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Transcript: Episode 4 – Lynne Ridsdale
Vic T – Host: 00:00
This is the Strong Manchester Women podcast, a series of inspiring conversations with the change makers, activists, leaders and trailblazers who make our city and beyond a better place to live and play. Now, Manchester has a history of very strong women, women who are forces to be reckoned with, women who push the envelope, start movements, smash glass ceilings, stand up for their rights and turn the wheels of progress. So join me. your host Vic Elizabeth Turnbull as I speak to these women, women who you may not have heard of before, the underground heroes who are changing lives and making a lasting impact in our communities.
Vic T – Host: 01:11 In this episode you’ll hear from,
Lynne Ridsdale: 01:14 Hi, I’m Lynne Ridsdale. I’m currently deputy chief Exec at Bury Council. I’m a mom, I’ve got two fab kids and I’ve got my mum who is my best friend.
Vic T – Host: 01:28 and we talk about self belief.
Lynne Ridsdale: 01:29 I talk to myself and when I’m having a hard time, I tell them myself out loud, “you can do this”.
Vic T – Host: 01:35 Changing careers.
Lynne Ridsdale: 01:37 I was in a job that involved a lot of moving around and didn’t think that that would be compatible with being a mom.
Vic T – Host: 01:43 Public personas.
Lynne Ridsdale: 01:45 It is almost a 24/7 responsibility really.
Vic T – Host: 01:48 and lots more.
Vic T – Host: 01:53 So do you consider yourself a role model?
Lynne Ridsdale: 01:55
I didn’t. Most definitely didn’t. I am not the sort of person that thinks of myself like that at all. But in the last couple of jobs that I’ve had, some of the highlights of my life have been actually when I left and people have spoken to me afterwards and just said the difference that I’d made and it wasn’t the work stuff. Usually it was the support, it was the advice and the encouragement and yeah, and some of the role modelling that they said, it made the difference and it made them go on to think differently about themselves and do different things. And it really made me realise the difference that we all make, whoever we are, everybody has a circle of influence. And I think sometimes it’s just remembering that and the impact that you do make good and bad.
Lynne Ridsdale: 02:34
And I think as well as trying to be positive and to use this year to help other people really positively. It’s also made me realise the impact I have when I’m grumpy or I’m having a bad day. And I think sometimes being aware of the impact there are as well is useful and being a bit more thoughtful around some of the bad days. You can’t see this because it’s on mic, but no, I don’t have a poker face. And I know one of the worst things is that if I’m grumpy, I really see it I’ve also had people now point out to me that that has a real impact, especially when you’re in a senior role at work as well. And you need to remember that your, your bad day is seen by other people who will then instantly interpret that it’s about them or something they’ve said or done.
Lynne Ridsdale: 03:13
And it’s never intended to be that. It’ll just because I’m too busy or too tired or whatever. But I know that it does have that effect. So I try not to do that anymore. And if I’m really grumpy, I tried to take myself off somewhere. I think being mindful that, that that is almost a 24/ 7 responsibility really. I think within public service as well, you have the day job, but actually you, wherever you’re interacting, whether it’s social media stuff, whether it’s you know, around at the weekend, it’s important I think to remember that yeah, you have that impact all the time, wherever you are. It’s made me more happy because I think it’s made me very… It has made me proud of myself. It’s made me proud of what I’ve achieved because I’ve realised that I have ended up in a position of influence that I didn’t ever think I would achieve.
Lynne Ridsdale: 03:57
I think it’s an immense privilege and that has, yes, it has made me happier, but it’s also a bit of a burden sometimes as well to know that you almost don’t get any time off because people do know who you are and look up to you. So yesterday I was travelling to work and I was in a really busy tram queue and bumped into somebody, and I was just talking about the tram and then she said to me, “you’re Lynne, aren’t you?” and I was like “Oh yeah, who are you?” And she recognised me from my days at Manchester City Council and some of the stuff, briefing events, which is brilliant, but it does make you realise, you never know who you’re gonna bump into. And I think as women, the opportunity, the network is there to support each other, but you’ve also got to remember it’s always there as well. So just look after it.
Vic T – Host: 04:38 You’ve not always worked in local authority have you?
