Hello and welcome back to the Mama You Can series. I am really excited to share this weeks story with you. The Mama behind the article today is Sunita Harley who I met early on in my blogging journey.
I had seen a fellow blogger talk about Sunita’s Lucky Things events and they sounded like a fantastic place to learn, not just about blogging but about personal development.
Sunita was as lovely in person as she was over social media and she made me feel so comfortable at my first event as Surrey Mama! Sunita really knows her stuff, has some seriously smart advice for us all and I am thrilled to hand over to her to tell us her story…
Mama You Can: Sunita Harley, Lucky Things Blog
I live in London with my husband and our two IVF daughters aged 2 and 4. I have a thing for lounge discos with my girls! I’ve been a HR expert and Coach (for the past 15 years). Lucky Things is all about everyday inspiration and helping women across the world to feel more confident about looking after their own career and wellbeing.
I also run the sell-out social and networking events the Lucky Things Meet Ups for women across the UK. As I often say at the events, social media is great for connecting people but nothing beats seeing people in real life and this is so important for our wellbeing. I’m also super excited about launching my forthcoming webinars sharing lots of confidence, career and wellbeing tricks.
When did you decide to change direction in your work life?
A few of my friends set up their own HR consultancies over the years so I knew this could be an option to explore one day. I’ve always loved organising events and delivering workshops so it got me thinking about what else I can do with my career.
I rarely rush into quick decisions. I like to plan and map out the pros and cons! I’ve always felt pretty proud to work for the firms during my career. I’ve been at each one for at least 5 years. Working for big firms has been great for me. They really invested in my own confidence and professional development.
I’ve also worked with lots of incredible people and teams. My bosses have always been supportive of my career aspirations, whether it’s moving towards promotions and giving me cool project opportunities. They were also a huge support when I went through IVF treatment for both of our children. I didn’t have to hide the fact we were trying this out.
During my second maternity leave I started to think a bit longer term. We had a lot going on during my last maternity leave as my husband fell ill. I went back part-time again and it was perfect timing. I loved being back with the team and in the office. Later that year, I realised I needed to give my HR consultancy Collective Insight and Lucky Things projects a proper go. Then I could see if it would all work before my eldest started school in September 2017. I knew I wanted to do something else with all of my senior HR, coaching and learning and development expertise. I didn’t want any of it to go to waste.
I’ve worked in an amazing HR team for the past 5 years and so I knew I’d miss them heaps. But my bosses knew I’m creative and ambitious so they weren’t surprised that I wanted to try something different as a HR bod. During my last maternity leave I told my boss I started a blog and she paid me one of the best compliments ever. So it made sense to combine the blog and my HR expertise.
I felt nervous about the change and also working more on my own. Who wouldn’t? I worked as a freelancer in fashion, music and media in my early twenties so I already knew about the challenges. I also knew I’d miss the work restaurant as I love my food!
The weekend before my last week at the law firm I held the very first Lucky Things Meet Up in London. The feedback was amazing and I knew that I had to keep moving in this direction.
I’m lucky with my profession as I can always move back into HR roles or contract work if I want to work in-house. Maybe that helped my decision as I knew I have a back-up plan.
I’m a planner and like to know there are things in the pipeline. Before my last day at work, I already planned work to get stuck into. So I knew I wouldn’t be waiting around for work to come in. I had projects, events and coaching clients lined up for the next few months. You can still feel nervous though as managing your own business takes a lot of hard work and energy.
Now you have taken the plunge how are things going?
If I’m honest, quite a lot has happened over the past 7 months. Through my HR consultancy I’m still working with corporate organisations which is great.
The Lucky Things Meet Ups are sell-out events and I’m scheduling the 2018 dates and speakers across the UK. They’re known for being inclusive, down-to-earth and friendly social events for women.
I’m now running the Lucky Things Locals around London as I’m rolling out a new confidence workshop for women. The North London one went down well a few weeks ago!
Someone reminded me the other day that I’m one of the only events organisers who has taken their events across the country. I’d never thought of that before. So I’m glad I’ve given things a go with my events.
Over the past few months, my blog has led to some fantastic opportunities like speaking about wellbeing at Blogtacular in June 2017 or heading out to the Mom 2.0 blogger conference in Orlando with Dove last May. I’ve also appeared on national BBC radio a few times chatting about Lucky Things, my Instagram profile, sleep and parenting tricks!
I’m obviously chuffed about being a Finalist for the Inspire category for the 2017 #BiBs BritMums Brilliance in Blogging awards. That is something I certainly didn’t expect to happen when I went along to the BritMums conference last year. It was lovely being a Runner Up for the 2017 Top London Mummy Blogger award.
There are lots of interesting things to work on at the moment, like my webinar series. I want this to help women across the UK (and beyond!) to benefit from quality bite-size personal and professional development. Everyone deserves to invest in their confidence and skills but it’s not always possible to do squeeze this in during our working days.
What advice would you give to other Mama’s who are thinking about making a change to their working life?
I coach women a lot on their confidence, return to work, career changes, promotions and ideas for the future. Changes to your working life can mean so many different things can’t they? Here’s 3 things that spring to mind if someone’s thinking of a career change.
Jot down everything you’d like to try out. Then work out what is more achievable and what you’re really good at.
If you’re leaving your job to try something different, work out your new lifestyle/living budget for your career change. What’s the minimum you need to earn to cover your basic budget? Be ready to make sacrifices. Yep, that could mean less fancy coffees in the morning, less Zara sale searching online and more DIY manicures!
You really need to look after your own confidence when you’re juggling changes to your working life, so don’t be afraid to invest in yourself. Don’t expect success to happen over night. Be prepared to welcome the failures as well as highs along the way. Failures make us more career and business resilient. Always speak to others about any career struggles you’re facing so you feel supported. Don’t deal with things on your own. I said this at the July Lucky Things Meet Up in London – I believe career and wellbeing come hand in hand. They impact each other and you need to look after your confidence and wellbeing to feel happy in your working life.
Thanks so much to Sunita for sharing her story with us.