As part of our call to encourage the region’s businesswomen to enter our Inspiring Females awards, Alix Bolton, chair of the Chamber’s Women’s Leadership Forum shares her career story.
“I went straight in to the world of work after college and my career started out in hospitality. Someone seen something in me and recommended me for their management development programme. As my role progressed I started looking after the “people stuff” and really enjoyed it. I didn’t even know HR existed (I think that’s why I’m now so passionate about careers guidance).
It was then that I made the decision to go to University and enrolled at Northumbria Uni to study a BA (hons) in Leadership & Management part time as I continued to work full time.
I was lucky enough to work for a couple of fantastic employers who gave me the flexibility to complete my degree and in 2012 I graduated with a First Class Honours as a mature student. I had the bug, I went on to study a number of postgraduate qualifications, all part-time and self-funded as I continued to work full time. It’s hard but oh so worth it.
There are so many networks and people there to support you in your journey, you don’t have to look far in the North East.
Through my work and my studies I’m now a Chartered Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD), the professional body for HR and people development.
I love telling my career story as I think it shows young people that you have a number of choices outside of the typical school-college-uni route. My advice is always, try and discover a bit about yourself first; what you enjoy, what you don’t, what you value and can commit to doing as a career. There are so many options available.
I’m Head of People Services at Northumbrian Water Group and joined the business in July 2020 at the peak of the pandemic. It’s certainly been new territory being 99% based from home but I’m looking forward to getting some kind of blend as I do miss the social connection and getting out & about.
Before NWG I worked in some fantastic sectors including tech, food FMCG, professional services and building products.
I have a keen interest in the future of work, change & transformation, responsible business, sustainability and leadership. Leadership is an important one, it’s all about people. Great leaders create great leaders and I’ve worked with some fantastic people in some brilliant teams.
Throughout the various roles I’ve had I’m thrilled that I get to play a part in the wider business community in the North East.
I’d been a member of the Women’s Leadership Forum for a few years now (previously the Women’s Advisory Board) and agreed to chair it in 2019. The WLF is made up of some brilliant people, both past and present, and I really wanted to continue on its legacy.
Since 2019, we’ve brought a number key workstreams in to focus; the Gender Pay Gap, fairness & the socio-economic divide, the future of work and business support – and are well positioned with the rest of The Chambers work too.
To be able to bring people together to work on a cause that will have such a positive impact for a wide range of businesses and individuals truly is a privilege. They say when you enjoy what you do you never work a day in your life, well I certainly feel like that.
I’m super proud of my home town, Hartlepool, and there’s just something about the grit and determination of Northern folk that’s hard to match. It’s a fantastic place to live, work and learn.
My advice to other businesswomen and the next generation of female leaders. You can do anything you set your mind to. Be rebellious, break moulds and never settle.
Take chances and grab any opportunities that come you way. I’ve been able to travel to different countries, meet lots of new people and work on some brilliant stretch assignments.
Most of all, be yourself.