Rebecca’s story

Rebecca Walker

Senior Leader, Pfizer UK

“I’d been in my current role for about 2 years, and had spent a long time working towards this particular step in my career. Having worked within the team for a few years, I had a clear idea of what I wanted to do and how we could completely rethink our approach, but it meant disruptive change in the short-term, and impact on colleagues.

While I had real confidence the changes being made would be hugely positive for the business and our team in the long-term, the change process was really hard on everyone, including me, and created a lot of short-term pressures. Every day in my new role I faced new challenges and situations I had little or no previous experience of, so the learning curve was steep. But more significantly, the emotional impact of restructuring and making redundancies was massive.

Having managed so much change in the first months in role The Art of Resilience workshop, which Sarah was leading in her role as one of the senior business coaches at Clarity Leadership, really resonated with me. To be honest, by the time I walked into the room I was feeling completely exhausted and close to burn out – the role was often quite isolated, the work just seemed so relentless, the deadlines endless, it was all-consuming and I just couldn’t ever seem to stop. But I can honestly pinpoint that day as a major turning point in my working life. I literally felt my shoulders relax a few inches lower than they had been only a few hours before, and I remember having a real lightbulb moment and breathing a sigh of relief at the realisation there were things in my control which could make this far more manageable and sustainable for the long-term.

One of my biggest realisations was just how much of the pressure I was feeling was actually created by me! I was the one in control, I was the one setting the bar so high, I was the one setting the deadlines. And they were unrealistic. But that also meant I was the one who could change that. It sounds obvious, but it was an incredibly powerful revelation. And at the end of the workshop I felt very emotional – so much of what Sarah had said resonated with me, but I also felt a little overwhelmed because I felt I had so much work to do to take back control. So I decided to ask Sarah if she would work with me 1-1 as a coach. That was one of the best career decisions I ever made!

Sarah has been brilliant at helping me find ways to switch off, re-charge, and renew my energy. To take care of myself physically and mentally, to let go of feelings of guilt and inadequacy, and to control my workload in a healthy way. I’m now feeling more energised and productive than I have in a long time.

In fact, I’ve since brought Sarah in to do some resilience workshops with my leadership team and the teams that make up our function, so we can all benefit from her positive interventions.

Sarah has focused on energy and optimism in our team culture, and used her positive psychology expertise to help us think about breaking out of bad neural patterns. She helped remind people that work can and should be enjoyable and rewarding – maybe not every minute of every day, but overall.

Two years into role, we have a great team dynamic and culture.  People are proud of the work they do, motivated and passionate. There is such a different energy.  I also see people taking much better care of themselves and each other. And practically, it’s even had an effect on how people run meetings and lead projects.

I’ve been so impressed by the breadth and diversity of Sarah’s skills, and also how she’s listened so carefully and responded so personally to my own challenges and to the needs of my teams. From the moment you first meet Sarah you feel instant warmth and kindness.   She is so supportive, and gently spoken, I have to admit I did wonder – can she hold her own, can she challenge people when they need it? But she’s amazing! She’s got such power and presence, and she’s hugely impressive and capable at managing both tough people and tough issues in a calm but confident way. I trust her completely and have found her support so valuable.

Before meeting Sarah I was genuinely starting to question whether my job was worth the sacrifices I was making. And it was Sarah who helped me realise that so many of those sacrifices were actually unnecessary – and of my own making. I’ve worked so hard to get achieve my career ambition, and the fact that I feel very positive, confident, and energised in the role, is really down to Sarah.”

*Rebecca Walker is a pseudonym

**This person’s name has been changed, as although they wanted to share their story they preferred to remain anonymous


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