Five years ago, I posted: “Somewhat unexpectedly but with no small degree of excitement, I find myself looking for new opportunities…” Having been made redundant, I needed to mend. Fortunately, many of you had faith and within a matter of days, yes days, Hardcastle & Associates was founded.
I am a great believer that good times, as well as tougher ones, come in phases - what a huge difference five years has made.
I have learned that:
two-way relationships really matter: we all know that this is the case when it comes to alumni but it’s also so true for advisors, colleagues and friends too.
authenticity is key to building those relationships: authenticity in every interaction and in building our #brand.
five pairs of shoes are not a requirement every time I travel (actually, I’ve not quite cracked this one yet…).
being brave is often what moves things forward: appreciating my Associates here and the many others who have so generously listened, advised and identified a wide variety of opportunities for us. (You know who you are :-). They support me through the wins but most importantly through the scary bits, sending me messages about ‘big girl’s knickers’ and other such inspirational (!) suggestions, to spur H&A on to what has been our busiest 12 months to date.
I don’t personally have to know all the answers instantly: but that most of the time, I know someone who can provide the expertise that our clients require.
standing out is good: oh how I wish I could tell my 13 year-old-self this! The confidence to be bold with our brand strengthens as we deeply comprehend what living our brand really is.
client trust is everything: H&A’s growth would not have been possible without our great clients, in #businessschools and across #universities, many returning regularly for insight and support with additional projects or when resources are stretched, to collaborate with us to reach creative, informed and practical solutions. Our ongoing relationships mean that increasingly they trust us with tricky or sensitive challenges, knowing we will work with them to achieve the most appropriate outcomes.
Five years on, I find myself writing this in Minneapolis, along with my seven pairs of shoes and boots (I just counted!), writing an abstract for a chapter of a book on Engagement and Impact and preparing to speak and host a plenary at the GBC Roundtable Symposium. Drawing from our #SharingtheExperience reports, with expert panellists from Gonzaga, Mays and Rutgers, we will explore sources, structures and impact of practitioner engagement for #MBA programmes.
I plan for the next five years knowing that there is a wonderful team of people around me who have my back, as I have theirs. There are many exciting collaborations to develop further and new ones to explore. And most of all, I want to ensure that we continue to have fun while we do what we do… and who knows, I might even start to ditch some of the shoes, or maybe not…