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Spring Forward – Review Information Evening, Stuttgart, 13.7.2010

Author: Michelle Hunter

Tuesday 13 July, a small, elite group of women met to find out more about the Spring Forward career development programme from the UK. Despite the heat, we all gathered over a glass of nearly cold rosé wine and enjoyed the ambience in the welcoming rooms of coworking0711.  At the agreed time, we hooked up via skype with Sue Hewitt in her office in Cumbria while we in Stuttgart sat around the computer.

Sue briefly explained the set up of the programme:

2 workshops over 3 months. The first workshop of 2 days with the follow up workshop usually of 1 ½ days. We asked what were some of the issues raised in previous programmes. Significantly, individuals face barriers to their progression at work, such as:

  • Difficulties with talking to the boss
  • Being ignored in meetings
  • Having one’s contributions overlooked
  • Not getting recognition for positive or important things achieved at work

Sue also explained that Spring Forward can benefit you if you are self employed, a solo-preneur or running a small business. It allows you to spend some time focusing on what you want out of life, thinking about achieving a healthy life-work balance. You can also creatively imagine how your business or work may develop over time and work on developing the right personal brand for success. The type of issues that self employed women bring the programme include:

  • Being taken seriously by clients, banks, backers and the competition
  • Lack of self belief and belief in their business goals
  • Managing time effectively so that life is not all work
  • A need to get help through coaching and mentoring

Sometimes, issues raised revolve around other questions, such as:

  • Do I want to be a manager, leader or business owner?
  • Where do I want to be in 5 years time?
  • What other creative ways are there for me to further my self-development?

Sue explained how the programme works on a practical level. There is a lot of small group and / or pair work. Intense, active listening is applied, resulting in objective, constructive feedback. The advantage of having direct feedback from neutral, objective parties is that new ideas, perspectives and alternatives are offered. Also you are all on the programme journey together so it is easier to empathise with each others issues.

Sue Hewitt: “I did an intensive SF when I was a freelance trainer before I was licensed. I found it really useful to take some time out from the business to focus on me, because as a solo-preneur the most important resource you have is yourself so you need to look after you.  I also found it really useful to have some time out of the business to reflect on the business. One of the problems for small businesses, freelancers included, is that we spend all of our time working IN the business (doing the doing, such as delivery, marketing etc) but we do not spend enough time working ON the business – so long term planning, where do we want to be in 2years, what things do we really enjoy, how could we do things better, faster, cheaper. So Spring Forward can be incredibly useful for self-employed people, more so than any course on how to run your own business because they don’t focus on developing you.  Spring Forward is not a business strategy course but it is a personal development course.  If you are your business then personal development is critical to the development of the business.”

In summary, Spring Forward is ideal for women working in companies, working as freelancers, setting up and / or running their own business. Basically, anyone with the desire to develop themselves so as to maximise their own potential.

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