915. Scaling Up to the Next Level
“There was quite a big push at that point, particularly for women, to study math and sciences. So I knew that there would be some good job opportunities coming out of university if I stuck with math. In my last year, I did a master’s in math, and there was a project where you work with a business in the area. I got an opportunity there to get a sense of what sort of jobs I could get. As soon as I started reaching out to recruitment agents and newspaper ads for jobs, I picked a couple of different options that were looking for the type of degree that I’d gotten. I went for interviews with two companies, got accepted into both, and had a tough decision to work out which one to go with. In the end, I decided to go for the job at Coca-Cola.”
Sharon Cully is the owner and founder of Simply Processes where she helps entrepreneurs find the time they need to grow their business, make more money and create more freedom. With over 15 years of experience working with leading global brands like Coca Cola, Diageo and GlaxoSmithKline, she has successfully helped companies around the world increase performance and minimize costs, while meeting customer objectives. She founded Simply Processes as a way to utilize her experience, to help entrepreneurs who have been successful, but have reached a plateau, scale up to the next level by gaining control of their business processes.
The Most Impactful Turning Point?
“I met my partner at a wedding in Cape Town in South Africa. I was living in London at that point, but he lived in Cape Town. After a while, when we discovered that we wanted to spend more time together, I needed to work out a way I could spend more time in Cape Town. He wasn’t as mobile and that meant that I needed to get a bit creative with my career. I was working with a coach who had helped me with many things and she suggested I set myself up as a coach consultant, working with small businesses to help them put processes in place, help them work through their business frustrations, and move them in the direction that they want to grow their business. It was a great fit for the experience that I had and working with smaller businesses meant that I could work virtually with them. It was a great opportunity to be able to work anywhere in the world, have that flexibility that I needed, and still work with businesses who need that kind of help.”
The Most Powerful Lessons and Experiences?
1.Be prepared to be wrong. “Then I moved into a sales forecasting role at Coca-Cola. It was a promotion into a different part of the supply chain, in this case, working out how much we were likely to sell for the next year so that the production sites could plan accordingly. That was quite a change. It was between an art and a science doing sales forecasting. You need to pull a lot of different sources to work out the best approach and also, get used to being wrong!”
2. Improve presentation skills if it is important to your job. “I always found doing presentations a challenge. And although it was not something that I enjoy doing, it was important to my role. I kept working at it to get the practice. What got me through it was preparation. What helped me was:
• Preparing a running list of key points to work from.
• Making sure I had point people in the room to provide support if necessary; prepping them to help get things moving if I was not getting enough interaction with the room.
• Find opportunities to practice, if not through doing business presentations, through other opportunities to practice speaking. I became a volunteer one day a week as tour guide at the science museum in London. That really helped me to get more practice speaking in front of people.”
3. Skills you learn on the job are often more transferrable than you think. “I knew I had a pretty good CV, but because I hadn’t been for an interview for 11 years, it was quite nerve wracking. I think it’s safe to say that once you’ve been in a job or a business for a long time, it just becomes that much harder to imagine yourself being able to work somewhere else and having the skills that are needed. But it turned out that my skills were needed when I looked for a new job after taking months off to travel.”
4. Contract work can have some advantages over being employed full-time. “I took a contract role for four months that gave me the opportunity to take a position like I had before to work on processes, where I was conduit between departments to try and get everyone working toward one forecast. I loved that job. And because it was a contract role, it meant that I had the freedom to be disconnected from all the corporate politics that can happen. And I really noticed how much that was a relief to not have to deal with. It’s funny, I hadn’t really noticed it necessarily before, but it was a big eye opener for me. I continued to take contract work for a few years before starting my own business.”
Connecting With Sharon Cully
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