Angie's story

Director of Mental Health

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I joined Look Ahead eight years ago, and at that time I had over twelve years’ experience in operations and business development roles at another housing association and 17 years management experience. My first role at Look Ahead was as a Contract Manager, overseeing mental health and homelessness services in Redbridge. I then moved to Tower Hamlets to implement and deliver Look Ahead’s first forensic mental health service.

The forensic mental health service is still running today, and I am proud to have been a part of the first team who helped to turn it into the success that it is.  If you work in forensics long enough, it changes you; you build high resilience and learn to hide your fear irrespective of how you feel. What I found most interesting, yet unsettling was working with individuals who had committed serious violent offences and were on the psychopathic spectrum – this was very difficult territory.

During intervals in my career, I have often stopped and asked myself ‘what is your why’? Why I am doing this job, why am I going for this promotion, why do I work in this field and for this particular organisation. The reason I do this, is because I want to be sure that I’m making decisions that are right for me and then I know I am going to give 110%.

After working in Tower Hamlets, I was promoted to Head of Operations in mental health, where I was overseeing many services across multiple London boroughs. I had 13 managers reporting into me, and I fully embraced this new challenge. As a Head of Operations, your role relates to the entire business, rather than just being focussed on one service or area. You must be solution orientated and an excellent problem solver and communicator. Thankfully, my previous experiences helped me adapt to the pressure and I really enjoyed the role.

“I think Look Ahead has always been an organisation that gives its workforce opportunities. If you are a member of staff who demonstrates ambition and ability, Look Ahead will actively support your development”

Whilst working as a Head of Operations, I thought about applying for Look Ahead’s Women in Leadership Award. My Director at the time was hugely supportive of me applying, I might not have even got the application submitted without his encouragement.  After applying, I had two interviews with members of the Senior Leadership Team and was one of the successful recipients. I was blown away to receive this award, and the development funding that comes with it. It was a real turning point in my career.

I think Look Ahead has always been an organisation that gives its workforce opportunities. If you are a member of staff who demonstrates ambition and ability, Look Ahead will actively support your development. I used the Women in Leadership to fund my Masters in Business Administration.   I have always been a firm believer in taking ownership of my own development, what keeps me motivated is not where I am today but the prospect of where I am going – so keep moving forward.

Completing my MBA coincided with being promoted to Deputy Director of operations in mental health, and I have recently been promoted further to Director of Mental Health. I am looking forward to bringing my leadership experience and skills to this role, to help continue to grow and build our mental health services and bring positive, lasting change to the organisation.

When my role as Director of Mental Health was announced, I was inundated with messages of congratulations from across the business. Not just from management or senior leadership, but from support workers, team leaders and contract managers. This just shows the level of unity and goodwill across the organisation. I should also highlight the organisation’s commitment to diversity and inclusion; we are seeing more people from all different backgrounds and ethnicities progress up the ladder into middle/senior leadership roles and I think that is so important as there is talent to be found everywhere.

Remember what I said earlier about ‘keep moving forward’, well I am undertaking a qualification in Transformational Leadership which I aim to imbed into my current practice as a senior leader and I look forward to mentoring some of you who are set to become Look Ahead’s future leaders.

I wish for everyone to step into their purpose, why wait for permission – seek the development you need, invest in yourself, have a well thought out plan then go for it!

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