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Laura Littlehales

Laura Littlehales

Laura is the CEO of MyBigCareer an Education charity.

  • Location: Nottingham, UK 

  • Title: Chief Executive Officer 

  • Organisation: MyBigCareer 

  • Sector: Educational Charity 

  • Degree: Primary Education at Nottingham Trent University

How does your usual day look like?

I start my day usually at 6am, it varies as my day usually begins with a child running in and jumping on me. If I am honest, this can happen anytime after 5am, but that feels too painful to write as a first sentence! My husband and I take it in turns to drop the kids off at school/nursery, so I am either chasing small children to try and get them dressed or going to the gym to have an early morning swim or workout.

I usually work remotely, so I work from home, it is amazing the amount of difference you can make in the world from your dining room table! My day consists of internal virtual meetings, confirming key priorities and planning next steps, virtual meetings with external partners to share successes, plan for the future and raise the important funds to work with even more young people in the future. As a CEO of a small charity the time in between can be spent doing whatever the charity needs; managing accounts, creating organisational strategy, prepping for work with young people or even working directly with young people themselves. One of the transformational programmes at MyBigCareer is 1:1 virtual career coaching, I think it is important to occasionally still be part of those conversations with young people. It gives a constant perspective of why all the work that I do is so important.

At lunch, I try to walk the dog around the field, it’s a good chance to clear my head.

After I finish work, I pick up the children, usually rush to an after-school activity (football/cricket/ballet/gymnastics/swimming depending on the night). Then a quick dinner, bath time and story time, snuggling up and reading a bedtime story with two squeaky clean children is utter bliss!

When the children are asleep, I usually send my last few emails of the day. I then either read a book or watch a box set and then hit the hay 10-10.30pm to start it all again!

What are the things you like the most about your job?

I feel very privileged to work for an organisation that can make a difference to young people’s lives. My absolute favourite parts of my day are when I hear or see first-hand the difference MyBigCareer is making. To give one example, since I started my role in January 2023, on five separate occasions young people have told me they didn’t know you could be a woman and a CEO. Widening the horizon for young people is what makes my role so fulfilling.

What are some of the skills you utilise the most in your day-to-day at work?

One of MyBigCareer’s values is Compassion First and that it is in keeping with my skill set, alongside driving projects (and the organisation) forward, prioritising, strategic thinking, and leadership.

What was one of your happiest days in your career and why?

I bumped into a university student that I worked with when they were younger. Without oversharing, they had come from a very challenging background and were now studying at Birmingham University. She said to me ‘When I started working with you, I felt like I was lost in the woods, and not only did you show me the way, you walked beside me every step to make sure I got there’. Seeing the incredible young people succeed makes all the hard work worth it!

What was the toughest career decision you ever made?

I initially trained as a teacher and that was always what I wanted to do. There was so much I loved about being in the classroom. The hardest decision for me was taking a job outside of the classroom and moving into the charity sector. Worrying I would lose the ability to make a positive impact on young people’s lives. It was the best decision I ever made.

What is something you had to learn to become better at your work?

Oh, so much. Mainly that you can’t do it all and brutal prioritisation is key. I like to ask myself does this positively impact the young people? If yes, then that can come higher up the to do list.

How did you get to become a CEO?

Initially, I trained as a teacher, then moved over to the charity sector. I worked my way up to senior management and then took the role of Chief Executive.

What's the one piece of career advice you have for anyone interested in following your footsteps?

I didn’t set out to be Chief Executive I set out to help young people achieve their own dreams. Passion for what you do is everything. Passion and hard work are a really powerful combination. So, my advice would be to find something you really care about, the rest often falls into place.

What's your number one productivity hack / when or how are you most effective?

I am a big fan of blocking time and sticking to it. Also understanding when and how you work best is important too, I know I work better first thing so block time for the more challenging tasks then, I generally have slightly lower energy after lunch so will schedule meetings in that time slot.

What makes you gracefullyBOLD?

Compassion and empathy are a strength and not a weakness and you can have both of those and be authentic, direct, and driven.

How do you spend your weekend or downtimes?

People are the most important part of my life so I spend all the time that I can with my family or with friends.

How do you deal with stress and build resilience?

I have always had high resilience, but I find pushing myself beyond my comfort zone is the most effective way to build it further. I manage stress by exercising, eating well and reminding myself what is important!

What would have been your alternative career path or alternative University degree?

No matter what, I would have worked with young people, but I could have stayed in teaching.

What's one of the last things you learnt?

The last thing I learnt was an innovative way to measure impact in the charity sector – really useful!

Who is a female professional that inspired you along your career journey?

I have been lucky enough to have had a huge array of powerful female professionals in my career. But one particularly springs to mind, a former Headteacher. She had the perfect balance of strength and kindness and taught me that direct and clear feedback is a gift and a kindness, that lesson has stayed with me through my management career. ​

What’s the one question we didn’t ask you, but you’d like to answer?

  • The question: What can we do to make sure the next generation of women become gracefullyBOLD?

  • The answer: Share what you have, fund an organisation that is making a difference, volunteer your time, say yes when someone is proactive enough to ask for help.

One word answers & quick fire round. Let's go!

  • Your superpower: Passion.

  • Favourite restaurant: Iberrico.

  • Favourite perfume: Hermes Eau Des Merveilles Eau De Parfum.

  • Book recommendation: Atlas of the Heart, Brene Brown.

  • Next holiday destination: Norfolk.

  • Your hobby: Netball.

  • Who inspires you: The young people we work with.

  • Tea or Coffee? Neither!

  • Red wine or White wine? Neither.

  • Morning bird or Night owl? Morning bird!

  • Cat person or Dog person? Dog person!

Thank you Laura for sharing your journey & wisdom with us!

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