The Mumbelievables: Sophie Segal
It’s a real pleasure to interview Sophie Segal for the Mumbelievables series. Sophie and I got to know each other when she invited me to contribute to her upcoming Mindset Shift Summit at the end of January, a virtual event with an incredible line up of speakers to inspire and provide practical tools to help mums regain confidence and find flexible, fulfilling work. What Sophie is doing to support working mums is inspirational, strong and sisterly so go get your free ticket now! Find out more and sign up for free here: http://bit.ly/2DkWkFO
In 2017 Sophie co-founded WhooshPop science classes to encourage children to explore their natural curiosity and inspire families to discover science together in a fun and innovative way. She also helps fast-growing companies to develop a sustainable commercial strategy and curates Mum.Career.Life., a supportive community for working mums that gives members a platform to explore and discuss the juggle, flexible working options and making positive changes.
There’s some serious inspiration in this interview. I LOVE Sophie’s thoughts on confidence and our identity before and after we have children, particularly her idea that becoming a mum gives us the chance to understand who we really are and what really matters to us. Enjoy!
Who are you? What’s your story?
I’m a practical dreamer and I think my favourite quote illustrates this quite well. “The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams”. I tend to see the best in people and love socialising. I believe we all have some beautiful natural talents – our “sens de vie” as we say in French – things we do without even realising that make us unique. We just need to allow ourselves to let those talents shine and use them in our lives, whatever they are and whatever social norms say.
Inspiring others to truly be who they are deep down is what makes me feel alive. I’m a wife, mum and an entrepreneur. I enjoy life.
I am French. I studied in France and in the UK, lived and worked in Spain and in the UK and love travelling the world, meeting amazing people, discovering new cultures and new ways of doing things. I’m curious and love being surrounded by happy people, people who inspire me and people who I can inspire in return. Definitely a glass half full person!
I’ve spent the last 10 years working for a global organisation in the UK (I never worked in France in reality!). I started in a call centre in Barcelona as an agent taking reservations, moved to the HQ in the UK, working in a variety of roles across the commercial function – from sales, partnership, brand & online marketing, commercial lead for the franchise markets across the world, led strategic projects for the board and headed the international loyalty programme. I loved what I was doing and the impact I could have on the international teams and customers.
In 2012, I felt pregnant for the first time and loved it. I felt totally alive. I was ‘smashing it’ at work, enjoyed feeling those little movements in my tummy; I just couldn’t wait to meet my little one. I so enjoyed my year ‘off’ on maternity leave and my return to work was hard but fairly smooth the first time around. I managed to get a new job within the company I worked for, a new position, got promoted and felt pregnant pretty quickly again. The second pregnancy was as magical but my mindset at work was very different. I wanted something different but also knew that flexibility was key so I stuck with a job I wasn’t enjoying that much in the end. There was nothing wrong with it; it was just time for a change for me.
I now have two daughters, aged 5 and 3 and I love being a mummy, even though I felt very lost for a few years… trying to work out who I wanted to be at work and how I could manage to still pursue my career and spend the time I wanted to with the girls.
In January 2017, I co-founded some science classes for little ones (whooshPop.com) as Hannah (my co-founder) and I had experienced first-hand with our children how curious and inquisitive they were and we wanted to nurture that and pass that love of science to kids from an early age.
Now, my latest project is an online event for mums looking to regain confidence in themselves and use it to find flexible work they love – The Mindset Shift Summit. It’s a 4-day event starting on 30th January, all done online to make sure our busy mummy schedules don’t stop us joining the amazing 30+ experts inspiring us. I am SO excited about it. I’ve already met so many amazing people through organising it and can’t wait to meet, inspire and help all the mums that will join this event to kick-start their journey.
If someone else was to sum you up in five words, what do you think those words would be?
Smiling, inspiring person who loves change (that’s 6 words!!! Oops!)
How do you feel about yourself now compared to before you became a mum?
That’s a very interesting question. I’m amazed at what we are able to do as human beings. We can create life and give birth to these amazing little ones. I feel happier in the sense that I always wanted to have kids and I love the innocence that kids have. They are curious, keen to discover the world, determined, smiling… I wouldn’t change anything in the world. On another hand, I feel very confused with who I am. I felt like I was two people for so long. The mummy at home and the professional me, who I used to love so much. I couldn’t get the two to be in harmony.
Writing that makes me smile and realise something… I was already two people before having kids. My husband used to laugh that there was the ‘Sophie at work’, super organised, structured, driven, making decisions super quickly and the ‘Sophie at home’, totally laid back, who hates planning and organising things, loves spontaneity and going with the flow.
Which makes me wonder why I felt so unsettled and unsure of myself post-kids?! One to reflect on for sure.
In short, after an uncomfortable and unsettling time trying to redefine who I was, I have now realised I am the same person, just with slightly different interests and purpose in life and that makes me happier as a starting point.
If you could go back in time, what advice would you give your younger self?
Go with the flow. There is no right or wrong path, just a direction you take at some point. There is not a ‘you’ before and after kids, the ‘you’ deep down inside you is the same and pregnancy only gives you a chance to really understand who you are – a great trigger point where you can do what you want, not what others are expecting from you.
I would also not stop myself looking for another job because I was starting to think about having kids and I would change job if I wasn’t happy anymore. The only barriers are my mental ones… everything can be done if you put your mind to it.
Don’t be afraid to tell your story, even if it’s different. It’s yours and that’s what makes you unique and beautiful.
What does confidence mean to you?
Confidence is a very abstract concept. It’s something that can come and go in a second. Which somehow is wonderful as once you understand what drives you, and what makes it leave, you can influence it quickly and become more confident again. It’s that intangible thing which makes the difference between feeling scared and feeling powerful. Confidence is a muscle – the more you use it, the stronger it gets.
What advice would you give to someone who doubts herself?
Don’t think too much (easier said than done I know!!!), get inspired, make a plan and take actions. The little wins you will get from that will make you feel so much more worth it and rebuild that confidence without you even realising it.
Be curious. Confidence is a very personal thing and what will resonate with you might be very different to what resonates with me or someone else. After all, it all comes from your life and what’s in it, is simply yours!
What’s the most important lesson you’ve learned in your life so far?
That change is the only constant. Physically, we constantly change as we go through life. We live in a world where technology makes things go even faster, we travel, we discover new things. Change is good and can be a beautiful thing if we look at it with the right lens and the right mindset. With hindsight, I would say the biggest changes in my life are the ones that led to the biggest opportunities and great fun – and change doesn’t have to be bad.
And finally, where is your happy place?
Home – not just in the UK but in France. More specifically, my grandparents’ house. I grew up there. It’s where we all meet up now that we live in different places. I feel safe and relaxed there. It’s a beautiful place in the south of France.
I also have my own little escape place, which has changed depending on where I live. One constant is that it is always near water. At the seafront, looking at the sea whatever the season and now by a little lake near where I live. I love going there. The water is always beautiful and relaxing and it helps me to “pause”, recharge my batteries or empty the negative thoughts in my head and leave them there.
You can find out more about the incredible Mindset Shift Summit and sign up for your free ticket here: http://bit.ly/2DkWkFO