In 2013 I had a successful 15-year leadership career, yet I was burned out, exhausted, and missing out on life with family. Determined to enjoy the success that I had earned, I've created a life of balance and boundaries that is also highly successful.
"What I came to realise after my Burnout is that the way we are working isn't working. How we are taught to define success is outdated, and yet it doesn't have to be this way. When we live and lead from our core, we can enjoy being successful on our terms and in our own way."
Today, I help leaders all over the world to succeed without giving up their career or jeopardising their wellbeing because I learned that leading from the core is the key to our success.
What got me to where I am today?
The oldest of three siblings, my parents will say I came out of the womb bossy, stubborn and strong-willed, this is my determination and willingness to succeed as well as my inner BS-o-meter..
I was moved up a year at school, missing my final year of primary school. I was the 'A' grade student, the natural leader and the rebel and this continued as I started my management career in the late 90's.
I'd always wanted to go into law, but after two work experience placements in different legal firms and having seen people from my community be found not guilty for crimes that I knew they had committed amongst the piles of papers, files, overflowing ashtrays and stacked bottles of whisky on office floors and on top of cabinets, the lack of truth amidst the chaos and clutter made me rethink my career.
My teachers were all pushing me toward university but I couldn't see what I'd study or why I'd accrue all of that debt if I didn't true know what to do. I spoke to my bosses from my part-time roles, began to research other careers and consider what I enjoyed and I started a management trainee programme with Waitrose immediately after my 'A' Levels.. I received promotions and pay rises quickly and completed my two-year training programme in 18 months. It was during my time on the shopfloor that I discovered my love for creating great places to work and so began my career in HR, OD and Training.
Aged just 20 I gave birth to my twin sons, I was back at work quickly and progressing my career again. I saw things differently, spoke my mind, led from my intuition and remained committed to creating great places to work even whilst surrounded by some toxic leadership and in some toxic teams.
During the last 8 years of my corporate career I received 7 promotions and added more than £100,000 to my salary. I was often the only woman in my peer group, was always the youngest and was often the only one with young kids. I was also the intuitive one, the one wanting to know why something had happened, or why we were thinking of doing something, the most curious and often the most colourful in the room - with my clothes and my f bombs.
Whilst working in a different sector outside of retail and managing large and diverse teams, on paper I had it all. The kids, the husband, the dog, the house, the sports car and the family 4x4, the all-inclusive holidays, the designed clothes, the bling, I was slim, sociable (not too much for my introverted self), I was studying, growing and learning.
Inside though, it was a different story.
In 2012 and into 2013 I began to lose my intuition as I fought against the toxicity of the workplace and deal with the backstabbing, bitching, and bullying from many of the Exec team. I worked harder, pushed harder and wanted to prove that I was worthy of my role, as well as being on a one-woman crusade to change the world of work all on my own - my inner warrior (Kelly means 'warrior' and Swingler means 'warrior-gardener')
The signs of burnout were all there, and yet I ignored them all, until my body finally decided that enough was enough and left me in crippling pain, causing dizziness, anxiety, fainting, and several hospital admissions over a seven month period. I ended up having two operations in 48 hours and in my recovery two things happened.
My sons told me that my job was killing me. I cannot tell you how heartbreaking and gut-wrenching it is when your 12-year-old sons give you a slap in the face like that and you've refused to see it yourself.
I realised that deep-dive self-discovery and getting back to my core was the only way out of this burnout.
My core led me to quit my corporate career, leave my marriage, move house and start my life, in a much more aligned way.
But, I hadn't allowed myself the proper time to heal. I'd gone into full fix-it mode, and with more learning, more discovery, more research, more qualifications and more study, in 2015 I reached burnout again. Not ideal when you're focused on helping clients to prevent burnout.
But it gave me the lesson I needed. Preventing burnout, eliminating guilt and living a core-led and balanced life is not about doing a ton of stuff, or having a long list of self-care items to do each day. It's about three things:
Getting clear on who you are at the core (self-discovery)
Setting boundaries (self-honouring)
Taking time for yourself (self-nurturing)
And this is my foundation for how I work with clients on a one-to-one and group basis, it's the focus of my talks, my books and my courses and it's from here that I believe we transform ourselves and change the world of work.
I live in Cambridgeshire with my partner, sons, step-sons and rescue dog. I love reading, I'm a life-long learner and I teach yoga and meditation once a week at the studio where I trained. I'm a neuroscience geek, and whilst I fail a lot, I'm keen on growing my own plants and foods in our allotment. I walk a lot, love to cycle and attend spin classes and get a lot of energy from lifting weights. My chill-time is my yoga time. I love true-life films, listen to podcasts most days, I'm a huge fan of Brené Brown, Glennon Doyle and Mary Portas, and have a huge variety of music that I listen to depending on my mood and energy - as I write this I'm listening to Ludovico Einaudi - bet you didn't see that coming.
I'm an introvert who loves speaking on stages to thousands of people and I love to dance, although these days it's mostly around the house.
I'm curious, passionate, straight-talking, and value honesty, fairness, and integrity (doing the right thing even when nobody else is looking).
Writing gives me my most moments of recharge and rest, I can lose myself for hours in my latest blog or in my blogs or articles.
Helping people to get back to their core is what gets me out of bed in the morning and keeps me driven and motivated in my work as I believe it's from the core of us all that we can really change the world of work.
Clients and Employers
I've worked with employers such as Waitrose, John Lewis, Luminus Group and Genesis Housing.
Clients have included Thomas Cook, NEWS UK, LUSH, Tesco, Walsingham Support, BUNZL, M&S, Affinity Water, Reigate and Banstead Borough Borough Council, NHS, LifePlus, Visa, Natwest and Barclays.
I've managed teams of 60 people, managed projects and budgets of hundreds of millions of pounds led projects and teams, and worked with Exec Teams and Leadership Teams as a coach, advisor, and consultant. I removed annual performance reviews in 2008 and haven't done one, designed one, or completed one since, I've burned many a handbook and I implemented four day working in January 2019 for my first consultancy The Chrysalis Crew (now on a different path under the leadership of my wonderful partner Michael Fearnhead, but still four days a week)
I've been an Executive Coach since 2011 and worked with individuals, teams, and groups as their coach. I don't pretend to be the cheapest, and I don't pretend to be the best, I'm me and I'm awesome at helping clients get further than they ever thought possible.
I completed my BSc in Psychology in 2007 and my MCIPD in 2008. I've completed certificates and diplomas in Neuroscience, Psychotherapy, Hypnotherapy, Firewalking, Facilitation, Training Design, Yoga Teaching, Meditation, Breathwork and numerous psychotherapy tests. In 2011 I qualified as an Executive Coach and went on to complete my MSc in Organisational Change and Design in 2017. Whilst started I am yet to complete my Thesis for my PhD where my research focuses on the courage of leaders during times of change.
I'm always learning or reading something new, but I feel that it's my skills and experience that helps me to help my clients the most.
If I sound like the type of core-led woman you'd love to work with or the type of speaker you'd love at your event, get in touch, I'd love to talk.