How do you feel your confidence has changed over the past 10 years?

I do believe in myself more now than I ever have. People who know me might think I am confident, but I have always struggled with self-doubt. However, I have always tried to be brave and not let fear hold me back. That’s becoming easier with age and experience.

During my thirties, as a mum of young children, I felt invisible to the rest of the world. I adore my children and loved that special time with them but I couldn’t go back to my old job after my first maternity leave (they wouldn’t give me any flexibility and so I couldn’t make it work). I had to restart my career, in a totally new sector from a very junior position. Moving from retail to the charity sector proved to be the best decision I’ve ever made.

Why do you think that is?

I think age helps as I have learnt to take my own wins and worry less about what other people think of me. I have also found two things that I know I am good at; being a mum and charity CEO.

I have found it easier to do what I believe is right, this has made me have a lot more confidence in my decision making.

I think the early days of the pandemic helped with this. There was no time for self-doubt or to question myself; we all had to make quick decisions, both personally and professionally. As a CEO of a charity supporting people with dementia I remember telling myself ‘you’ve got a big girl’s job now Katie, people are relying on you! You can sink or swim!’

Do you feel invisible in some aspects of your life? How does that show up?

My thirties were a time of feeling very invisible. During my first pregnancy, when I was working in retail operations, a male director just stopped talking to me. It was if he was saying ‘you have no value to us now’. I will forever be so grateful to the boss I had during my second pregnancy, who gave an absolute masterclass in how to manage pregnancy, maternity leave and the return to work for an employee.

I do still feel invisible sometimes now, I have come across men who deliberately try to make women feel invisible. Only recently I was doing a meet and greet with a local politician to show off the amazing work my charity does and all he wanted to know was what my husband did for a living.

Tell me about a woman who is older than you, inspires you and why? Describe how she makes you feel.

It’s always been my mum. She has been ahead of her time with having a career and raising her family. Then when my dad died she trail-blazed flexible working. She has definitely role modelled being an amazing mum and being successful in business. She showed me that even if you don’t believe in yourself believe in what you know to be true.

She also taught me that women should lift and support other women. Of course my mum is my number one cheerleader but I remember her always doing that for other women.

What worries you about ageing?

I am not going to lie the superficial stuff like not being happy with how I look does worry me. It’s probably a fear of becoming invisible again. Working with people living with dementia I regularly see there is a stark reality of how the appearance can be ravaged by age or illness. I would struggle to feel that I was me if I didn’t have my hair cut nicely and make-up on.

At ADSS we are passionate about getting to know the person and so many of the women we support are not given the chance to look how they want. Then my wonderful team of Care Workers come into people’s lives and get them to hairdressers, paint nails or buy lipsticks etc. This then gives the person confidence to go out and about, invite friends over. I don’t think it’s about beauty or vanity; it’s about what makes you you!

What excites you about ageing?

The thought of growing old does just excite me. I think loosing a parent at a young age makes you value life and cherish each day. To be more specific though, I think the thought of freedom excites me. I am looking forward to growing in even more confidence. Juggling a career and two children doesn’t always leave much time for me to do what I want. I have especially felt this recently as my eldest son has been really unwell with Long Covid, at a time when he wanted to need me less and less he needed me more than ever.

What advice would you give your 15-year-old self?

So much advice was needed. I was a wanna be rebel but I didn’t have a clue. But my advice would be surround yourself with people you admire, who challenge your thinking but not your feelings. Always be yourself and those people will find you.

Also if you are in a position to let another woman know you believe in them and they are great, do it. I have been lucky to work with and be surrounded by women who have done that for me.

Do you have your own question for another woman?

The question I would like to ask another women is to Baroness Lawrence. Every time I see her on TV or hear about her fight for justice, for her son Stephen, I always think ‘how did she even get out of bed in the early days after the murder’. My question to her would be how did you find the strength to fight and keep fighting?