Lynne Ridsdale: 04:41
Nope, I started out in the private sector, so I did my first few years, well actually I spent my first summer job working at Buckingham Palace, which was great fun. But I started out in Capita on their graduate training programme. So I did a few hard years in the, in the private sector selling services into the public sector. Then decided I wanted to be part of it, not selling into it. So moved across to local government. And I’ve also done a couple of years in the civil service as well. It was a move fairly early on in my career and it was partly, it was a life choice because we wanted to move nearer to…. Uh, we got married, wanted to move nearer the family because we wanted to have a family. And also I was in a job that involved a lot of moving around and didn’t think that that would be compatible with being a mum. So interestingly, you know, had to rethink my career plans to be able to do both. So it was partly the right career move and partly putting home first for a bit.
Vic T – Host: 05:36 That’s a really interesting angle as well. That progression, that you can actually leave your corporate job to be a mom and you can actually, you can actually survive.
Lynne Ridsdale: 05:49
Yeah. It’s really interesting because I think some of that I screwed up when I became pregnant with our child. I completely freaked out about it. Um, because whilst it was an intention, it was very early on and came a bit sooner than we had anticipated. I had just got promoted, had a complete panic attack because I thought that my boss would go crazy and that I couldn’t fulfil my work responsibilities and all my priorities completely jumbled up and panicked about being able to do the job and letting them down, which is how I felt and panicked about whether I could even be a mum, had a horrendous pregnancy, didn’t really enjoy my little boy when he was a baby. And it took me, I would say, you know, a good few years before I realised how wrong I had got that and how upside down my priorities were. I just didn’t think I could do both and was freaking out about whether I could do this whole mum thing.
Lynne Ridsdale: 06:42
Looking back now, that was an absolute nonsense. But I think my experience is that there still isn’t enough out there that talks around supporting moms in the workplace. it is absolutely a reality and I think it’s one of the strengths of public sector certainly because my experience there is that it’s very real. But I also think it’s within our grasp to force the issue and to take hold of it and to make sure that we can manage both. I think things would probably moved on a bit since that happened, but nevertheless, my fear of, and in a sense that work came first, was wrong and, and completely unfounded. But I think my bigger fear is whether I could be a mum. And what it’s really taught me is that the depths that we all have and who we really are. And sometimes you don’t know until you really push yourself.
Lynne Ridsdale: 07:25
I’ve realised that everybody’s a mum in their own way and probably I was expecting I should be able to do some particular things and whatever I perceived them to be. And actually we’re all the mum that we are and you do your best and it’s wonderful and you, you actually, you are capable and you can do it with all of that wisdom. We went on and we had our little girl five years later and I had a completely different experience cause I’ve just really enjoyed it and just gone with it and work has fitted into it all. I’ve made it work cause you have to be able to do both, but it hasn’t been a problem.
Vic T – Host: 07:57 And so thinking about the point when you were pregnant with your little boy to then looking at yourself now as deputy chief executive of Bury council, what would you say to your pregnant self?
Lynne Ridsdale: 08:11
I would say enjoy it. I would say you absolutely can do it. You’ll do it in your own way. But it’s, it’s a privilege. It’s a pleasure. It’s the most important thing and every, everything works its way through. Don’t feel you’ve got to do everything at 100% all at once. Everything is give and take. And the opportunity now is to be a mum now and enjoy that. And then once you, you’re able to then get back on the horse with work and make it work for you, make it that you can do both. And if you find that you can’t do both where you are then go somewhere else and know that you’re good enough to be able to do that. I think all of this is about in a confidence and belief, but that sense of self and the sense of priorities. Follow your heart really and do what’s important and find the place in the world that can allow you to do that. Then you’ll be successful. Love yourself, be proud of yourself. Don’t expect others to do it for you because you are the most important thing. You and your family
Vic T – Host: 09:14 Self belief. Two words that you will hear again and again throughout the Strong Manchester Women podcast episodes. I wonder if Lynne’s self belief has always been there and how she’s developed it over time.
Lynne Ridsdale: 09:32
I’m so passionate about that. That’s probably one of my biggest lessons as an adult really and the biggest things I that I think I’m self taught around. I was brought up by a brilliant family, but one that was very demanding of me and very pushy around really what the world expected and what I should be looking to achieve. But there was nothing around self within that. And I think as I’ve got older and been through some, you know as you go through the rough times, you realise the only person that can get you through it is you. You have to look after yourself. You’ve got to put yourself first, you’ve got to know yourself. If you know yourself and you know your strengths, but you know your limitations you can navigate through. I think I consciously look after myself and it makes a huge difference. I know, I think I know my strengths, I know my weaknesses.
