An Interview with Sue McGrath
Tell us about the work that you do and what led you onto this career path
I am a Trustee and Charity Secretary of a multi award winning national family charity based in Hertfordshire which was founded in 2003. We are a charity that delivers transformational experiences called Muscle Dreams to children and young adults between the ages of 8 and 28 with the often life limiting condition called Muscular Dystrophy (MD). I am also a Director of my husband’s speaking and consultancy business and a full-time carer to my husband who has Muscular Dystrophy and a mother.
I am passionate about all aspects of the work that I do. From the charity work in helping to change lives through giving love, hope, joy and laughter to families across the country to the world of conferences and working with all sectors on issues like uplifting resilience, leadership and change.
My role is multi-faceted within the charity as I wear both operational and trustee hats and am very privileged to witness impact along with being involved in the strategic planning and governance aspects of the charity. As well as a safeguarding caring role and conference planning for keynote speaker events.
Previous to my current roles I worked for a global telecoms company in HR and L&D focussing on collaboration within business groups and problem solving. Bringing my previous business and personal life skills has without doubt enabled me to contribute to the multi-faceted ‘hats’ I wear now.
Tell us about a project or accomplishment that you consider to be the most significant in your career
That is a difficult question to answer as I have been lucky to be involved in some incredible projects in my career. From utilising my personality, tenacity and transferable skills as a novice PR specialist in securing a Sky TV crew along with mainstream media to cover my husband who lead expeditions to the North and South Poles at LHR. As a charity we are innovative in the work that we do to meet the needs of our beneficiary community. We are doing this right now with covid 19 and pivoting the charity to meet our beneficiary community who are isolated and terrified. One other project I am proud to be involved in is with a colleague to design and deliver a pilot in a supported voluntary work programme for severely disabled young people partnering with companies like GSK and Airbus. Another project was with a past employer initiating strategic relationships/technical liaison between the company I was working for and then newly acquired network company to achieve successful integration. Encouraging communication and openness to share skills and information.
What advice would you give someone starting in your field of work?
My advice is to always be curious, open minded and flexible in your thinking. There are many ways to get to a solution even when it seems impossible. I love to solve a problem and find a solution. Attributes like persistence and resilience are key some of which have rubbed off on me from my incredible husband. To be open to learn new things whatever your age. Be inquisitive.
What do you think in the most significant barrier to women in business and leadership?
Being heard and respected as a woman, this is often a block for me as often we are pigeonholed i.e. people like to see me as a carer first. I was some time ago given a fridge magnet by the lead of Intellectual Property across Europe whom I supported many years ago that resonates with me until this day: “Whatever women do they must do twice as well as men to be thought half as good. Luckily this is not difficult”.
Who is your female role model, and why?
Michelle Obama is a fabulous global role model for me. From a humble background and as a BAME woman she has overcome many obstacles in her personal life and her career. Michelle has been able to retain her own identity whilst being the wife and First Lady of the president of the USA. As a role model to many young people across the world promoting the importance of education, equality, hope, possibility and building confidence. She also demonstrates the importance of humility, determination and independence.
What is the most important lesson life has taught you?
Not to make presumptions and not to judge others. Everyone has a story and each of us have our own personal journey and experience. Allowing each other to have a voice, respect and listen to each other, we are all unique and its what we do with our voices that matters.
What do you do for self-care?
I love yoga, reading, connecting with nature through walking and have a particular interest in the impact of food on health and wellbeing.
Why did you decide to join the Rising Network as a member and how you feel the network will support you/your organisation?
I decided to join the Rising Festival after attending the excellent International Women’s event in Cambridge in 2019. It was wonderful to be amongst likeminded women driven and passionate about what they do. I hope to make new contacts and learn from the many opportunities that the Rising Network offers. Networks are not all about ‘take’ but give too, collaborative expansive working.
Sue’s favourite quote:
I have read this quote recently which makes you think about pausing before reacting to any situation:
“Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom”.
Author: Viktor Frankl an Austrian neurologist, psychologist and holocaust survivor.
To find out more about Sue’s organisations, see below: