Polar explorer addresses Making Reward Personal audience on balancing career, family and adventure

Julie Ashmore

Intrepid explorer Julie Ashmore (conqueror of both the North and South Pole) – and also self-confessed ‘working mum’, kicked off Reward’s ‘Making Reward Personal’ conference by urging delegates to accommodate their staffs’ goals – whatever they might be.

Ashmore, who is also HSBC’s head of SME lending, said staff often feel they come to work ‘cap in hand’ rather than be brave enough to demand what they feel is necessary for them.

 “At my interview for HSBC I made it absolutely clear what I felt I needed,” she said. “I didn’t go in apologetically. It’s really important employees aren’t made to feel apologetic.”

Ashmore has skied to both poles, but managed to fit this in around her job, and raising her two children. She says employees should be made to feel like they can ‘sur-thrive’ rather than just ‘survive’.

“Sur-thriving is about allowing staff be who they want to be,” she says. “Employees always have feelings of guilt about pursuing their goals, but if there’s one thing I always say, it is that they shouldn’t.”

She added: “There’s no positive purpose having guilt. We should just get on. I found that unless you are careful, there will always be people at work who prey on your guilt. These are the people we must avoid. Have selective hearing!”

Ashmore said: “It’s easy for people to stay focused on juggling work, and life, but if staff just focus on this they’ll never have the chance to take stock and be the best of who they are.” She concluded: “We are all far more capable than we believe. We shouldn’t be held back. Focusing on the things that stop you will only mean people will never achieve their goals.”