Lynne Ridsdale: 10:17
I know me on a bad day. I know the things that will frighten me. My mom laughs at me, but I tell her, I talked to myself and when I’m having a hard time, I tell myself out loud, ‘you can do this’, ‘you need to do these things and you’ll get through it’. And when I’ve done it, I say out loud, ‘you did really well there Lynne’, and that sounds so weird, like some psychopath, but actually I do believe your brain listens to what it hears and sometimes I think you have to say out loud. Equally, I know when when I’m low, I know what I need to do. I know I need my sleep, I know I need food and I literally like I’m a third person, force myself to do that. Ultimately you come in and out of this world by yourself. You’ve got to look after you as a best friend would do.
Vic T – Host: 10:57 Yeah. It’s a known personal development technique to help re-programme your brain. Is there any other ways you make sure you look after yourself.
Lynne Ridsdale: 11:05
I think it’s a very personal thing. You know? Some people need to be really hugely socially connected. I know I’m naturally an introvert and my, my job takes it out of me to have to be the front person the whole time and you know out there collaborating and being the one. I find that quite hard and I know sometimes I just need to go home and be really quiet. No more words. Pyjamas on, doors locked, just restore my energy. That works for me. Everybody’s different. A big part of what makes us all successful is knowing what works for you and making sure you invest the time and you still have to do it.
Vic T – Host: 11:39 Yeah. There’s nothing like hearing from a fellow introvert. The delight of going home, not speaking to anybody else, taking your bra off…
Lynne Ridsdale: 11:53 (laughs) It’s so true!
Vic T – Host: 11:53 You know, people might think you’re a bit anti social.
Lynne Ridsdale: 11:59 No, it’s just who I am.
Vic T – Host: 12:04 Let’s revisit little Lynne. When you’re were at school, did you aspire to work in the corporate…. did you want an office job?
Lynne Ridsdale: 12:16
Well, in school I was a bit of nobody. I was a bit of a geek. I was never one the cool kids. I kept my head down. I didn’t have a bad school life particularly. I had a small number of good friends. I was happy enough. There was a big pressure of expectation, particularly from my dad who was a blue collar worker. That had hugely underachieved cause he’d never been advised. So was constantly pushing me around these, ‘if I had known now what I knew then, you know,’ sorry, the way around. So he, he pushed me really hard. So it was all about achievement and I was very solid and very studious to do that. But I didn’t really know what I wanted to do other than my dad saying that, you know, you have to be a professional, you have to have a profession of some sort.
Lynne Ridsdale: 12:59
It was very traditional. When I went to university, again, my parents weren’t, neither of them were uni graduates. They weren’t really that able to advise me. So they let me just pick in a way that I would never, never let my kids just go and pick. So I went to Aberystwyth, which is a random place to go. I read English lit, which I loved, but was no use to my future career. But in the course I met one of the people that shaped my life. She was a friend who was also on the same course. She didn’t know what she wanted to do, but she wanted to have a good job and work in an office. So together we worked out how the milk round works and got hold of all corporate literature and got ourselves on the process of graduate interviews.
Lynne Ridsdale: 13:39
And I think if I hadn’t met her, I probably wouldn’t have thought about how to do it. So things changed from that point of view and I realised the right… How to get into the professions that my dad wanted me to hit. So went for a huge number of interviews had a summer partying and that probably brought me alive, the geek came out of her closet a bit. Yeah. And landed in Capita cause that was the one that felt right out of them all. And then I think from that point then slowly I think found who I was once I’d left home and started working and exploring a bit more and found different influences and number of whom then became managers at work who ultimately became mentors. Really a number of whom were female. Certainly the first two were senior managers who were female and who absolutely gave me direction. Yeah. And then I picked up and ran with it.
Vic T – Host: 14:29 What sort of direction to do what, what really helped you, what did those women give you that helped?
