Welcome to my stop on the She’s Back blog tour with Love Books Tours!
Many thanks to Kelly @ Love Books Tours for arranging the following interview…..
Where did/do you get your ideas from?
The genesis of the book was Lisa’s own experience. She’d had a successful twenty year career as a management consultant but after taking a six year career break when her children were young, she found getting back on track very difficult. Impossible, in fact.
Deb was working as a consultant to lots of companies in the creative sector – advertising agencies, architects and the like. She knew the problems were just the same there. Together Lisa and Deb set about figuring out exactly how women could get their careers back on track.
The She’s Back book was the result of four years of research into exactly what the hurdles are and how to overcome them,
Could you tell us a little about the people who feature in your book?
The book is full of the stories of women and men we met along the way. People whose careers didn’t follow nice straight lines and who had to be inventive, creative and determined when it came to picking up again.
Our online survey reached over 1,300 women and we ran workshops with over 120. Added to which we met lots and lots of individuals )and drank a vast amount of coffee in the process).
Can you share your writing process with us, in a nutshell?
The thought of writing 60,000 words was daunting, to say the least, so we began by breaking it down into chapters. Each chapter would talk about one aspect of the problem or the solution: we identified around 18 chapter headings which we thought of as 18 articles of around 3,000 words. Still not 60,000 but definitely more achievable.
We wrote around Lisa’s kitchen table, taking one chapter at a time. We like to write the way we speak so if ever it felt as thought the writing was becoming too “corporate” we’d stand up, pace around the table and say what we wanted to say out loud. And then write that down.
Who are your top 5 favourite authors?
If you could meet any author, who would it be and what would you ask them?
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. What’s next?
(Deb) Great answer, I can’t top that.
Were you a big reader as a child?
Totally. All the classics. The Little Princess, What Katy Did, The Secret Garden, Anne of Green Gables – all very girly. But also Treasure Island, White Fang … I would hide up a tree in the garden so that I could finish a book.
When did you start to write?
Lisa My last “proper” job was as Director of Communication at Deloitte, so I had to write for that but the writing was a little dull. I think I first found my groove when I had to do a blog about the Beijing Olympics as part of the team that went out there.
Everyone else was writing about the sport …I tended to muse on why people who clearly had never done a day’s exercise were suddenly walking about wearing sports gear and the truly awful pastel colours of the kaghouls we were given when it rained.
Deb I’ve worked for myself for the last 20 years, and a lot of that has been about helping organisations and teams tell their story. I would craft and shape the narrative for architects, charities, marketing and creative agencies when they were pitching, and I would help leaders tell their stories. So I guess I’ve been writing, on and off, for the past 20 years. But never anything as ambitious as a book like this.
However, when I started working with Lisa, we clicked. We quickly found a way to write collaboratively, talking through the words on the page so they felt like speaking to an informed friend. It was a very rewarding process.
If you could re-write the ending to any book what would it be and what would you change?
Is there a book you wish you had written?
The end of a Fine Balance. They’d all live happily ever after.
A book I wish I’d written? The Little Virtues by Natalia Ginzburg. Or anything by her really, sublime writing.
I would re-write the ending of Gone With The Wind. Scarlet becomes president.
If you wrote an autobiography, what would your title be?
She’s Back: the inside story. I’m not very inventive when it comes to titles.
Do The Hustle.
If you could invite any fictional character for coffee who would it be and where would you take them?
Anne of Green Gables. I think taking her to the Ritz would be a laugh.
Bernadette, from Where’d You Go Bernadette. I’d convince her to take up architecture again, and I think we’d get on.
What are you working on right now?
Practising what I preach. I’m working on a new venture called the Reignite Academy which is providing paths back to work for “career break” lawyers.
I’ve just taken up a new role as VP of Culture at Kano, a creative tech company, so I’m helping lots of women in that industry. And I’m continuing to do what I’ve always done with my clients: creative inspiration, delivering business growth differently.
Tell us about your last release?
Do you have a new release due?
What do you generally do to celebrate on publication day?
On publication day we had a fabulous party hosted by one of Deb’s ad agency clients and drank copious amounts of pousse rapiere (an orange liqueur from the south west of France that you mix with prosecco). Delicious.
The creative agency was Mother (who happen to be brilliant) and their brand was a perfect fit for us. We also had the luxury of a private dinner at Claridges, hosted by Annoushka Ducas, founder of Links London, and now running Annoushka Jewellery. Annoushka is a huge champion of women in work, and we had so many great women at that dinner, representing so many sectors.
How can readers keep in touch with you?
We have a Facebook group called She’s Back that’s pretty active, I’m also do quite a lot on LinkedIn, and we’re on instagram sporadically @shesbackuk
Is there anything else you would like us to know?
I’m pretty proud of the fact that I found my creative flair in my fifties.
Thank you for taking the time to answer my questions!
ABOUT LISA UNWIN
Lisa Unwin is the founder of She’s Back, a business whose purpose is to enable business to access the unique talent in women returning to work after an extended career break. A former partner with Arthur Andersen Business Consulting and Director of Brand and Communication at Deloitte, Lisa had a 20 year career in professional services prior to setting up She’s Back.
ABOUT DEB KHAN
Deb Khan combines two successful careers, leveraging her background in the creative arts. She has a proven track record affecting change across a wide range of businesses in the Advertising & Media, Technology, Charity & Education sectors. Deb is a results driven Trainer, Workshop Leader, Facilitator & Coach.
happy reading 🙂