I am Director and Speaker at Tree of Knowledge. This involves working in collaboration with my co-directors at a strategic level to plan out our future goals, managing a team of 17 and the day job of delivering motivational workshops, keynotes and programmes on themes such as leadership, mindset and emotional intelligence.
What is your background prior to working for this company/setting up your company?
First and foremost, I am a psychologist. After completing my undergraduate degree, I trained as a primary teacher and after a few years in the primary classroom, I joined Tree of Knowledge as a pupil speaker, delivering workshops to school-aged children and young people. Whilst at Tree of Knowledge, and during maternity leave with my ﬁrst child, I began my Masters in Applied Positive Psychology and completed this in August 2016; just days before having my second child. In 2013 I became a Director at Tree of Knowledge and transitioned to delivering workshops and programmes with adults both in an educational setting and the corporate market.
What makes your company and/or your role stand out?
Last year, Tree of Knowledge celebrated working with 1 million young people in Scotland. This was a huge milestone for us as our vision is to Inspire the World, and this starts right here in Scotland. Our company is built on strong values of Passion, Learning, Innovation, Fun and Excellence. We strive to deliver these in all that we do both internally and externally. When I joined the company in 2010, my current role didn’t exist. There were only 5 of us and I was the only female. The existing Directors had not long led a management buy-out in some of the toughest ﬁnancial times we have ever faced in our lifetime. We now have a team of 17, set to grow to 19 by April. With this amount of growth, naturally, the need for higher levels of structure internally is important. Our people are who we are. My role not only allows me to inspire and motivate people in other businesses, but it also allows me to coach, mentor and help develop our people internally. This is something I love, and my time as a primary teacher gave me an unrivalled insight into how people learn at their best and that is when we are having fun. This is the culture that underpins everything we do, and as we grow it is the culture I intend to protect and cultivate.
What is your area of expertise / inspiration?
My area of inspiration and passion is Positive Psychology. After dabbling in clinical psychology during my undergraduate training I was amazed by the impact simple psychological interventions could make to people’s lives. I was however aware that I was only working with about 23% of the population and approximately 80% of psychology was set up to support this ﬁeld. I couldn’t help but wonder about the other 77%. Just because we don’t all fall into a clinical box doesn’t mean that we cope effectively with the stresses and strains life can throw at us. It doesn’t mean we feel fulﬁlled or are ﬂourishing in our chosen professions. After experiencing how children can push themselves out of their comfort zones and challenge themselves to overcome what often seems like impossible hurdles while teaching, I began to explore the research area of Mindset. Over time this led me to complete my Masters in Applied Positive Psychology which in essence is the psychology of positive mental health and well-being, as well as the range of interventions that all can easily apply to our everyday lives. This is my area of passion because I have seen for myself how applying some of these validated methodologies can help to develop capacity in people.
What are your plans for the future?
As a business, we have exciting plans to grow over the next few years. We have recently completed and launched our 5-year strategy which we hope will see us increase our offerings to both our education and corporate clients. We aim to develop a range of research-based interventions for our education clients which are designed to assist in closing the attainment gap in Scottish education by developing growth mindsets and resilience in young people.
This year also sees the launch of our new leadership programme, VIBE, which takes an unconventional approach to developing the skills to be an amazing leader by focusing on what you transmit.
We will also be launching a new branch of Tree of Knowledge called TOK Research. This will see
us delivering the Warwick Edinburgh Mental Well-being Survey to schools giving them a tangible and impartial way to measure the well-being of their young people and staff.
Personally, my plan for the future is to continue to develop my own skills in managing and developing my team while continuing to offer an excellent service to my clients. I am also keen to keep learning and researching the impact of positive psychology interventions on people’s mindset and well-being. On top of all that I will continue the wonderful juggling act that is being a full time working mum and wife, with a growing business and occasionally remembering to go for a run.
What inspires or motivates you?
I am inspired by great storytelling. Everyone I meet has a story to share and so often they don’t even realise it. I love seeing people develop and grow in conﬁdence and I am particularly inspired by people who refuse to be pigeonholed: the ones who don’t do things that are expected by society. I think these are the stories that inspire me most because they give the rest of us permission to push ourselves and break free of the constraints that society sets us. I am competitive, but only really against myself. From being a female speaker in a male-dominated environment, I learned a long time ago that I have no need to be one of the boys or wear a suit to do my job. I don’t need to be the same as them, I just need to be the best version of myself, always. I admit my mistakes when I make them, learn from them and wake up the next day with the intention of being better. My team inspire me. Our business development and marketing team work tirelessly to provide our clients with the best possible service (and much to my delight consists mainly of strong-minded dedicated women, a far cry from the male-dominated environment I joined 8 years ago). Our speakers are out every day delivering inspirational workshops across the country. Our job can be full-on and tiring, but they don’t complain or moan about working hard.
Instead, they come back and share wonderful stories about the wonderful people they have met.