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Learning to believe in myself

Sara Maddison at the Digital Voices launch
Sara talking to Digital Voice colleagues

I’ve been afforded many great opportunities, especially over the last 6 years working with people who’ve believed in me, which has really made a difference to the person I am today.

A new role

I’m currently working in DWP Digital as a Senior Digital Project Manager. I started my new role in March 2019 and it was really challenging - if I’m honest, I was terrified! I had thoughts about whether I’d made the right decision to leave a role I knew well and throw myself into something completely new. Could I do it? Would I be putting additional strain on myself and my family?

But, looking back at what has been an emotional roller-coaster, 15 months down the line I can honestly say I’m loving my job and the many challenges it brings.

One of my biggest fears was finding the right work-life balance and finding out if working part-year would still viable to be successful, and it absolutely is.

Having a belief in myself

I feel very lucky to have had the backing of a truly inspiring leader, Jack. She believed in me and knew I could do it. It was this support that gave me the confidence to put myself out there and apply for promotion.

Having someone who believed in me put me on the right trajectory for building my career. Now I believe in myself and my ability to do it. As a result, I’m building my inner confidence and I’m more accepting that my decisions are sound, but also that it’s ok to make mistakes. That’s how we learn isn’t it?

We’re often our own greatest critics and when we set our standards high it can be an ‘up’ and ‘down’ journey!

Digital Voices

I still have moments where I struggle to believe in myself, and can lack self-confidence. I think ‘I can’t’, or ‘is this really happening?’, and have to pinch myself. This was my motivator to apply for the ‘Digital Voices’ programme; a programme helping women in the organisation build their confidence, learn digital skills and grow their network.

I felt this would be an opportunity to really look at myself, grasp opportunities that were outside of my comfort zone, build my own confidence and inspire others as I’ve been inspired. I want to be able to help others develop, realise and reach their potential.

Sara in front of a video camera
Practicing talking on camera - part of the Digital Voices programme

A mentoring opportunity

On joining my new team, I met Mark, who reminded me so much of myself 6 years ago. He was lacking in confidence and a belief in himself. He had no idea how brilliant he is and his value across our team. I was really happy to have the opportunity to mentor Mark, which in part is about being a sounding board, offering advice and continual support. Mark told me that my honesty and willingness to share stories about my own self-doubts have helped him immensely.

During one of our many discussions I excitedly told him all about the Digital Voices Programme. Although the programme is for women, I want to be able to share my learning with Mark and help him to build strong networks and identify opportunities for himself.

Mark and Sara at a mentoring session
Mark and Sara

Becoming a Digital Voice is a journey, which will go beyond the length of the programme. I started in DWP on a youth training scheme in 1996 and my career has moved on so much since then. Ultimately it is about embracing opportunities and bringing others along with me to make the organisation a great place to work. That’s my ambition and how I want to move my career forward.

We’re recruiting diverse, talented people right now. Visit our careers site to see our latest vacancies.

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  1. Comment by jacqueline hanson posted on

    An inspirational story Sara; great to see how you have built your own confidence and taken opportunities such as DWP Digital Voices, and then used your experience to mentor others - living the civil service values.

  2. Comment by Sara Maddison posted on

    Thank you, your inspiring leadership has taught me so much over the years.

  3. Comment by Lisa Black posted on

    A great blog, Sara, that is open, honest and probably reflects how most of us feel half the time; we all have something to bring to the party - its just believing it!

    • Replies to Lisa Black>

      Comment by Sara Maddison posted on

      Thank you Lisa, that is one of the reasons I wanted to share my story as I resonates with many of us.

  4. Comment by Katie Dowd posted on

    Sara, we were paired up when I first joined Digital and I can’t tell you how valuable your presence was to me. It’s no surprise to me you’re achieving great things, building your career and helping others in the process. Well done.

    • Replies to Katie Dowd>

      Comment by Sara Maddison posted on

      Thank you Katie, I remember the days so well. It was great working with you and I am so pleased we are on our Digital Voices journey together.

