Hello, this is Emma. Thank you for your welcome to The Change Maker Group. As a result of Jill sharing her story with me, I discover we are united with a shared passion.

A passion for supporting individuals, teams and organisations to be the very best they can be. Nurturing resilience and self-management as a way of life.

Not only are we sharing our beliefs and insights about mental health and resilience, more importantly we share the tools, tips and techniques we know work!

Having shared my story with Jill, I asked her about her story.

This is what she told me:

Jill’s Story

Jill Whittington

‘I started my working life in 1972 as a wide eyed, enthusiastic, excited young girl straight from school!!!

I did not know what I wanted to do. In those days it was unusual to automatically go to university. Moreover, my family did not have the reserves to send me. My Mother filled in an application for me for a job at ‘The Prudential’ – a good solid household corporation for a respectable young lady! At the time I was quite cross as I wanted to do ‘something in fashion’ however it was working in London, which did have somewhat of an overwhelmingly exciting appeal to me……..and boy did it serve me well!

From Small beginnings

I quickly settled into working life. I found it was a natural transition from my ‘Girl’s Grammar School’ as the culture was quite strict and top down. Even with an attendance register attracting a red line against late arrivals!

Unexpectedly for me, I absolutely loved it! A key thing that stood out then and stands out today, is that the culture naturally looked after and nurtured its people. The social element was part and parcel of working life with the ability to participate in many sports or pastimes. The building even had its own theatre!!!

Fun aside, there are two key things I immediately learnt:

  • We naturally networked, made connections, communicated, and built trust ACROSS departments.
  • Overall wellbeing through keeping fit, enjoying pastimes, and creating social interaction were natural outcomes.

All things Change 

I quickly worked through the ranks and was fast tracked onto an executive development scheme. My curiosity caused me to as ‘why?’ and ‘What if..’ quite a lot!

Entering into the world of change, I was at the forefront of the revolution in financial services that we know today.

My first taste of project management is being thrown in the deep end, by a ‘game changing’ manager, seeing my potential to manage a failing IT project. Now anyone who knows me will attest to the fact that all things IT are just NOT my forte!

He knew I would use common sense, ask the right questions, and involve and support people through it. And that’s what I did!

The multi-million pound project was hailed as a huge success. It led the way for a different way of running projects within the organisation, whereby people were put above process.


Having laid the foundations for change management, I added to this, becoming Crosby trained in TQM and as a European Business Excellence Assessor. I had many ‘first’s, including achieving first in industry ISO 9001 with TickIT for the first PMO I set up.

As a project manager I became frustrated if strategic direction was not clear, leading me into the world of strategic planning. For me this was not just about setting the direction! Taking into account bottom up as well as top-down involvement, I became passionate the need for a fully inclusive process. Moreover to include curiosity to ensure innovation. Lastly being serious about values being ‘actual’ as opposed to an ‘espoused’ list.


I recognised that with implementing change across functional boundaries, feedback was vital. This did not nicely ‘fit’ into the performance management processes at the time and was not automatically sought.

Whilst it was not an accepted thing to do, as a manager I knew the most important feedback was from my team. Consequently, I asked for it. This raised a few eyebrows, however led the way for me to introduce reverse mentoring.

Yes, I felt momentarily vulnerable, but it reaped such rich rewards. It initiated an amazing cultural development which manifested in top employee survey results. So much so that the then UK CEO of a major FTSE 100 company accepted my suggestion for me to ‘mentor’ him, seeking feedback from the organisation to feed into the strategic planning process.

United by a Shared Passion – Not all plain sailing !

Like Emma, I felt vulnerable on occasions:

  • I faced lots of prejudice as that first non-techy (and female) to run that first project – my grilling by the project board always seemed to be grittier than for anyone else!
  • I was the first female to go back to work after we had our beautiful daughter, at a time when that choice was first available – prejudice, minimal tolerance. None of the legal and tangible support structures and flexibility we know today. I had to work harder than ever to prove I could do it. It was tough. I felt vulnerable
  • I have had my usual share of life challenges with loss of loved ones, plus a couple of traumatic family tragedies
  • I have doubted myself on many occasions feeling paralysing dread about leaping into the unknown or doing something for the first time.

Inspiration and Support

Blessed to have 3 specific managers at different times, plus the constant support of a loving husband, I had a safe haven when I felt vulnerable. They all had total belief in me at times when I found it hard to share that belief! Not only could I air my vulnerability but I received protection, space and ‘permission’ to experiment and be myself.

