With over twenty years of senior management experience, Nicky Waite has a lot to be confident about. She shares where her confidence comes from, and how we can boost our own.
Fun fact: the fear of change is called Metathesiophobia.
A certain level of anxiety around change and the unknown is normal. Human evolution has taught us to always want control of our lives. It takes a very intense and consistent reaction to really be Metathesiophobia, but there are still plenty of us out there who find ourselves wracked with doubt, unsure about how to take a risk or opportunity for our career.
Then there are the people who seem to have it all together. They’re always ready to share their ideas, take on new responsibilities, and just seem at ease with themselves and their skills. Nicky Waite, the Regional Manager of the South West Region’s Operations Team at Water Corporation, is one of these inspiring, confident people.
Confidence through career pivots
Hospitality, disability employment services, labor hire, business consultancy, gynecology & obstetrics, and water resource management. On the surface these wouldn’t appear to have a lot in common in terms of career progression. But this is the exact path Nicky has taken to get where she is today.
“If you’d asked me when I was 17, what my career would look like, this wouldn’t have been it. I’d aspired to be a forensic scientist!”
Despite the different direction from her younger aspirations, she believes she’s had a very fortunate career in terms of always progressing the way she wanted to. A career coach – Dr Clare Allen years ago taught her the importance of setting goals and seeing challenges not so much as obstacles blocking her, but as means to develop the skills needed to reach those goals. Not only has this lesson helped her across her various career pivots, but it’s one of the lessons she’s passing on as a mentor for Water Corporation employees.
“I’m a person who embraces change and likes to help teams understand why change is required. I see the bigger picture, what will it look like in the end, and then sell them that vision.”
Confidence to achieve more
Nicky says Water Corporation has fantastic internal training programs, and she has continued to grow her skills through leadership courses whenever the opportunity has presented itself. This confidence to keep striving higher led to the award of a scholarship to attend the prestigious High Potential Leadership Course with Harvard University in 2018.
Each year, Water Corporation offers a scholarship opportunity for women within the business. In her submission, Nicky put forward what she wanted and the potential positive business outcomes. This story proves the old saying about being in it to win it, and in this case, having the confidence to put herself out there got Nicky exactly what she wanted.
“At Harvard I was meeting the very lecturers who’d written the papers I was researching back during my MBA studies. I found myself a little star-struck meeting these scholars.”
Nicky used the trip to build her confidence and develop her personal leadership brand.
“I want to be known for making a difference in the lives of the people I work with, for delivering results, and for being trusted. These leadership skills are transferable – and there’s so many ways I get to use them at Water Corporation – it’s fantastic!”
The High Potential Leadership scholarship isn’t the only award she’s earned either. In 2019, Nicky also won two Women in Tech Awards out of 200+ other highly qualified applicants.
Building confident habits
Confidence and health go hand in hand and looking after her physical and mental health has also played a big part in Nicky’s career success.
“I make time for myself – to look after my physical and mental health outside work. I like to keep fit with f45 and Yoga, and make sure I fuel my body properly. Of course I still love cake – just in moderation. Looking after yourself should be the first priority. Do that and everything else falls into place.”
Of course, it also helps that Water Corporation provide in-office physio appointments. As we interviewed Nicky, she was all but glowing after just coming back from a massage and was looking forward to working from home tomorrow. While Nicky isn’t on a permanent flexible roster, she says she’s supported to make her hours work around her regular travel commitments.
“I wished I’d worked here when my babies were born. The parental leave and return to work benefits are so great.”
Advice for building your own confidence
Surrounding yourself with positive influences is a great first step. This might be through a career coach, mentor, or supportive workplace culture like Nicky has found at Water Corporation. She also mentions how much it’s meant to her to have the support of her husband throughout her career.
“I am very thankful for the support Joe (my husband) has provided on my journey. He is my rock, my confidante and my biggest fan (most days anyway)!”
It’s a shame so many women go unnoticed in terms of achievements and putting themselves out there to take chances. People fear change because we can’t anticipate the outcome but staying put can be even riskier than changing. Benjamin Franklin is often quoted as saying, “When you are finished changing, you are finished”. Nicky too has some advice for those feeling that fear of change creep in:
“I think the biggest thing is to believe in yourself. Believe in your ability, in the things you’ve already done and convey those messages to the right people. Put yourself out there and have a go. And never give up. If one opportunity doesn’t work out, it doesn’t mean the next one won’t succeed.”