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Women in Maritime
Paralympian Hannah Stodel

When life throws a curveball, take a different tack

Paralympian Hannah Stodel impresses WISTA members and HFW delegates with her impressive account of what it takes to be a world-class yacht racer

Four times Paralympian Hannah Stodel, who was born without her right forearm, gave a remarkable account of the journey she has taken to becoming a world champion sailor at a WISTA UK event in London. Stodel has won many medals for her yachting achievements, but at age 33 her journey is far from over and she is currently gearing up for her biggest challenge yet.

Delegates at the event hosted by law firm Holman Fenwick Willan (HFW) in London learned of her ambition to become the first disabled person to compete in the Vendée Globe in November 2020 – an around the world (24,000 miles) non-stop, solo yacht race. “126 people have competed over the years, and only seven are women,” Stodel said, adding that none of them have been disabled. “I want to be the first,” she added

Stodel, whose parents are both keen sailors, started sailing and racing from a young age and found that “it was a way to be like everyone else”.  She was bullied at school and given the nickname ‘Hook’ as her first prosthetic was just that, but through sailing her confidence grew.

Early in her career, Stodel competed in mainstream events, and it took a while for her to view the Paralympics as equal to the Olympics. She was won over by a fellow Paralympic sailor and has since represented the UK, along with team mates Steve Thomas and John Robertson in Athens 2004, Beijing 2008, London 2012 and Rio 2016.

She spoke of the endless training, funding and sponsorships, the embarrassing process of drugs testing (having surprise urine tests at 5 am), and missing out on normal life (Stodel has never been clubbing, for example). All take their toll, but she took a moment to emphasise the impact of having to gain weight in order to secure extra race time. It takes a bold woman to admit that they could not comfortably fit into the Team GB Stella McCartney-designed kit.

Unfortunately, the “Paralympics never worked out” for Stodel and her team, and they always came home without a medal.

But what makes Stodel’s story so remarkable is her belief in the journey as well as the outcome. She quoted Ralph Waldo Emerson: “For everything you have missed, you have gained something else,” and is the mantra on which she acts.

A disqualification in Rio (unfair said Stodel) and the fact that sailing is to be excluded in the Paralympic Games in Tokyo 2020 on the basis that there are not enough teams to compete (32 are needed and only 31 applied) has led Stodel to seek other challenges.

When she first applied to take part in the Vendée Globe, her application was met with cynicism.  But she proved herself a worthy candidate when in 2018 she became the first disable sailor to take part in the Sevenstar Round Britain and Ireland race, coming fourth in her boat class.

Now the Vendée looms, and in 20 months she will “single-handedly, quite literally in my case,” take on the round the world race.

She was asked how she would handle the large 60 ft and she admits to its challenges, speaking of adaptations and modifications to the boat, such as winches operated by her feat, as opposed to hands. She also fears hitting underwater rocks and gear failure.

But despite these challenges, Stodel said that she remains focussed.  “This is me kicking the door in for everyone else to prove it can be done,” she said.

Follow Hannah’s journey here https://www.hannahstodelracing.com/#

‘Imposter Syndrome – Know your worth and stop feeling like a fraud’

Follow-up from our Imposter Syndrome event on February 18th 2019 with speaker Simone Ingram.

‘Imposter Syndrome – Know your worth and stop feeling like a fraud’

What do Sheryl Sandberg, Sonia Sotomayor and Maya Angelou all have in common? They all admit to suffering from Imposter Syndrome.  Even the most capable and talented people, especially women, struggle with having feelings of never being good enough and feeling like a fraud.

Do you think other people are more qualified than you to do your job?  That you’ve just got there by luck or timing?  Believe ‘If I can do it, anybody can’? Agonise over the smallest flaws in your work? When you succeed, do you secretly feel like you fooled everyone again?  Do you fear that it’s only a matter of time before you are ‘found out’?

In Simone’s coaching experience, Imposter Syndrome is really common despite all the external indicators of success; internally individuals can feel it’s a fluke and that one day they’ll be found out.

So if this is a familiar struggle that you identify with, take comfort in the fact you are not alone and here are some tips to help you.

  • Choose to think positive thoughts and challenge negative beliefs
  • Recognise, anticipate and name your imposter feelings – what are your potential triggers?
  • Use your logical brain to reduce feelings of fear and or anxiety
  • Use the power of breathing and adopting a more relaxed and open physical posture, ‘power poses’. The TED Talk by Amy Cuddy shows how the adoption of physical stances can have a positive impact psychologically on you
  • Focus on the elements that you know and believe you are GOOD at

These are just some ways you can manage and reduce your imposter feelings.  What will work for someone may not for another but you CAN change and manage your self-limiting beliefs and body so as to reduce your imposter feelings.  BUT it will take a conscious effort on your part to expand out of your comfort zones to develop new habits and ways of thinking and in turn feelings.  You will need to be patient, persistent and importantly you will need to show yourself some compassion!

