Light bulb moment: Amanda Batten of Contact a Family

The chief executive of the charity that provides support to the families of disabled children on being the 'boss lady'

Amanda Batten
Amanda Batten

When I told my 89-year-old grandma about my new job as chief executive of Contact a Family, she blurted out proudly: "But how can you be the boss lady? You are far too small."

The reality is that you don't have to be an octogenarian to think that chief executives come cut from a certain cloth. Third Sector's research found that only 30 per cent of the UK's top 50 charities have female chief executives, and deep down I still saw the role as the preserve of late middle-aged white men with backgrounds in finance and public speaking skills.

I'm hardly ground-breaking, but I was 36, I'm female, an introvert and a campaigner by trade. The truth is that I didn't always see myself ending up in this sort of role - but now I'm here I love it. The light bulb moment that made me take the step was actually lit by colleagues in the sector, who helped me to rethink the chief executive role in a way that works for me.

Since then I've battled with how fast to pace change, my unreasonable expectations of myself and my nightmare diary. But the learning has come with a flurry of light bulbs. I've discovered the importance of a great chair and the true value of friends and mentors within the sector. Ultimately, I've learnt that feedback from others is critical to reappraising and developing the value we can all add to the causes we believe in.


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