Challenging the stereotypical definitions of success, Barbara Elizabeth Conner chose to define success in her own terms and rightly so. It is never comfortable to introspect, accept and act upon an instinct that might change the course of your life. It demands courage and a strong will to dedicate yourself to that instinct and Barbara effortlessly did so through the course of her life.
Barbara considers herself lucky as although her parents weren’t rich in a financial sense, “Myself and my younger sister were loved, nurtured and supported and had a happy and healthy upbringing,” she shares. Barbara completed her Bachelor of Science (B.Sc.) degree from the University of Paisley in Business IT with eBusiness. She further pursued her Post Graduate Diploma from the University of Aberdeen in Community Learning & Development, With Commendation.
She went straight from leaving school to working in the private sector for much longer than a decade. She then left that job and went to college and university to study IT for 3 years. When she graduated, she fell into a job at her local Volunteer Centre and has been there for nearly 16 happy years now. It was there where she got the opportunity to go back to university to get her Post Graduate Diploma in Community Learning & Development. Barbara feels very blessed to have done so.
“After finishing my degree course in IT, I fully intended on having a career in integrating databases with websites,” she shares. However, seldom do our plans work out when destiny has bigger things planned out for us. Similar was the case with Barbara when she joined the Volunteer Centre. She had an epiphany that changed her life for the better.
Barbara joined the Volunteer Centre as sessional cover for someone’s maternity leave for 8 weeks. She started to work there as their receptionist and quickly moved into a Development Worker post. Barbara reveals, “I realised that while I had thought my skill set was based around technology, what I really liked to do, and was good at, was really working with people and I’ve never looked back.”
We often try to stick to a path and keep our options unexplored due to a predefined notion that appears to be comfortable. However, we fail to realize that opportunities are everywhere and what can suit us best can also be something we never have explored. It takes immense courage and confidence in oneself to plunge into something that we have less experience about. Barbara is certainly one confident woman to take the plunge and find success in something that was never in her list of to-do’s.
In the voluntary sector, which Barbara loves, they support community groups and organisations to develop and grow. Barbara describes, “We were a Volunteer Centre and we are now a Third Sector Interface, we support volunteers and community groups and organisations”. “We’re the link between the voluntary sector and our statutory partners.” “We represent, as best we can, the sector at various operational and strategic levels and try to make sure that our community planning partners know what an invaluable part of society our local groups and organisations are,” she explains.
Barbara’s biggest challenge was how much there was, and still is, to learn. She highlights a common quote, “so much to learn and not enough time’’ to explain her views. “It’s a steep learning curve and realising that you can never know everything was a challenge as I was the type of person who felt that I needed all the answers,” she shares.
While it’s not a venture, in her job, Barbara now doesn’t dread Sunday evenings and the end of holidays – miserable at the prospect of going to work every morning. “Every day is different in my current role and while every day’s a school day that’s no bad thing,” she claims.
She also shares a very strong message for our readers, “It’s not about falling down – it’s about getting back up again. Also, never underestimate the power of a conversation”.