Investing in female leadership

Stacey Carr
7 March 2024
Stacey Carr

Pilotlight has the privilege of working with a diverse and inspiring community of female leaders. To celebrate International Women’s Day we asked Stacey Carr, a Pilotlighter via our Ignite Initiative, to share her leadership journey with us and why she believes investing in your leadership development is so important for women.

Back to the beginning

Most of my professional career was spent in Los Angeles where I worked as an Unscripted TV Development Executive. I have led the development and production of various TV projects at companies like OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network, Endemol Shine North America, and Nickelodeon.

I have also volunteered on the boards of a couple of networking and professional development groups for women executives on the rise, as well as Black professionals in the Unscripted space.

Since moving to the UK, alongside my work as an independent consultant for individual creatives and companies, I have led industry panel discussions as a moderator.

Navigating hierarchical structures 

It can be challenging navigating hierarchical structures within my industry.

During my career I’ve been in the position where I’ve had a big workload, and a lot of passion and emotional investment in a project, but what the person at the top says is what ends up happening and I was the last to find out. There have also been instances where I’ve had a lot of responsibility above my experience level, but I wasn’t receiving the feedback to inform how well I was doing.  Both situations have led to my professional confidence becoming fragmented. 

Being a fairly new immigrant in London, I have the additional challenge of finding companies and people whose priority is less on UK-specific experience and more on whether someone is a fast learner, or well-connected, and bringing plenty of relevant and applicable experience. 

Believing in potential

When it comes to learning to lead in an environment which may be less receptive to diverse voices, I am a major proponent of building confidence outside of the workplace. This will inevitably trickle into your professional performance.     

For me, getting involved with Pilotlight was a big part of that development.

I’m so grateful that Pilotlight was open to my leadership potential. The Pilotlight 360 programme saw me being part of a team coaching a football club’s foundation. While I had things to learn about the cultural nuances of how charities and sport work here as opposed to the US, my questions were welcome.

The programme has helped me to understand that so much of a coach’s job is about listening, but that our contributions are valuable as well as expected. I've come to realise the immense value of my leadership potential, even in the face of challenges and cultural differences.

Empowering your leadership skills  

I want to encourage and empower others to see the things they do outside of work as valuable. Even if that experience isn’t listed on the top of your CV, it should still be acknowledged and talked about as strengths and contributors to high-potential work and capability.

Pilotlight has opened my eyes to the potential for impact amongst charities and various industries in the UK. It creates a space for volunteerism while simultaneously developing your leadership skills.

I would love for more people to see philanthropy and generosity as a way of life, and I think that can start at work. In particular, I want to see Pilotlight and the entertainment industry join forces. I am proud to be a part of it and can’t wait to see Pilotlight’s continued growth and impact!

Tips for finding your voice

There may be times when you’re a part of the decision-making or you’ve got a place in the discussion, but you still feel hesitant to use your voice due to feeling self-conscious. To help, I share some of the things I always try to do:

  • Aim to feel as prepared as possible for the meeting
  • Make sure to take notes or do necessary research before meetings so you have an idea of what you may want to say or ask
  • Try to speak clearly and succinctly and don’t rush to say anything unnecessary
  • Identify your lane and main area of contribution or point of view and stick to it
  • Strive to be a good listener and affirm and reinforce the things that your colleagues say. No one needs repetition so try not to be afraid to say I agree and keep things moving!

Lastly, I think women should continue to invest in their dreams and hobbies. Even if what you are doing feels small, non-consequential or will take a long time to accomplish, continuing to take steps forward builds strength and resilience.

Ready to take the next step to do more for your world? Join our mission today.

Tips for female leadership

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Natalie Humby | 8 March 2023

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Mel Whitney-Long | 8 March 2022

At seven years old I was a tree-climbing, dress-hating, future astronaut. Aged 17 not much had changed. From an early age, both of my parents encouraged me to strive for whatever I wanted to be, whatever I wanted to do. It was well into my adolescence before I even stopped to consider that being a girl – or more accurately not being a boy - might be a barrier in my future.

Be a risk-taker and fail forward

Darrell Stenering | 20 October 2021

I have always been close to my mum and my older sister. I would say my mum is an inspiration to me; I always behave in fear of disappointing her; she's anchored me throughout my life.