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"Be authentic - and remember to laugh!"

Maria Blakley, Project Manager – POWERful Women

“Day to day through POWERful Women, I speak to people juggling work responsibilities with their career ambitions and their commitments at home – and that’s tough.   As a single parent to two teenagers, one home educated due to special needs, I know the stresses. Add to the mix that life in the energy sector, where I’ve worked for 25 years, is never dull and throw in a pandemic – and it becomes clear that mental health is more important than ever.

But I also see inspiring examples of coping strategies and leadership. My boss and POWERful Women board member, Louise, currently leading the Energy Institute team from home, swears by fresh flowers on her desk and the stress-busting value of a power walk. Her regular email updates always have a personal touch and give space for team members to contribute in their own authentic way. “It’s good to talk”, as they say, which can be hard when you’re not able to chat whilst passing by in the office, but we share funny memes and calls begin with a check-in on how we are coping.

Laughter is a pressure valve for my job-share partner, Rachel, now navigating new challenges with a 10-month-old daughter and very limited childcare.  When it doesn’t go to plan, she says that she and her husband “take a moment to just have a really good laugh!”.

I think being myself – authentic – is one of my most important survival strategies.  So when joining online meetings, I have never been afraid to show myself in all my messy glory! I have found it often puts other people at ease, and I don’t think it’s unprofessional to show that you are only human.  And as a team and network, POWERful Women will carry on talking, supporting each other when things are hard, and remembering to “take ten” to have a good laugh.”


Maria Blakley