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Q & A with Sally Smith, Swansea Garages

Written by A.R.Fairbank@swansea.ac.uk / Friday 16th November 2018

We are currently running a number of 'Women in Leadership' events across South Wales where our guests will be inspired by a number of hugely successful female business leaders. We have asked our speakers a few questions about themselves, their inspirations and their leadership journey. First up is Sally Smith of Swansea Garages, a current delegate on our Leading Growth programme in Port Talbot.

Tell us a bit about yourself

I like to mountain bike and swim in the sea. I have two small children and run a garage storage business that I have quadrupled over the last 8 years.

SallySmithpresentation.JPGWhat advice would you give to women who want to succeed in business?

Learning, reading, exercise and cold showers. I have books in hard copy, in Kindle, and on Audible all the time so I can listen when I drive, read on my phone when I have an unexpected 5 minutes or tuck into a hardcopy when I have more time. It gives you power, because nobody can take your knowledge from you. I also always get in the shower before I turn it on and stay under it for the cold period. It’s my way of proving to myself that I am in charge of myself, it makes other acts of self-discipline easier. Plus, it’s really energising, and good for your brain.

How do you achieve work-life balance?

I got a lot better at this and far more efficient when I had children. I can be slightly obsessive about work, but since having children I have worked really hard to create systems and work more efficiently. I now often finish at 3 to pick my children up but then sometimes that means I work 8-10. It’s difficult when you start a business because you have to do everything yourself to understand it and build the most efficient systems. Working from home and being the main phone number means that work is always there, but we make a point of going away every school holiday, even if only for a few days. It makes me a better mother, and a better business owner, all my best ideas and developments have come after a few days away.

Did anyone or any particular organisation help you out along the way?

I used Business Wales a lot at the beginning, which is a fantastic resource. They provided 1:1 support and some excellent courses. I started the Chwarae Teg level 2 course in January 2018. This led me to the ION course, which made a major difference to my business before I even started through some of the reading I was directed to.

What have you learned about leadership?

I have learnt about both addressing needs and motivating people. About different leadership styles and when and how to use them. I have started to develop my coaching skills, and I have improved my communication skills. I have tweaked the culture of the business. I use aspects from the ION course on a daily basis.

In your opinion, what is the key to success?

To take 100% responsibility for yourself, your actions and your results.

What are the 3 words you would use to describe yourself?

Resourceful, Hardworking, Optimistic.

Who inspires you?

J K Rowling, Sheryl Sandberg, Gina Miller, Serena Williams, Sophie Walker, Lucy Kellaway and Cerys Matthews.

We have upcoming 'Women in Leadership' events in both Bridgend and Cardiff. To find out more about our joint programme with Chwarae Teg, click here

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