I worked for ten years as a Marine Engineer on a ship. I was away from home for up to five months at a time, most often the only female on board and I sailed around the world progressing from a cadet to study to Chief Engineer level, all before I was 32. I visited countries from Australia, Papua New Guinea to Bermuda and the US. I worked on oil tankers and gas carriers supplying much needed fuel to small towns on the coast of New Zealand and Thailand to The Netherlands, I worked out of Scotland in Aberdeen and Shetland on supply boats to the rigs in the north sea, and I worked on tall ships, sail training on the Leeuwin 2 and adventure voyages circumnavigating Australia on The Endeavour replica of Captain Cooks ship that discovered Australia and New Zealand.
I had a deep love of engineering, detail and fixing and seeing things work, but this was equally matched by the delight and satisfaction I got from seeing someone grow and know that I was part of this. One ship springs to mind, there was a team in the engine room, with a number of Irish engineers, two cadets were introduced into our team and I took one under my wing and the other went to another engineer, it became a friendly competition on who would mentor and develop the best cadet! I had to train and mentor a man who was a foot taller than me and about three times the size! We got on famously and will always remain the A team! Here I realised that while working in a structured male dominated hierarchy that the modern and often female traits, collaboration, compassion and fostering growth actually complement the traditional leadership stalwarts and high standards that we know.
A number of years later I was working and living in Dublin after I moved home from the sea and my housemate was going for a job, she fretted and mentioned that she should have gone to ‘one of those people’, I laughed asking what that was, she said ‘one of those people that can help you prepare for an interview’, I can do that. We propped for the interview and she got it.
At this stage I was thinking I really like doing this, could I do it for others? Could I make a career of it? I explored what would be involved and realised it was something I had to do. I set foot on the path to making it happen which led to me sitting in a classroom for a year studying coaching; life, business and executive. Further study in training and Development and a brave leap into the (very well researched) unknown a number of years later and here I am!
Always the organised and structured one, 15 years of engineering ensured that I still follow a structured engineering approach based on engineering background and principles. This ensures that the desired outcome is achieved as without the correct steps the end results would not be right, this is where the difference can be seen. When you work for so long in a world where the nearest fire truck or doctor is potentially almost 18,000 km away then you know that corners cannot be cut. In personal and professional development it is the same, if we cut corners then the individual wont achieve their potential, progress desired. The beauty of this and what I find most interesting is that, all said everyone is different and each journey does not look the same. So, we can use a framework and tailor it to each client so that they get the very most that they deserve, and are capable of.
I have been there, I have dreams and ambitions, fears and doubts and I am thriving. I have changed industries, careers and pivoted many times, all on the way to finding this, where I am now, where I have always wanted to be, I am closer every day and I am continuously growing into the person I was born to be. As Carl Jung said, The privilege of a lifetime is to become who we truly are.