  5. Comment by Angela Eblett posted on

    It is lovely to see you share how you got over your doubts and have settled so well into your team Sara - and great to see you inspiring others too - you are a wonderful advocate and an inspiration to all of us who have our doubts - looking forward to see where you take your leadership journey and I am proud to have seen you grow - well done 🙂

    • Replies to Angela Eblett>

      Comment by Sara Maddison posted on

      Thank you Angela. I am loving the challenges within my role and the opportunities it brings to develop further.

  6. Comment by Jenny Mulligan posted on

    Sara, a fantastic blog, really good to hear your story and the journey you have been on. Having had first hand, the opportunity for you to be part of our team over the last few weeks demonstrates your knowledge, experience, expertise, leadership and Civil Service qualities. Well done.

    • Replies to Jenny Mulligan>

      Comment by Sara Maddison posted on

      Thank you Jenny - I am really enjoying working with you too. We have faced and overcome many challenges of late and I am grateful for the opportunity to be part of this team.

  7. Comment by Cheryl Stevens posted on

    Great blog Sara, so glad you shared your story. I was always in awe of how quickly you grasped the issues and then resolved them with gusto. It's funny how confidence and belief affects us all, it is good to say it out loud.

    • Replies to Cheryl Stevens>

      Comment by Sara Maddison posted on

      Thank you Cheryl, I really appreciate the honesty and richness of our discussions. Working with you and your team over the past year has been really insightful. Great collaboration and building strong relationships is key in bringing the right people together to drive success. Look forward to the next challenge.

  8. Comment by Alison Horabin posted on

    Excellent blog Sara! You are inspiring others to also believe in themselves. Brilliant. It's great working with you on Digital Voices too.

    • Replies to Alison Horabin>

      Comment by Sara Maddison posted on

      Thank you Alison and I am really enjoying our Digital Voices journey together too.

  9. Comment by Heather Burdon posted on

    Fab blog Sara! And now you will go on to inspire using the tools and experiences you have leant & observed to build wider capability within the Department (and it goes much wider than this outside of work too!).
    Well done...

    • Replies to Heather Burdon>

      Comment by Sara Maddison posted on

      Thank you Heather, we will have to touch base soon.

  10. Comment by Roger Sackfield posted on

    Great blog Sara, well done - and also just reflect on what you've achieved recently in your role with the Covid Front door and your massive contribution to what weve achieved as a team - way out of your comfort zone again, just thrown in at the deep end in the midst of the madness - but you just cracked on and delivered, with a smile, humour and humility. Well done

    • Replies to Roger Sackfield>

      Comment by Sara Maddison posted on

      Thank you Roger, it has been great working with everyone on the team. We've learned so much from the last few months, overcome an abundance of challenges at pace. It has also been a great opportunity to build new networks across the Department. Thank you for a great opportunity.

  11. Comment by Kabir Murad posted on

    Love this Sara. Fair to say your doing a great job and thank you for all the support you have provided me over the past year.

    • Replies to Kabir Murad>

      Comment by Sara Maddison posted on

      Thank you Kabir, it is a real pleasure to working with you.

  12. Comment by Danny McLaughlin posted on

    Great read Sara!

    • Replies to Danny McLaughlin>

      Comment by Sara Maddison posted on

      Thanks Danny and I have really appreciated all your support and advice over the past few months.

  13. Comment by Gail Davies posted on

    Brilliant blog Sara.

    • Replies to Gail Davies>

      Comment by Sara Maddison posted on

      Thank you Gail

  14. Comment by Kelly-Anne Green posted on

    First of many great blogs, Sara! Fab read. Catch up soon.

    • Replies to Kelly-Anne Green>

      Comment by Sara Maddison posted on

      Thank you Kelly-Anne, agree we must catch up soon.

  15. Comment by Stephen H posted on

    Nice one Sara. Honest and inciteful. Proud of you!☺️

    • Replies to Stephen H>

      Comment by Sara Maddison posted on

      Thank you Stephen