Sally Hindmarch is a mother, wife and business owner.
She tells us that, “Having learnt my customer service and operational skills in the retail and database marketing sectors I moved into training; helping business people who feel they aren’t heard at work, to communicate more effectively. I’ve run the communication specialist company, Partners With You, for over twenty years and my team and I have supported thousands of people at all stages of their career to look and sound more confident than they feel. I’m a certified PRISM Brain Mapping Practitioner and we use techniques to help our clients from the world of theatre.”
What were your initial years of growing up like? Tell us about your life before starting your corporate journey/venture/initiative.
I had a happy childhood, the middle of three children, growing up in Rickmansworth, Hertfordshire. I didn’t enjoy the academic rigour of school and only achieved a mediocre set of A’ levels. Despite this I managed to get a place to study at Nene College, Northampton in what was to be a defining period in my life. Combining Psychology and Drama as the core of my degree and a desire to make life better for others I got involved in the charity MIND and Student Politics. Running a youth group for MIND and being Welfare Officer for the Student Union weren’t so far apart in terms of the skills I developed; an ability to see both sides of every story, to listen and to be able to remove my emotions far enough away to give pragmatic advice but not so far away that I didn’t care. After a year as President of the Student Union and then running my first business, a market stall selling hand-crafted gifts (a success until Christmas but a failure in February), I spent the next 4 years in retail, working for John Lewis on their Management Training Scheme at Peter Jones in Sloane Square, London. The training I got there has stood me in good stead ever since and I still use many of the skills I learnt there on a daily basis. Always up for a new challenge I then took the offer of a customer facing and sales role at a mailing house; the start of a 15-year career in direct marketing. I was never the one who came up with the ideas but I found I had a skill for translating client speak into instructions, getting the best from those I worked with and understanding when one of the team said ‘No’ whether it really couldn’t be done or it was just easier not to! In 2000 as the Head of Operations for a Direct Marketing Company and responsible for the management of one of the largest business site databases in the country I decided to take all the negotiation, customer service and organisational skills honed over the previous two decades and set up Partners With You with the strap-line “Helping our clients to stop annoying their customers!”. Since then, it has developed into the training company Partners With You and I get to use all the skills I have developed across my career, which I love!
Every industry that is now a large-scale, top-notch business once started as a small idea in the minds of entrepreneurs. What was that idea or motivation that made you start your business /initiative? What motivated you within to say YES, go for it!”
I think many business owners start their business because of their life situation and that was true for me. I had two young daughters and a job where I was expected to work long hours and be on call if needed. There was no work/life balance and I couldn’t see it getting better any time soon. I was miserable doing what I was doing and there was a moment when I just thought I can’t do this anymore. I was lucky, I have a wonderful husband who supported me 100% and family support too which made it possible to just give it a go!
Tell us something about your initiative or current role. What is it about, and what impact are you trying to make?
There are two sides of the business – there is Partners With You where our multi-talented professional actors work with clients from companies of all sizes in all industry sectors ranging from large corporations to individual business owners. These are people who know what they do and how they do it but don’t always deliver their message as effectively as they would like. Our clients are as diverse as tour guides and retail staff in tourist attractions to representatives of pharmaceutical companies. From newly qualified teachers to senior managers about to speak to the great and the good of their industry … and everyone in between. I’m responsible for sales and customer services at Partners With You, keeping an eagle eye on the services we provide and making sure that the courses we run deliver to the needs of our clients. I’m also a certified PRISM Brain Mapping practitioner and we use this to support a number of our workshops too. The other side of the business is Step Out From The Shadows where I work with individuals and business owners to build their communication skills so that they can be seen and heard at work. Again the client base is diverse and I hope that whatever your budget I can give you help and hope that you can step out from the shadows whatever your situation. Step Out From The Shadows is based on the book I wrote of that name and on both sides of the business our aim is to make sure that our clients look and sound more confident than they feel so that whoever the audience and wherever you are you are always the best version of yourself that you can be!
Your journey and your vision are very inspiring, but are there any achievements or accomplishments you would like to mention?
Both my daughters! And I’m still happily married – 35 years and still counting!! My original aim when I set up Partners With You was to have a better work/life balance and although it hasn’t always felt well balanced, I love what I do and I’m happy with my lot … which seems like a pretty great accomplishment from where I’m sitting!
Would you like to share with our young budding women entrepreneurs the change you would like to see in the world if given an opportunity?
Gosh this is a hard question to answer! So many things I’d like to see change – but if there was less blame and litigation and more emphasis on taking responsibility for what you can and do, I think that would be a good start.
Women are a growing force in the workplaces worldwide, standing shoulder to shoulder with their male counterparts. There are cracks in glass ceilings everywhere, with many women breaking through to carve out a space right at the top of the pyramid. What are your thoughts about women leadership today?
I wish I believed that we are standing shoulder to shoulder with our male counterparts and that the cracks in the glass ceiling was an indication that women are breaking through … but I don’t. We have moved mountains since I was a young woman (a woman couldn’t buy a house on her own when I was a child!) however we are still in the mountain range, not over the other side. And men have to have equality at home too. My husband was the primary carer of our daughters and even twenty years ago he was an anomaly – other women stared at him at the toddler groups as though he was a predator. Despite it being illegal even then, back in the 80’s I was asked at an interview if I planned to get married and have children! I was 26. Although I was never asked again, I know that my age (and potential to become a mother) was a factor when I applied for jobs. When businesses have to provide paternity leave to match maternity leave and the perceived risk of employing a man or a woman of child bearing age is equal … then we will be close to equality at work! In terms of my thoughts about women leadership today? The world is changing (albeit slowly) and hopefully in your lifetime you will see equality for men and women whatever their work choices … you are part of that change so be aware of your unconscious bias and make changes when you can, no matter how small they feel. Small changes by many, become the large changes we need.
What would you want to say to our young women leaders/audience reading this?
The voice in your head is yours to control! Most of us are ruder to ourselves than we ever would be to our friends or colleagues. Notice when this is happening and change the words you’re using … become your best friend, cheerleader and supporter. You will find it easier to take risks, whatever your role, if you are telling yourself you can rather than you shouldn’t!