1. In your career, what’s the worst advice you’ve ever been given, and why?

On reflection, the advice that influenced my early career the most was to distance myself from my team as I grew into a leadership role.  I was told by my boss at the time that in order to be seen as a leader, I needed to stop socialising with everyone and to create a ‘hierarchy gap’, thereby insinuating that you can’t be friendly and professional at the same time. 

My sudden change in behaviour and perceived aloofness meant that I lost the trust, authenticity, and friendship I had spent years building, which ultimately made leadership more difficult. I lost respect and friendships. Ultimately, the environment became so toxic I had to leave.  

Lesson learned - be yourself!

2. What’s your biggest ‘Cappuccino Career Cock-up’?

There have been a lot of embarrassing moments for sure, but I don’t have a single cock-up that stands out, they are more like ‘death by paper-cuts’ of the same behaviour, and that is saying ‘yes’ when I really meant ‘no’.


This led me to staying too long in positions and environments that were not good for me, and in some instances compromising my own values and personal wellbeing to just ‘go with it’. 

I didn’t appreciate that I could say no. I didn’t understand that pushing back was not a sign of weakness, but done thoughtfully and timely, can foster more respect and make life a lot easier in the long run. 

3. What were your lessons from that? (referencing to Q2)

I had to learn the lesson of not saying no the hard way through physical and mental burnout.  

I realised that the mental trap of pleasing people had made me angry and resentful. 

A boss once told me to stop looking for the company to love me. It wasn’t a person, and could never give me what I was looking for. I had to find that in myself first. 

It was way too much for my frazzled brain to grasp at the time, but it is something I have never forgotten.

So, years later, I set out to understand why I had burnt out and how to stop it happening again.  I took up meditation, got sober, and retrained as a leadership coach.  I built a workplace wellbeing business, and I am now driven to help people in our high paced industry avoid the mistakes I made, and to create a more thoughtful modern workplace.  

4. What is the importance of making mistakes when paving your career path?

Mistakes, and accepting them, is the only way to learn.  

I got my start in the ad industry over 24 years ago, when we were all making it up. We 100% made mistakes as no-one had trodden the path before. But I am so grateful for those early whiteboard and colour pen sessions, and while we might have taken some wrong product turns in those early days, the ethics of how to do good business; don’t burn a bridge, respect and plan for long term relationships and not the quick wins, have remained with me throughout my career.  

5. Summary: as a leader, what advice would you ABSOLUTELY NOT give anyone now?

Win at all costs. 

There is always a cost and it is never just financial. 

Your physical, mental and emotional health are what are important at the end of the day. Looking after ourselves makes us better at business as well as being human!

Challenge your own sense of what is right and wrong for YOU, not the company, but your beliefs and ensure that your workplace reflects those. 

Remember, no-one sits on their deathbed and says I wish I had worked for more assholes!