your personal life and your career, and anything that you’re doing, but one of the things that I do and I try my best to do is just keep going, keep going. Pick up that book, read it, call that person, just do something. Keep going and your big break is around the corner. Thank you.
Deborah A.:Hi guys, thank you for listening to Deborah’s Corporate Hard Talk. You can connect with me on Instagram at DeborahsHardTalk or you can visit my website www.deborah.tech and to get involved in any of the conversation, #DeborahsHardTalk. Thank you and goodbye until next time.