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What did I learn from taking part in the Empowering Women programme?

Photo of Sam Smith with the Socitm logo, both against a marble-effect background

Updated on Tuesday 4 June 2024.

Since August 2023 Sam has been working for Socitm as our Institute Director. Earlier this year she recorded a short message reflecting on the longer-term personal and professional impact of Empowering Women.

Read more about Belbin Team Roles and watch a webinar conversation between Aidan Matthews and Jo Keeler for an in-depth discussion of what they can offer you and your team.

Original reflections on Empowering Women from 2017:

Samantha Smith, Head of Strategy and Architecture and Interim Director of IT Operations at Local Government Shared Services (LGSS), discusses how the Empowering Women (EW) programme helped her grow on both a personal and professional level.

What do I want to accomplish and what did I want to be known for?

Two of many questions we were asked on the EW course. I thought I knew myself quite well when I started the course but when asked those questions I had to pause and reflect. I was keen to attend this course and really looking forward to it but found I was not prepared for its impact.

In practical terms it was well structured, thought through and very well delivered with a great balance of theoretical, practical and reflective material and really first-rate trainers. I’ll be honest, at most training events I’ve attended I’ve found myself getting bored and distracted at some point but not during this one. I was engaged, challenged and stimulated throughout.

Group support

As a group we really helped and supported each other and that was great as I met some people there that I am still in touch with and who have added significantly to my life. I can’t possibly relate all the things I learnt as we covered everything from neuroscience and how our brains learn and make patterns through to the latest research on external bias in the workplace. Some concepts that were familiar to me such as mindfulness, but used in the course rather than just being referenced as theory, while others such as the SCARF model of social threats and rewards were entirely new to me.

For me the variety of the subject matter is one of the course strengths as there is genuinely something in it for everyone and I could take what I needed from it. There is no expectation or pressure to use or remember it all and the individual coaching sessions helped me to focus on the specific areas that I needed to work on. This coaching happened after the course so I had time to reflect beforehand.

After the course

Since the course I have made use of several things I learnt there with the biggest takeaway being ‘feel the fear and do it anyway’, which as a concept (and almost a mantra) has taken me to places I didn’t expect – from paragliding from the top of a mountain to a new relationship and some really challenging work opportunities.

But just because that’s the biggest thing I’ve taken from the course doesn’t mean it’s the only one. I now consciously rehearse situations that may be difficult in order to be clear on what it is that I need to achieve and how to do it and there was one notable occasion I took myself off to a quiet place before a really difficult meeting to practice some mindfulness and I know that made a significant difference to the outcome.

Overall, I’m more confident, centred, and focused and I have a true sense of my life, my vision and what I want to achieve. I’m not saying I wouldn’t have any of that without the course but I do know I wouldn’t have it all or some of the key tools and techniques I use on a daily basis.

I may not know the exact answers to the questions at the top of this blog but I do know they are questions that I have to ask.

Course details and dates can be found on in our events calendar.