BW Legal Celebrates Women in Business

International Women’s Day is on 8th March 2019 and to mark the occasion we are celebrating the achievements of women in business. Here at BW Legal and we are passionate about championing women in the workplace and this week we will be sharing the stories of highly successful women at BW Legal.

In this article, Samantha Cooke talks about how she progressed through the business to head-up the Learning and Development team. She discusses how to get the best out of others and the importance of striking a good work-life balance.

Tell us about you and your role at BW Legal

I have been employed by BW Legal for 5 years and currently stand as the L&D Manager.

Within this role I am responsible for ensuring that all colleagues are upskilled and knowledgeable to carry out and succeed in their roles. I continuously strive to implement new processes and learning practices to stay ahead of modern day technology and learning and keep delivering the best for all.

I feel I am a true patron for learning and development and have been told on a few occasions that I am a little bit ‘geeky’ when it comes to theory models, finding out new ways of working and creating interactive learning materials.

How did you get to where you are today and who helped you along the way?

My whole career began as an Apprentice in Administration nearly 10 years ago.

Within that firm, as I built myself up, I started to get familiar with recruitment and then fell in love with the HR world. When looking to move positions I was faced with the disappointment of “sorry, you just don’t have the experience” which when trying to start your career in HR was horrible to hear.

I chose to begin studying via home learning to try give my career that boost. The hard work was paying off a few months into my studies as I was given an amazing opportunity here as a HR Coordinator at BW Legal by Rachael.

Knowing that I didn’t have much experience and starting out in my career, I was so grateful to Rachael for giving me a chance. My friends, family and partner all played their part in driving me to where I am today and were always on hand with a hug/chocolate/wine and motivation when I was faced with challenges.

I have continued my studies during my employment and worked my way up to HR & Training Manager and then L&D Manager in 2017. Currently I am working to complete my Level 7 CIPD by end of 2020 and an Assessors Award in 2019 with immense support from my line manager and Rachael. Their belief and support keeps driving me to learn more and do more in this role for everyone at BW Legal.

What advice has stayed with you throughout your career?

“You’re going to be remembered for the things that you say and do”

Most commonly sang in Bugsy Malone (one of the greatest movies of all time) it has stuck by me throughout my career.

Is there anything you still struggle with and how do you overcome it?

Self confidence is a big one for myself. I struggle greatly with identifying my own achievements and worth in situations. I have learnt (but not perfected all the time) to stop and reflect.

Reminding myself, if I am not worthy to be here, then why have they asked for my input in meetings. I must be worthy if my thoughts, ideas and values are taken into consideration.

At the end of each day I ask myself, what one thing have I achieved today and what positive can I take from my day. It could be as simple as: I worked out how to fix the layering on an eLearning course by myself; or we have implemented a new training process to be more efficient.

What have you learned about the importance of leadership and getting the best out of others?

Working within my small team I have learnt the importance of being open and honest and learning from each other.

There are times where I am faced with challenges which I don’t have the full knowledge on and look to my team to support and teach me on what they know. When it is something they need support and teaching on I will never turn my back on them but support and guide them to the answer.

We all don’t have the answers and I make it clear to my team and other stakeholders that it is ok to shout up and ask as we are all learning together.

I value every contribution my team makes and no matter what is achieved in this department I will never discredit my team. What they do is accountable to the success of the department and business.

How do you achieve a good work life balance?

It’s easy to say “I keep them both separate” but I can find this difficult to do, especially if I’m having a high pressured or stressful day.

When I leave work the one main thing I do on the journey home is listen to music. My playlist varies from Frank Sinatra, 90’s retro, 00’s RnB to UK Charts and find it can clear my mind from the day. I think what is also important is to do things outside of work you enjoy. It’s easy to say ‘but I’m so tired’ but pushing yourself to meet with friends, cook fresh meals or watch a good film and a good nights sleep can help shake off the day and revitalise you for the next day.

What advice would you give to women wanting to achieve more in their career?

You’re not a bad person for wanting to achieve your goals and ambitions. Find your vision and surround yourselves with strong leaders and aspire to be the best.

We should build each other up, no matter who we are or our experiences, rather than knock people down just to pave the way for yourself.

“Each person must live their life as a model for others.” – Rosa Parks.

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