Billie’s Story: From corporate sales to social impact
1. What did you escape and why?
A corporate sales job in an IT and Business Consultancy servicing Investment Banks. I left because I’d lost all sense of my own identity, I craved a better working culture and I was desperate to do something that had a purpose beyond increased profits for shareholders.
2. How did you escape?
My escape took 10 months.
Step 1 – where I rediscovered myself and armed myself with the tools and strategies needed for a successful transition.
Step 2 – negotiated a role change within my old company so that I could build skills inline with the person I wanted to become (this took me from sales to L&D).
Step 3 – followed my curiosities which led me to retrain as a health coach (part time), volunteering for a charity (109 World) and learning to code with CodeFrist:Girls.
Step 4 – QUIT! Handed in my notice to pursue a life with more purpose by giving back to others, this led me to Zinc VC which is a social impact tech accelerator. An organisation building new businesses that are addressing the mental and emotional health of women and girls in the developed world.
3. What was the best advice/most helpful thing you did?
I named my inner saboteur (that negative voice in my mind) – Cuthbert. This helped me build my self-confidence back up and gave me the ability to challenge the damaging and unhelpful thoughts in my head. ‘Edge challenges’ were also a huge help – they’ve led to a series of events that I never would have done before. By starting easy and only venturing slightly outside of my comfort zone I am now able to go further than I was ever able to.
4. What was the hardest part and how to did you overcome it?
Self-belief and the limited ability to see a new future for myself. It’s incredibly hard to imagine a new future and a new identity when you believe you are only as good as your past. I overcame this slowly and painfully by constantly challenging my beliefs, surrounding myself with people that believed in me, and pushing myself out of my comfort zone continuously. It’s not easy but we are all capable of it.
5. What are you doing now and how does it feel?
I am part of Zinc VC – a social impact tech accelerator. I am 1 of 55 others that have been chosen to build tech companies that will transform the mental and emotional health of women and girls in the developed world. It feels overwhelming and I wrestle with imposter syndrome every day but it’s amazing! I never thought I would be someone that jumped out of bed on a Monday but now I am. I feel like I’m actively contributing rather than passively consuming. I am incredibly proud of myself and genuinely thankful for my past challenges as they’ve led me here. Esc the City was instrumental in my escape journey!
6. How can we help you?
I am currently in the research phase of my new business and I am exploring sexuality and it’s connection to mental health. If anyone is willing to talk to me about their own sexuality and sex education that would be incredibly useful. On the flip side, if I can help you in any way please reach out.
Billie recently cycled 320 miles, in 3 months, in 3 rides, all to raise money for The Panzi Hospital, working to end violence against women and girls in the DRC and around the world, and 109 World, a non-profit committed to leveraging social media for good by empowering ordinary people to make a difference in their community. Find out more and support the cause here.
To get unstuck and start making steps towards new areas of work, find out more about Escape’s career change course which Billie completed in December 2016.