Simone Ingram, an Executive Coach from 3E Coaching, with over 20 years international corporate and leadership development experience, coaches leaders and high potential individuals helping them understand and work through challenges they are facing or key decisions they are contemplating, dealing with Imposter Syndrome, a lack of self-confidence and or emotional intelligence; enthusing and empowering them to recognise their full range of talents and capabilities leading to increased confidence, resilience, creativity and adoption of new leadership behaviours. 

If you have any further questions, do please feel free to reach out to Simone.

simone@3ecoaching.co.uk

www.3ecoaching.co.uk

 

Imperial Women’s Network – Innovation in Transport Event
Sue Imperial Women's Group Feb 2019

“Collaboration, capability and culture.” These are the conditions needed to achieve innovation according to John Pelton MBE, Programme Director, Jacobs Consultancy. Speaking at the Imperial Women’s Network Innovation in Transport event (6 Feb 2019), John was discussing the Innovate18, the legacy Crossrail Innovation programme.

John led an engaged audience of alumni, students and guests through several practical exercises in his interactive presentation. He discussed the conditions required for innovation to occur and the inhibitors. Outlining the unique Crossrail approach of innovation teams and champions, John explained how this allowed all individuals working on the project to become their own innovators, leading to a unique collaborative approach. The project provided the strategy and process for managing innovation in mega projects of the future.

Reflecting on the legacy left by Crossrail, John talked about the iP3 programme, a platform forging collaborations across the infrastructure industry ‘helping transform ideas in to opportunities’.

“The barriers to innovation include cost, time, disruption, lack of trust, risk or lack of sponsorship to name but a few. Take these inhibitors away and create an environment where collaboration is universal and innovative solutions and ideas will flourish.”

The audience, which included representatives from the construction, rail and shipping industries, then heard from He-In Cheong, a PhD student at Imperial College London working on integrating modelling platforms. He-In discussed the future of automated transport, which “by 2035+ will be fully machine-led and all humans will be passengers.”

“Currently 90% of all road traffic accidents are caused by human error therefore by removing the need for human control (and emotion) in the future infrastructure systems, transport will be safer and more efficient.” 

He-In and her colleagues at Imperial are looking at the smart cities of the future, designing systems that work with autonomous cars including vertical car parks, to meet the needs of an ever-increasing urban population. “The transport systems of the future will be smarter, more effective and better meet the needs of users. There will be less timetabling of public transport, which is currently very inflexible. The future systems will be reactive, and therefore more efficient.”

Our third guest speaker was Sue Terpilowski OBE, Managing Director, Image Line Communications and President of Women’s International Shipping & Trading Association UK Chapter. Sue began by outlining the ways that the maritime sector is already pushing the boundaries of innovation, for example, the introduction of container ships revolutionised the way that goods and maritime transport took place.

“These are exciting times for the shipping industry and there is lots of opportunities. Although autonomous ships will only account for about 30% of all shipping in the future, there will be many ways we can make ships semi-autonomous. And through great data collection and analysis we can make them more efficient and work better with the oceans’ ecosystems.”

Sue talked about some of the efficiency measures already in place, such as the use of drones to check quay-side maintenance in ports. She also discussed the innovative approach taken by port of Hanover, which rescheduled it shipping timetable to better meet the needs of the city. “Instead of working in silos, which so often happens in shipping – the city and port authorities looked at the overall movement of traffic round the city and port. Using smart technology and a systems thinking approach they identified ways to reduce traffic congestion and pollution in the city.”

The future of shipping will include innovations around; the type of fuel big ships use; increased use of sensors to gather data on weather conditions and logistics to enable enhanced efficiencies; and a greater systems thinking approach, looking at the industry and its impact on ports and cities as a whole, not on isolation. And finally but most importantly Sue believes in addressing the gender parity of the industry.  “STEM is so integral to the future of shipping, that with more women studying these disciplines, the opportunity is greater than ever to address the need for 50/50 split workforce and ensure a gender balance.”

Our thanks to alumna Salma Suleyman (Mechanical Engineering MENg 2011), a rail systems engineering manager with Jacobs for organising this event.

The Imperial Women’s Network welcomes alumni from Imperial College London, and friends interested in advancing women’s leadership in business. They host several event thorough the year.

WISTA UK Diwali in the city event
WISTA UK diwali in the city event

The WISTA UK Diwali in the city event and talk about the festival of lights. Which brought together #womenwhomovetheworld #womenleaders and supporters (Kevin Cooper and Roberto Peroni ). Always a delight to bring together friends and celebrate all together. Thank you all for coming and happy Diwali!

And a big thank you to Monica Kohli Senior Lawyer from Gard for organising it for WISTA UK

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