I now know my predominant proclivity from my Change Maker Profile is that of Game Changer. This explains a lot and understand why sometimes my ideas fell on stony ground or are resisted.

Allowing me the space, those 3 managers allowed me to be a maverick. Trusting myself to do what felt natural to do. Enabling me to fly.

Being a ‘people’ manager became my USP and I thought ‘..is this not every leader’s USP?’

United by a shared passion.

Seminal moments

A vast array of training and reading opened my mind. Inspiring me, and endorsing what I felt and knew instinctively to be so. The following are major ‘aha’ moments for me:

  • Charles Handy’s refreshing take on working life and organisational design. I was living this and wished I had written these two books!
    • The age of unreason.
    • The Empty Raincoat: Making sense of the future.
  • Claus Moller
    • Founder of TMI, (Time Management International) in 1975 who taught me that time is the only resource that renews itself daily. Once lost it can never be replaced.
  • Steven Covey
    • The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People – who hasn’t been influenced by this?!

In parallel I had a continuing fascination with wellbeing. How physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual elements add up as a complete human and how one affects the other if out of balance.

I knew that my very existence is up to me to look after, whatever hat I am wearing.

Fast Forward

Having lived and worked over 4 decades,  I guarantee there is no element of change, personal development, or business improvement that I have not come across!

I shall focus on the four things:

  • Things I have learnt
  • Things I have observed
  • What I do today

What have I learnt?

My key learning is quite simply:

  • People as individuals are ALWAYS at the heart of it all!

Seeming an obvious thing to say now, as so much has been written about it however this came naturally as my USP.

Within this I fervently believe:

  • We are one human being continually balancing and juggling different roles so for me it is all about ‘life balance’ not ‘work/life’ balance
  • Taking responsibility for one’s wellbeing is critical
  • We all need support or a gentle nudge to help us to acknowledge that responsibility and support to do it.
  • In any change environment people need a ‘home base’ supported in a safe environment to be OK about feeling vulnerable.
  • As a leader, allowing people to play to their strengths and flourish is game changing.
  • One’s colleagues are the best source of insight, knowledge and inspiration for ‘knowing how you are doing’ through feedback
  • Overall wellbeing is a mix of physical, mental, emotional and ‘spiritual’ (in its widest sense)
  • Enabling communication across boundaries developing empathy and trust is vital.
  • ‘Alternative’ is easy to become ‘inclusive’ through introducing quick, easy and effective wellbeing practices into daily life.

United by a shared passion

Things I have observed

Although not experiencing complete burnout, what I do today is shaped by my vulnerable moments and my observations of people near to or experiencing burnout and supporting them through it.

My observations:

  • Stress in the workplace destroys people if they feel they cannot admit it and do not know how to find a way out.
  • Work-life balance, and underlying issues, are just the same as they ever have been, arguably worse.
  • People still cite ‘lack of time’ to look after themselves, seeking quick fixes
  • The right support and ‘awakening’ to take responsibility for overall resilience and wellbeing as a way of life is transformative.
  • Asking for help is a key strength
  • Everything comes back to us as an individual to utilise the power of the brain and mind to create habits that support us as opposed to holding us back through doubt, fear and unhelpful learned behaviours.

United by a shared passion

What I do today

 ‘I empower individuals and teams with simple effective solutions to enable resilience to become a way of life to thrive not merely survive.’

I do this now in two main ways:

  • As a GCologist, supporting all forms of change management.

Having lived through psychometrics excess (!) The Change Maker Profile is unique, enabling immediately constructive and fully inclusive conversations leading to change. I often think if only I’d had that available then!

  • As a Mind Chi Mentor

When I met Vanda North and Mind Chi, it was serendipity personified! Mind Chi encapsulates all I have ever believed and practiced.

Mind Chi is a powerful enabler to adopt new skills, developing ANY business discipline e.g. making effective decisions and finally to personal goals such as maintaining good health.

I absolutely love introducing people to Mind Chi and coaching them to achieve chosen goals. It is the ultimate App that is with you all the time!’

Just the Beginning – United by a Shared passion

Jill and I have both reinvented ourselves because of our experiences and are passionate about sharing our learning with you.

I hope our two articles have paved the way for explaining how Jill and my beliefs and insights about mental health, well-being and resilience have formed. More importantly, why we choose to share the tools, tips and techniques we know work.

Taking responsibility for our resilience and preventing burnout are as relevant today as they have ever been. This remains our passion and why we do what we do.

Join us next week where we take a deeper look at vulnerability.


Contact Emma for an informal chat.