Following on from our International Women’s Day post, we want to shine a spotlight on women in business that are inspiring the next generation of leaders! Sandra Wiggins at DPI has kindly spared some time for a Q&A to give insight in to her inspirations, advice for young women, and her time in the manufacturing industry.
1. Tell us a bit about your current role
I am Managing/Financial Director. I have ultimate responsibility for financial and strategic planning of the business ensuring that company objectives are met, and report to the Directors and Board Members.
I deal in the day-to-day ensuring that it all runs smoothly (I do smile at that) but hey it is part of the role! I deal with all government perimeters/legislation, HR, H&S, the list is endless. I collaborate with professional bodies to ensure we run the business with a best practice approach.
2. What advice would you give young girls that aspire to a leadership position?
- Never stop asking questions
- Never stop opening your mind to learning
- Listen more than you speak
- Never be afraid to admit you were wrong or change your mind
- Use your intuition
- Failure is an opportunity to begin again
- Life is a journey not a destination
- Respect yourself as if you don’t value you, nobody else will.
- Never be afraid to challenge anything that doesn’t sit with your own integrity.
- You’re never too old to start again or try something different.
- Accept you are responsible for you own actions.
Two of my favourite inspirational quotes are “Believe in yourself, and you will be unstoppable” and “Be who you needed when you were younger”. They are both very true.
3. What barriers have you overcome as a woman in business?
Now this question is deep, and I have been in therapy to get over some of this. The biggest barrier has been my own assumptions of what other people think of me, this is why I advocate the quote “Believe in yourself & you will be unstoppable”.
I spent a lot of time thinking that I didn’t have anything relevant to say, hated the sound of my own voice and thought that to be seen as a professional business woman, I needed to have that ‘ball-busting bitch attitude’!
Since leaving school, I have worked in industries that have been perceived to be ‘male dominated’. British Rail, International Shipping, Running/Owning a Public House, and now running a manufacturing business.
I have spent years aspiring to be seen as an equal to males, but since I decided to invest time in myself I appreciate that I am an individual and I don’t want to be equal to anybody. As long as my behaviour and ethics align with my aspirations and beliefs, life seems to have become less challenging, much more fun, with many more opportunities. Another phase I love is ‘Be yourself, everyone else is taken’, thank you Oscar Wilde.
4. What/Who inspires and motivates you?
What and who inspires me! Self-made, confident, unassuming people inspire me. It’s that story of overcoming adversity but coming out the other side a balanced beautiful person. People with morals and who are not afraid to challenge the status quo, to be a voice of those that are unheard.
My husband, my children and grandchildren all inspire me. They make me want to be a better me and change the world every day. My friends that have been through life changing illnesses or experiences that don’t sit and wallow in self-pity are also inspiring.
I have met many inspirational men and women in my professional network and it always amazes me how quickly we get to their ‘why’s’ and journey of life. I am constantly inspired with the team from TwentyTwenty, every single time I meet any of them or the Young adults they support I am just in awe of how invested they are in making a difference.
I also have a massive girl crush on Meryl Streep and Helen Mirren. They are not afraid to speak for what they believe in, and they are two strong, beautiful, confident women.
5. What skills do you think are important to be successful in your job?
Empathy, resilience, and an ability to see the bigger picture. I hate the phase helicopter view, but really that is what you need. You need to be able to engage with everybody, and that only comes from being empathetic and having a passion about people and what you do. You need oodles of resilience as it can be a very lonely place but so rewarding when you see your team grow in confidence.
6. What does having a day like International Women’s Day mean to you?
I was so lucky to have been shortlisted in 2018 as EM Chamber Enterprising Women Entrepreneur of the Year. It took another woman within my business network pointing out how far I have come in business and making me celebrate that achievement.
I owe a lot to a supportive husband, family, and business partner to make that achievement so I also want to celebrate all the males in my life. We talk a lot about behind every successful man there is a supportive woman, well that actually goes both ways. I have a supportive husband Derek and Business partner Paul. Can you imagine having to compromise with two guys, that’s where my resilience comes in!
International Women’s Day should be seen as just that, celebrating women, celebrating their achievements being grateful to our female predecessors for changing the world for all females to have a voice and not used as an excuse to berate men. I am not a feminist I am just accepting of my own abilities and if people misconstrue what I say, that is their interpretation and I am not responsible for how they receive it.
The world has come a very long way, with acceptance, tolerance and respect and we are a better place for it, but we need to balance it better. International women’s day has personally allowed me to celebrate my femininity, indulge in my love of all things pink and realise that to be accepted as a peer in business it’s not about how I look or dress, it’s about who I am as a person.
7. Are there any barriers you think women still face in your sector?
I am in a manufacturing sector, that has come a long way. We need more work in schools to show youngsters what different sectors there are out there. I started in a typing pool as I was female so of course I was going to be working in an office, I don’t even remember their being a choice when I left school. I am so pleased to say that is no longer the mind-set and it certainly as changed for the better. You have people like Charlotte Horobin, Joanne Bekis, that in my mind are leading this sector.
Females bring a different perspective because we are different not equal, not better, just good in own rights. Barriers are only their if you allow them to be, if you want something enough you will find a way, my grounded upbringing, coaching and life skills have taught me that.