Blog post by LeadHerShip participant, Anwen Worthy
United Welsh is a housing association, operating throughout South Wales. That’s all I knew about it before taking part in the LeadHerShip programme through Chwarae Teg, which gave me the opportunity to shadow Lynda Sagona (United Welsh’s Chief Executive) for two days.
I applied to LeadHerShip on the advice of one of my managers. It was an opportunity to see how a different organisation operated, and to get advice about being a woman in a leadership role. I chose United Welsh as I was interested in finding out more the third sector.
The first morning did not start well – I left the piece of paper with United Welsh’s address on my kitchen table, so had to run back from the train station and subsequently missed the train! However, I did make it to the United Welsh offices in Caerphilly, and within five minutes of meeting Lynda I realised that the days were going to be much more valuable than I had expected – and also that Lynda was nothing like I imagined a chief executive would be.
As she brought us coffee and greeted almost every person who came through reception by name, it became clear that she is a leader who clearly believes in investing in her relationships with others. The dividends that this delivers for United Welsh were evidenced over the next two days – as time and again I saw how friendly the environment was, and how well the organisation works together.
Over the two days we had a whistle-stop tour of what United Welsh does. From sitting in on an event about the Foundational Economy and observing executive team and operational meetings to visiting housing projects, we got an insight into the breadth of the activities and functions which United Welsh undertakes.
There was also plenty of time to discuss what we’d seen and heard with Lynda and ask questions about her career and listen to her advice for us, as well as discussing how United Welsh applies concepts such as value for money to their activities (interesting for me as an accountant!). We also had a chance to speak to other women throughout the organisation about their work and experiences.
Unsurprisingly, I was exhausted at the end of each day! Overall, the days gave me a lot to think about, and plenty of advice to apply to my own career. The most memorable piece of advice that Lynda gave was the importance of being yourself when you are a leader. It is clear that she puts this into practice through how she leads United Welsh.
I would like to say a big “Thank You” to Chwarae Teg, United Welsh and Lynda for two very valuable days of shadowing. For anyone considering taking part in the LeadHerShip programme with Chwarae Teg I would say go for it – it will give you opportunities which would be hard to get any other way, and confidence for your future as a woman in leadership.