In her shoes – an inside look at the Women’s Leadership Programme

We designed our Women’s Leadership Programme for women who want to boost their confidence at work, develop leadership skills and build a new a network of career-focused females. It also gives organisations tools to help female talent achieve their potential. And in this post we want to show you what it’s like on the inside. So we’ve been chatting to Carolyn Isom, Chief Financial Officer at Titon. She took part in the programme in 2021.

Carolyn was already very familiar with our organisation, especially as it was us who helped her find her current job at Titon, a company that manufactures and sells ventilation and window products. She follows us on LinkedIn, and had seen posts on there about the Women’s Leadership Programme which had piqued her interest. Titon’s Chairman had also heard about it from one of our directors, and told Carolyn he thought she’d be a perfect candidate.

High expectations

With her ambition to be the first ever female member of Titon’s board, the suggestion couldn’t have come at a better time. ‘I realised that it was mostly men I was working with at a senior level,’ says Carolyn. ‘So I was looking for a way to increase my network of female professionals, while also improving my leadership skills.’ She was keen to connect with people who’d faced similar challenges to help her establish what she wanted from her future career, and how she was going to get there.

Carolyn did her research before signing up to make sure the programme would give her what she wanted. So she checked what kind of roles the other women on the programme had. ‘I was really impressed with the range of people who were going to be there,’ she says. ‘There were women working in finance, IT, HR, marketing, law… the list goes on.’

Breaking the glass ceiling

Determined to get that position on the board, Carolyn wanted to know how she could influence decisions about her future at the company and what, if anything, she needed to do differently. The programme gave her the courage to have potentially difficult conversations about that, while also reassuring her she was on the right path. ‘It gave me confidence that I was doing the right things and with the right behaviours,’ she says. And it worked too – Carolyn was promoted to the board a few months after the programme ended.

Set for the future

It wasn’t just about getting a promotion for Carolyn though. ‘The programme’s given me skills I use every day when managing and leading within my company,’ she tells us. ‘A good example of this is the introduction to coaching. When people discuss problems with me, I automatically try to find a solution. But the course taught me how to coach them to find the answer themselves. I’ve used this a few times since, and it’s really helped both me and others. I also have lots of other tools in the bank that I can refer to and use when needed – like strategic thinking and change management, for example.’

Carolyn also achieved her goal of building a more diverse, female-centric network. ‘The women I met on the programme are fantastic,’ she says. ‘And while we don’t all talk all the time, I know they’re there if I want to run an idea past someone or get some advice.’

As a woman in a senior position who also has a family, Carolyn had sometimes struggled to reconcile the two. This was even more difficult due to her having very few senior female leaders as role models. That all changed after the programme though: ‘It was so nice to find that a lot of my challenges and concerns weren’t unique to me. Having that reassurance and support was great.’

Words of encouragement

Carolyn would encourage women looking to move into more senior positions – or those who are already there but want to progress further – to join the Women’s Leadership Programme. ‘What are you waiting for?’ she says. ‘If nothing else you’ll get to meet a group of likeminded women, which is worth it in itself.’

She also recognises the role that the women who run the course had in increasing her confidence, and encouraging her to take more control of where she was heading. ‘They truly inspired us and took us on an amazing journey.’

Feeling motivated?

If you, or someone you know, might benefit from the Women’s Leadership Programme, we’d love to hear from you. Head to the website to find out more.


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Written by

Caroline Batchelor

A graduate of Manchester University, Caroline started her recruitment career in 1999. She’s been with Pure since we began in 2002. As a Director, Caroline’s responsible for mid-to-senior level HR recruitment across Cambridgeshire. She’s also a qualified coach and co-facilitator of our Women’s Leadership Programme.

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