For Lara Akers, being viewed equally with her male counterparts when it comes to promotion opportunities was a key thing she learned about herself on the Empower programme.
Having had a varied and successful career in transport managing some major projects on London’s bus and tube network, Lara saw the Empower training as a chance to reinforce her skills and confidence.
Currently a Project Manager working for Amey consulting Rail based in Furnival Street, London, she says meeting others in a similar position and learning from the experiences of the course mentors made her realise she was not the only female employee feeling they needed to do more than their male colleagues to achieve promotion.
“I wanted to soak up every single information tool to ensure that I could fight for myself with confidence and not feel afraid to do so,” said Lara. “I guess I would say give me the ammunition to go in and fire with all cylinders.
“Positivity, confidence, the right to say No, the right to stand up for myself, the understanding that I do not need to work the extra 10% more than my male colleagues to prove that I deserve a promotion, or I deserve to be respected amongst my male counterparts externally and internally were the main things I learned from the course.”
Lara, who loves rowing and weight-training as well as designing her cottage and travelling around the country in her spare time, believes Empower can help many women in a similar position to her. It has given her access to a new network of contacts and friends who as an alumni can support each other.
“Empower has helped, or should I say pushed me to believe in myself more that no matter my age I can move on to other roles,” she said. “It has given me the confidence to seek new avenues outside of my current employment and the steps to show that I deserve to push for my promotion.
“I would say to anyone doing the training to go in with an open mind and be honest with who you are speaking to, your highs and lows. Think about what you want or hope to achieve by going on the programme and listen to others because you may hear someone who has the same feelings you have – you realise you are not the only one.”