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7 Questions with Tara Huddless
7 Questions with Tara Huddless
Name: Tara Huddless
Current title: Founder and Director
Current organisation: My Mentor Finder
My career has twisted and turned in lots of exciting directions. I started in hospitality alongside working as a dancer and fitness instructor. I started working in corporate events after graduation, and then moved to pharmaceuticals, then to medical devices, to IT, Cyber Security and now I work for Vodafone Business looking after 14 of our global pharmaceutical and medical device clients. The scope of my role covers phones, of course, but also AI, IoT, Cloud, Cyber Security and Big Data.
Alongside my corporate career I teach fitness and dance classes, mentor young people, provide coaching for small business and people in corporate roles and I have recently launched a mentor matching platform called ‘My Mentor Finder’. Currently I am training to become a certified Mindfulness Practitioner and will soon be adding this to my services.
1. What have you found most challenging as a leader of a small or medium enterprise?
Keeping motivation when things are difficult. It takes a lot of grit to be able to pick yourself up when things don’t go the way you want or expect. You really have to focus on your purpose!
2. How did you become a leader of an SME? Can you please briefly tell the story?
I started the company. My Mentor Finder is my third business. Each time I begin by filling a gap in the market. Having worked in multinational corporations, SME and running small businesses, I have spoken to so many people who find it hard to find a mentor. My Mentor Finder makes mentorship available and accessible regardless of experience, location or industry.
3. How do you structure your work days from waking up to going to sleep?
I still have a full time job as well, so 8:30am to 5:15pm Monday to Friday belongs to my employer.
Typically, I am a late riser. I know entrepreneurs all say they get up at 3am or something, but that doesn’t work for me.
I catch-up on industry news and post on social media at around 8am, feed the doggo, and start work. I am fastidious about lunch breaks and finishing work on time, unless there is an urgent requirement that cannot wait. I look after Pfizer and AstraZeneca among others, so clearly sometimes I need to be available if they need something.
At Lunchtime I practice yoga, workout or write blogs and articles. My diary for coaching clients is open outside of my office hours from 7am until 9pm. After work I do a few chores and try to get into a relaxed state ASAP. I like to play piano.
My main creative, promotional and learning activity takes place over the weekend. I take a huge mug of tea back to bed, with my laptop, because that is where I feel comfortable and relaxed.
4. What's the most recent significant leadership lesson you've learned?
However great your friends and family are in life, you should never ask them for business advice (unless they are experts in that field) and you should never rely on them to interact with, or promote your business.
5. What's one book that has had a profound impact on your leadership so far? Can you please briefly tell the story of how that book impacted your leadership?
‘Smart Blonde’ by Dolly Parton. What Dolly’s story taught me is that you can be authentic, different, feminine, kind and still be shrewd, smart and successful. Selling yourself out to fit a corporate leadership model is not necessary and it won’t make you happy or make you a good leader.
6. How do you build leadership capacity in an SME?
1. Always listen to other people’s point of view and never ridicule people, ever.
2. Be definitive in your choices, stand behind them with your beliefs, but be open to positive change.
3. Be confident to say no, challenge your team, or tell them something is not the way you want it. When your name is above the door you owe it to yourself to ensure the output of the company fully and accurately represents your purpose and beliefs.
7. What is one meaningful story that comes to mind from your time as a leader of an SME so far?
When I launched My Mentor Finder in July 2020, the idea connected with so many people that my launch post was trending on LinkedIn. It received over 7,500 views and people contributed over 100 posts sharing the amazing advice they had been given by mentors. It was at that point that I knew my business had real value and would help people in the way I intended.