Glass ceilings are made to be broken

Breaking the glass ceiling is just one out of a list of accomplishments achieved by women’s leadership and performance expert Eula Clarke.

Eula has spent over 40 years in the finance sector. She began her career in banking, working on the counter, getting fresh clients, and engaging with the community. Both her skills and confidence enabled her to progress into a managerial position. While working in the bank, Eula used her creativity to create a customer service unit further strengthening her customer relations skills.

As well as working in the corporate world, Eula has put her talents to good use by working on a range of community projects. She set up a Dragons Den for kids in Golders Green and was part of many community fundraisers to help feed the homeless. Throughout her community work, she has had to liaise with different minority groups to get a firm understanding of local councils. These included the Jewish community in Golders Green and the Asian community in Wembley and Neasden. These connections enabled her to participate in fundraising and events at the Neasden temple.

Eula is the founder of Clarke and Associated Ltd which is a consultancy aimed at professional women who want to break the glass ceiling in corporate industries.

We recently had a chat to discuss her career journey and plans for future ventures. 

1. When working in male-dominated industries, how did you remain confident enough to succeed as a minority? Was it confidence/determination you already had instilled in you or did you have to nurture it consciously?  

I’ve always had confidence. My dad taught me that the biggest key to success was an education I just needed to believe in myself. When I started work I still had to develop myself. I had mentors, mentors for business and peer to peer mentors to attract similarities. As a tip I’d say make sure you can reach out to people who are at higher levels. Set goals, self reflect, take a note of where you are and what you need to do for yourself. Ask yourself, how are you going to help your organisation grow, performance goals, and critical actions behind that. That progresses your confidence. The more you get involved and people buy into you, the more you will grow.

2. Did you focus your efforts on becoming a successful Black Woman so you can represent and inspire others, or was it more about becoming a success in your roles? 

Colour was not the forefront of my mission. I’m all about inclusion, so race doesn’t come into it. I ran a Women’s workshop which was endorsed by Theresa May, and I asked what the glass ceiling was. All of the ladies shared their experiences, and it was a great space for collaborating and support. We are trying to climb the ladder but without the support we can not do it. The key to making it happen is yourself, and I wanted to be successful for myself. Colour was not a factor. It was about helping young ladies and showing them that the 9-5 grind is not all there is to life.

3. You are part of the wind rush generation, do you think your Jamaican upbringing played a role in the success you have had in your career?

Yes, I’d say my childhood provided the foundation for how I’ve navigated through life. I had strong discipline whilst growing up, so I’ve always had that sort of structure in my life. I wasn’t allowed to stray or wander the streets I had to be at school because my dad was all about education.

4. What advice would you give women who want to have an impact in male-dominated industries? 

First, I’d say to get a mentor and coach and align yourself with them to learn the tricks of the trade. Make a plan for yourself to do a better job than they are doing now. Secondly, I’d say to do a lot of reading. Knowledge is power, and the more you know, the higher you’ll go. Thirdly, I’d say to go to events and make yourself known so that you can engage with different people, across sectors and forge meaningful relationships. And lastly, align yourself with professional women and go in with a listening ear. There are so many women’s networking groups don’t be afraid to join one. Power comes in numbers, and we all need to help each other if we want to get ahead.

Eula’s entrepreneurial career goes far and beyond, and she has recently ventured out into other industries. Becoming a practitioner in natural medicine has allowed her to help people with their health. As the CEO of Clarkes Health, she provides everything from amazing detox teas to an organic range of products. While educating people on the importance of health, she has managed to stick to her core value of building meaningful relationships.

“Everything about being an entrepreneur is relationship building people buy your products and services because of you. How you make people feel is your number one value.”  

Working in a male-dominated industry does not come without challenges. Rising above those challenges is what makes women like Eula an inspirational role model.

By Jasmin A-Duah

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