• Mary Ward

Why I'm excited to join the CIA

I’m coming to work with the Collective Impact Agency (CIA) next month, and I can’t wait, but it’s an unusual excitement. Usually, when you start a new job, it’s the promotion or the pay rise or the increase in responsibility that has you excited, and that’s all mixed up with the apprehension of not knowing the people who you’ll be working with and the uncertainty that goes with all that. But here, I know you all well already. And while the work I’ll be doing is itself personally motivating, knowing you all and having good relationships with you already is what has me excited. (Having worked previously in recruitment, this has really made me question how we do recruitment).

The relationships I already have with you (Andy and Abby and Anya) make me feel secure. These relationships create the safety for me to step into something uncertain and not just a little intimidating. I trust the people who will be around me because I’ve gotten to know you already. And if I didn’t know you already, I don’t know if I’d have taken the job.

Having built connections with you already, I’ve come to like you for who you are as people, as well as respecting you for what you bring to the work. We’ve created bonds that allow us to strongly (and sometimes even painfully) disagree with each other without it damaging the relationships. I feel we already have this type of relationship, and that allows me to feel comfortable, which also means that the company will get the best from me.

I’m aware that there is always a variety of perspectives and personalities in any room. As an extrovert, I used to take pride in being someone who always ‘said what they think’. I thought it made me straightforward and honest. I now realise it’s not as simple as that, and you can’t always just splurge an opinion out without it potentially having a negative impact on others in the room. However, the journey I’ve been on to develop this understanding has been an uncomfortable and anxious one. Knowing that by speaking my mind I may be hurting someone knocked my confidence in who I was. This has gradually been rebuilt through safe relationships like the ones I know have with you all at CIA

I have developed good relationships with you much faster than I would normally. It’s taken me years previously to get where we are now in mere months. You make me feel I can be myself when I come to work with CIA. I find I tend to hold myself in check a lot at work. In the past, I have been described as ‘confrontational,’ ‘aggressive,’ and ‘an alpha female.’ I think there’s a belief that if a person is confident, it’s more acceptable to barrel criticism at them. I think the reality is it can knock your confidence even worse. I have never felt this sort of criticism at CIA. In fact, it’s just the opposite – the qualities I possess for which women are usually punished are actually celebrated in me at CIA.

When I was offered the role, I would have jumped straight into it because of my instinctive feel about the people I’d be working with. I find that realisation a little frightening because the normal systems of ‘how we should live our lives’ tell us that taking a job because you like the people is foolhardy. “You should take a job because of the pay or the status or the responsibility, etc.” We’re all conditioned to think this way. We’re not conditioned to think “I want to work with these people because they’re really cool” – that somehow seems too risky. But the ‘normal’ approach means we often land in a job where we actually can’t stand the people we’re working with – and we rarely stick those jobs out for long. If you start a job without knowing the people, that’s where the risk lies. So often, they turn out to be absolute dicks.

I’m going to work in a place where it feels like if I don’t go to work there, the people will beg me to join them. I’m not saying that they’d actually do that – I’m saying that this is how the relationships I have with you make me feel. And it’s a wonderful feeling. I think CIA is a very exciting company that does things differently and genuinely thinks about things differently – but this is not the point for me and not why I’m coming to work with you. It’s about the people. I trust you and I feel you are the right people for me to work with. And I can’t wait.

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