Last but by no means least in this series, we asked our Chief Operating Officer, Jennifer Marnoch to name five things that changed her life. Here’s what she said:
1. Becoming an Aunt
My brother has three children aged between 4 and 17, so whilst I have no children of my own I feel very lucky to be a huge part of their lives. We’re a close family and it’s been really special watching them grow up, doing lots of cool stuff with them and then getting to hand them back at the end of the day! They’re all are so different, and it’s great being able to be a child again with the youngest whilst getting to hang out with the two older ones, as they advise me on all things ‘cool’!
My career started in the travel industry so I guess travel is something that was always in my bones. I’ve been lucky enough to travel a lot, experiencing many different cultures. I’m often asked why I choose the type of trips I do, and the answer is that as much as I love lying on a sunbed and chilling for a while, the world is too exciting not to explore. I find it a great way to take myself out of my comfort zone – from sleeping in a tent in the Sahara desert to motorbiking in Vietnam. And I won’t even go into the amount of (in my mind) ‘near death’ experiences I have encountered! Travel has made me modest as it really makes you see what a tiny place you occupy in the world.
3. The loss of a friend
I lost one of my best friends to suicide nearly six years ago. Her death made me realise that no matter how much you think you know someone, you never really know what is going on inside their life; and that you should always make time for those around you no matter how busy you are. I constantly question what more I could have done to support her, and the guilt of not being able to help her is something that will stay with me forever. She was one of the most beautiful and kind people I knew, and both her friendship and her death have encouraged me to grasp every opportunity life throws at you and be grateful for what you have, to be kind and to appreciate the good people you have around you.
4. Having parents who believed in me
From a young age my parents challenged me to always do my best and at times were ruthless in their feedback. Whilst I thought at the time this was because they believed ‘I wasn’t good enough’, sense prevailed and I realised they were ensuring my expectations (which at times were dramatic) were not unattainable. It became clear to me as I matured that they always believed in me, and no matter what path I took in life they would always be proud of me and be there to support me. They made me who I am, taught me to be a good person, instilled my strong belief of right and wrong and that if you want something in life you have to work hard to achieve it. Above all else they gave me two very strong role models to look up to in life.
5. Learning from great leaders
When I started out in working life, like every enthusiastic career starter, I thought a boss was a boss! As my career developed I came to realise the difference between a boss and a leader. In some of the roles I have undertaken I have been fortunate enough to work with a number of people whose leadership attributes enabled them to navigate through very difficult times. I learned from their wisdom and judgement and realised the benefit of building an effective team of people around you and how this helps in making sound decisions, particularly when times are tough. The great leaders empowered me to realise my potential through encouragement, constructive feedback and support.
The experience of working with these people has taught me that there isn’t a unique recipe for leadership, and that whilst there are different styles, what’s key is to be yourself and to follow your instincts, whilst valuing the input of those around you.