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Friday Snippet: My Inner Cheerleader

Francesca Gunn My Inner Cheerleader

Four years ago, my Fnality (formally known as the ‘USC Project’) journey began. I walked into a little office by St Pauls Cathedral that looked like something between the Apple store (read slick and technologically advanced) and a beach hut (read rustic, laid back and the kind of place you wanted to hang out) and contained a handful of geniuses! I took a seat at my new desk and tried to take it all in; new job, new role, new colleagues, new industry, new city. It quickly dawned on me, I’m no longer living in Devon, working in uniform at a major trauma hospital. I’m now working for a super cool technology research and development company in the heart of London, focused on making significant improvements to the financial sector. That’s when the imposter syndrome kicked in. The following questions began wreaking havoc in my head: 'What am I doing here?', 'What can I bring to this company?', 'Why did I think yet another change in job role, industry and city was a good idea at my age?'

As we all know, hindsight really is a wonderful thing! When I reflect back on that time, I can now confidently answer those questions and am unlikely to ask myself them again in the future. This is all thanks to my journey with Fnality!

 

'What am I doing here?'

I was experimenting with how far I could stretch, adapt and develop the skills and knowledge that I currently had, and use these to support an entirely new goal I had set for myself. It turns out that, with the right attitude, it is absolutely possible to translate various past experiences into value for many other organisations. For me, this involves a flexible, agile mindset that looks at change as a challenge rather than a blocker.

Throughout my career, I have hopped from working in the entertainment industry (finance, agent and personal assistant), into fashion (styling, buying, merchandising), then design (interiors), onto healthcare (managing occupational therapy and physiotherapy administration teams), and currently financial technology (FinTech). The beauty of the latter is that I am able to work across any role I wish. Inconsistent though this might seem, it has actually equipped me with an eclectic cross-skilled toolkit, that means I am able to deliver in multiple different areas according to business requirements.

 

'What can I bring to this company?'

In short, emotional intelligence and lots of laughter!

At a young age, in primary school, I was told by a teacher that I should forget A-Levels and to not even think about university, as (in their opinion) there was no hope that I was going to pass my GCSE’s. All of this because I couldn’t keep up during dictation classes, which involved the teacher reading text and students writing it up word for word. My poor performance resulted in me having to stay in the classroom during breaks catching up on what the other children were able to achieve within the lesson. It didn’t bother me having to sacrifice a little of my time in order to keep up, because I wanted to achieve what I knew I could. What did bother me was being told not to have aspirations! As you can imagine, this could have gone one of two ways; totally give up on myself or keep on believing that I will succeed – regardless of what others think. I chose the latter of course! This was not the last time I was to hear that I couldn’t achieve something, in fact, it became a common theme throughout college, university and even with some (now ex!) partners. Being the character that I am, rather than this getting me down, it fuelled the fire within me. I wasn’t out to prove anyone wrong, but to prove to myself that I have everything I need to succeed; self-belief! As an iconic woman once said, ‘Nothing is impossible, the word itself says 'I'm possible'!’ (Audrey Hepburn). That determination fuelled me on to get a degree (2:1), winning a graduation prize for ‘outstanding progress’.

Finding out I was dyslexic whilst sitting my mock GCSEs explained a lot about why I was struggling with certain things. It did, however, highlight that I learn in different ways to others, which explains why I am drawn towards all things creative. I assumed that I would satisfy my creative dreams within the creative industries, but working in a hospital taught me to never assume such things. That’s when I discovered that working for a FinTech start-up would unexpectedly fulfil my creative desires far more than anything I had done before.

Fnality has provided me with the perfect environment to blossom into the person that my ‘inner cheerleader’ always reminded me I could be. It is the organisational culture that has been the foundation for my growth; both as a person and with regard to my knowledge. Fnality is a flat-structured organisation, designed around Agile methodologies, and made up of cross-skilled delivery teams. I started out in a change/stakeholder/relationship management role, coordinating external working groups, building towards strategic investment; eventually achieving a successful Series A funding round and the creation of a new entity, Fnality International. These first two years highlighted that the most value I bring to organisations is my way with people. It turns out that all of the different (positive and negative) encounters I have experienced with people had developed my emotional intelligence. That’s when I made the leap into People and Talent (P&T). Within P&T I am able to draw on all of my skills to support the success of others.

In my opinion, the reason the culture is so wonderful at Fnality, is due to the company being made up of such a wide variety of characters from hugely diverse backgrounds. I work with professors, entrepreneurs, artists, dancers, people that have studied with monks, and individuals from so many different countries. It’s glorious how much knowledge we are all able to share, to develop each other both intellectually but also culturally. Having cross-skilled teams, full of so much knowledge and diversity, is what I believe positively influences organisational culture. There’s an old saying, ‘happy wife, happy life’, which I have repurposed to summarise my point – ‘Happy team, is the dream’!

 

'Why did I think yet another change in job role, industry and city was a good idea at my age?'

Age, gender, ethnicity, sexual preferences – none of these things should ever hinder your dreams. Having first-hand experience of workplace bullying, I learnt that motivation, passion and desire to succeed, is the only thing that matters. Anyone that isn’t cheerleading you on, is probably jealous of your courage and drive! Whatever happens, do not let them stand in the way of your dreams and potential.

I am grateful to my inner cheerleader for not allowing me to give up on my dreams. As such, I have finally found my calling. I am delighted to share that Fnality are supporting my dreams by helping to fund a master’s level qualification in HR Management through CIPD (level 7). I was also nominated to complete Mental Health First Aid training, which has provided me with the tools to look out for my colleagues, especially through these challenging times with Covid.

The message I really hope that you take away from this blog is, if you have a dream, damn well go for it and don’t let anyone tell you that you are not worthy – because every single one of us are!

 

Happy Pride everyone, and remember, you only live once, so live and let live, love and let love!


Topics: Insider, Fnality, Views, pride, people, diversity, inclusion, Mental Health, Wellbeing, agile, Career, Tshaped, culture, Fnamily

Francesca Gunn

Written by Francesca Gunn

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