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Interview with Amelia Guilfoyle

Sarah Ingwersen International Women's Day, Career Advice

Accepting that you don't have all of the answers all of the time and being able to say this without feeling your position will be undermined.


We interviewed Amelia Guilfoyle, Head of Legal, ZPG, as part of International Women's Day 2019. We wanted to understand the role confidence has played in her career.
 
How do you define confidence, particularly in the workplace?

  • Knowing the important value you bring to the room/the business and not questioning it.
  • Feeling able to express your views and provide input in a way that is beneficial to the business.
  • Recognising when you need to push your viewpoint and having the courage of your convictions/ability and experience to know when to do so.
  • Accepting that you don't have all of the answers all of the time and being able to say this without feeling your position will be undermined.

How do you think the confidence gap affects women?

It is hard to quantify this without relying on anecdotal experience, however, I assume that a general lack of confidence has contributed, in part to the gender pay gap. 

Have you ever experienced imposter syndrome (where you doubt your achievements and have an internalised fear of being exposed as a “fraud”)? If so, how did you overcome it?
 
All the time but I honestly think that all people do regardless of gender and perhaps this is particularly prevalent in the legal profession. The key to this is probably in the second part of your question and that is how you handle the feeling. It's one of those that you just learn to handle as you get more experienced - mainly ignoring it or if you can doing something to address your perceived lack of achievements. Experience also helps. The longer you work the more you realise that feeling like an imposter is a side effect of developing your career and moving out of your comfort zone. 
 
What can be done to ensure a woman being assertive in the workplace doesn’t negatively impact on colleagues’ perceptions of her?
 
I think that there has been a shift in attitude (at least over my working life) away from perceiving an assertive woman as a negative trait - clearly more can be done to address this inherent bias that does still crop up. However, in my view there is also some work to be done on accepting that sometimes the loudest and most assertive voice in the room is not necessarily the most confident - there are occasions where recognising and having the confidence in the value you bring to the business you work for can mean you also have the courage of your convictions remain quiet.