I attended the Female Senior Associate Development Course from September 2017 until summer 2018.

Initially I was slightly apprehensive about how much of an impact the group workshops and individual coaching would really have. However, after the first session, I was feeling positive about how the workshops and sessions could benefit my working life internally at Osborne Clarke, my client relationships and my personal development. Ultimately, I was successful in being promoted to Associate Director in November 2018.

The workshops and coaching sessions went hand in hand on this course. The workshops were (as you might expect!) led by a very enthusiastic lady, and this was quite infectious - which was great because you really needed to go along ready to put 100% into both the workshop itself and the follow up work.  There were points which really resonated with me in all of the sessions, and I was always keen to get home and scribble down my thoughts about how I could use the skills and techniques in my role. The workshops also began to open my mind as to how many self-limiting behaviours we often have as women! Being aware of these thoughts, and actually challenging them, was helpful on its own but really stood me in good stead to challenge my internal belief system at the coaching sessions.

Throughout the development course and after it finished, I felt the impact on my working life. I viewed colleague relationships and interactions very differently and became much more aware of certain behaviours. This has impacted the way I now approach matters, issues and client relationships. I feel much more confident in myself and my abilities following the course (and as I have been with Osborne Clarke for 10 years, I'm fairly sure this was an internal change, rather than anything at the firm!). Although I felt I was ready for promotion, this new confidence in my abilities and skills meant I was able to articulate this to Partners and the decision-making panels.

It was interesting how much it also affected others' perception of me and actually altered my approach to my role at Osborne Clarke, which was essential to generate support across the business for my promotion to Associate Director. My enthusiasm was obvious and, in our open plan office, the juniors and mid-level lawyers fed off of this. My increased confidence and self-awareness mean I am now capable (although not without effort!) of being much more direct with clients and colleagues, which has empowered me to control meetings and calls.  While this is something which may come very naturally to men, it is something I (and plenty of other women) need to proactively work at, and something which was essential to demonstrate my capability as part of the promotion process.

Joanna Risdale, Associate Director