Daphne Saxelby on International Women's Day


To celebrate International Women’s Day, we sat down with our Executive Leadership Team to ask what embracing equity means to them.

Can you introduce yourself and tell us a little bit about your role at Futures? 

My name is Daphne Saxelby and I’m the Associate Director of Excellence at Futures. My passion is customer service, customer satisfaction and everybody having a great experience with us. 

As a member of the Executive Leadership Team, the most important thing to me as an employee and as an employer is that everyone is having a great experience from Futures. So, my role is there to ensure everybody - colleagues, staff, all our stakeholders - are working in ways which ensure that happens. 

Can you give us a quick overview of your career journey so far? 

I’ve been in the Further Education sector for a number of years, but it’s actually my third career. I had a little flirt with hospitality and then spent 25 years in finance working for a corporate bank. It was there in corporate banking that the seeds were sown that I wanted to get involved with developing people and supporting people to be the best they can. 

So when I left there, I went into teaching and took my teaching qualifications, and at a very mature age I stood on stage and had my graduation. That led to various management positions in various training companies and eventually led me to Futures.

How does it feel for you to be a woman in leadership? 

I feel proud. I feel honoured. Sometimes I look back at the experiences I've had with other managers, male and female, that have not necessarily given me a great time. So, I do reflect on that. I've learned a lot of how to be a manager, and I think I bring my own personality, values and ethics into the role.  

I think about how I can be more to my colleagues, my team, than perhaps other managers have been to me in the past. That said, I've had some great managers and they're the people I try to emulate, and I hope that I set a good example and inspire and influence other people to be the same. 

What changes do you hope to see in the future for women to continue being successful in leadership positions? 

There was a phrase I came across recently in an article, it was headed up as “soft leadership skills” and when I read it I was quite attracted to it because I could recognise myself in there. But it’s not a great phrase, being a “soft” leader. So, if I could say something about change, it may be to recognise that being caring, being kind, being empathetic, seeking to be the best for your colleague, as well as for them to be the best for you, would be something that would be a great way forward for women and men in leadership.   

The theme of this year’s International Women’s Day is Embracing Equity – what does that mean to you? 

I think we demonstrate it as an ELT. For me personally, it reflects that everybody is different, everybody brings different experiences, skills and strengths to the table and it's about respecting that. It means making the most of our differences and looking at situations as a group rather than just from one individual pair of eyes.  

Respect would be the biggest part of that, and it’s respecting those individual strengths and here at Futures, that’s what we are doing as a leadership team. Yes, we are all women, but we are five very different women that all bring different experiences and strengths. That’s what makes us united and as strong as we are.