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Why did you apply for Special Edition?

I have lots of ambition but I felt a bit stuck when it came to channeling it to progress my career and personal goals. Darcie Tanner, at Stripe Communications, had taken part in the previous year’s programme and recommended I apply for it. I didn’t need much convincing after hearing, first-hand, how inspiring and transformational the programme is.

At the first Special Edition session, we shared what we wanted to get out of the programme with one another. I was looking to increase my confidence, drive up the quality of my design work, share knowledge and ideas with others, and feel more focussed about how to achieve my goals.

What did you gain?

The session on goal setting and time management really helped me to turn wishes into achievable goals. And for the first time, I sat down and really assessed what I wanted to get out of my career.

Self belief

Self doubt often held me back from making progress but I left Special Edition with renewed confidence. I also learnt that the most successful tech companies in San Francisco strive for progress, not perfection. That mantra is now mentally tattooed on my forehead.

A new way of thinking

Each speaker provided a fresh perspective on dealing with challenges at work, prioritising what is important, and increasing productivity. I left every session feeling energised. The creative approaches adopted by companies such as IDEO in Palo Alto and DesignStudio in San Francisco were hugely inspiring.

Enhanced communication skills

From learning visual mind-mapping and how to present with impact to putting my elevator pitch to use in San Francisco, my communication skills have gone up a notch.

Meaningful connections

Not only has my professional network expanded but I have also made meaningful connections and friendships with the group of inspiring women I shared this experience with.

How have you used your Special Edition experience?

New year. New job.

Special Edition helped me to align my professional objectives with personal values, which resulted in a move to a much larger design agency. I am continuing to use what I’ve learned to make my mark.

IDEO, Facebook, Pixar, and Kat Gordon are all advocates of mentoring, whatever stage you are in your career. I have been mentoring college students for several years but hadn’t sought a mentor of my own. Since Special Edition, I gained an industry mentor to support my career progression and plan to seek out other mentors in the future to gain a new perspective.

Live and work by my values

Many of the companies we met emphasised the importance of embedding their vision and values in their culture? I’d never considered establishing what my own values are until our trip to SF. I now refer to these to stay focussed on what matters to me.

Kickstarting creativity

Armed with new knowledge and feeling energised, I started a creative side project. The programme gave me the momentum to drive ideas forward and make them happen.

Passing the knowledge on

I have shared and continue to share the insight I gained from Special Edition within work, during mentoring sessions at Edinburgh College, and beyond. Just as Darcie inspired me to go for this opportunity, I hope I can encourage someone else to do the same.

Was a women-only programme important to you?

With so few women in top roles in the digital creative industry, it’s important that women have the same opportunities as men to shine.

I found that many of the challenges I faced were also shared by the other women on Special Edition. Our solidarity has turned into long lasting friendships and a valuable support network.

When women are better represented in the boardroom, there will no longer be a need for women-only programmes like Special Edition.

Thanks Kirsten!

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