Lynne Ridsdale: 14:35
I think the first one gave me confidence and kind of front, so I worked for her, but she gave me…I think some of the style I picked up from her. She was an extrovert. She was very engaging. She was, you know, very snappy. She took me away from my geeky self that would keep the head down and she gave me a clue I suppose. She didn’t give me the confidence, but when she started showing me how it was done and then my second mentor I think gave me the technical foundation. So I went to the consultancy practice in Capita and worked for the person running the HR consultancy division. And she gave me that professional direction. It was through her that I did find a profession because as a result of that, I then went and studied for my CIPD qualification and got my accreditation that has become my profession. I think my biggest shapers was definitely my dad for the drive were the mentors that I met along the way. And then I think myself.
Lynne Ridsdale: 15:34
So things happened about 10 years ago, I lost my dad. Things were really terrible and a lot of things were very bad at that time and lots of people looked to me to find a way through at a time when I thought, I can’t see a way through this. But then I realised somebody had to take control and sort things out. And that had to be me because there’s nobody else around. So I had a word with myself and that’s when talking to myself started and I thought, you know what? ‘You can do this, you will do this because it has to be done’. ‘Pick yourself up girl and do it’. And I did and then I realised that I was capable and it was a new brand of leadership I suppose. And I knew I was making a difference and I was helping people through it.
Lynne Ridsdale: 16:13 But more than that was helping myself through it. We worked things through as a family and things worked out. And then around that same time, then I moved on professionally. I’d been in one place for a long time and I think that started to affect my confidence and I made a couple of professional moves, massively expanded my network, met some great new people and started then to get much more reinforcement around the differences that I was told I was making by supporting and helping them and giving them some of the advice that I think I’d started to feel I could give by that point. And the world felt like a very different place.
Vic T – Host: 16:45 What I find really interesting from this, is how Lynne’s personal experiences help to shape her professional communications, interactions. Her professional life. I want to know what Lynn thinks of this.
Lynne Ridsdale: 17:03
I think there is a massive overlap and I think some of that is something to recognise that the two lives do compliment each other to an extent and the learning that you have in one part of your life, you can transfer over. The leader I am today is shaped by becoming a mum. I tell everybody that my brand is tough love and this whole, absolute clarity of what you expect and consistency around standards and expectations and being clear, but then being supportive and enabling and coaching people along the way, but being very clear that there are some fixed points. I know it’s how I try to be at home and very much as has helped me think that in working life it’s hard being a manager, but actually it’s the same skill set. It’s the same principles.
Vic T – Host: 17:44 Yeah, there’s transferable skills everywhere isn’t there?
Vic T – Host: 17:45 You’re Greater Manchester born and bred lady. Could you see yourself doing what you’re doing now anywhere else. Is there something about Manchester, Greater Manchester?
Lynne Ridsdale: 17:56
Yes there is. When I moved to the civil service, the intention was to move sector and stay, but it was obvious that to do that would have required a move, because most of the jobs were in London and we could have moved and we chose not to because we wanted to stay. So I know there is something about GM because we wouldn’t want to live anywhere else. And I think some of that is just the place, is the fact that it’s all so well connected, that we’ve got so much brilliant green space, as well as the towns and the industry around it. But I do think it’s also, it’s a vibe, it’s pride, it’s aspiration. And that definitely starts in the city.
Lynne Ridsdale: 18:34
And the connections with suffrage are so real and tangible today. Over Christmas I took my mom to see a concert at the arena and we stayed in town and we walked back past the Pankhurst statue, which had just been unveiled and it was the most special moment. It was about midnight and the moonlight was on it and we stood together and paid our respect. Likewise when the statue was unveiled, I remember I was in work and the noise that came through the city when everybody marched towards it and it just gives me goosebumps now thinking about it, you know, it wasn’t that long ago and you think what they fought for and now where we are, but the pride that sits around it and the determination to keep pushing boundaries as well. I know on paper that happens throughout the country, but I think you feel the difference in Manchester.
Lynne Ridsdale: 19:21 You feel that so much of this started here and will continue. It’s come from here and it’s not just in in the city, it’s out there in the districts as well. So over in Bury at the moment when I look around at the strength of place, of community, of identity, it’s really real and in a way that I don’t, I believe you see in other regions.
Vic T – Host: 19:40 So, who are your Strong Manchester Women?
Lynne Ridsdale: 19:42
I’d like to highlight a couple of people from Manchester City Council. Some of the people involved in this campaign, Sofia Higgins, who’s organised all of this. She herself just embodies all that is great about it. She believes in it. She’s leading the networks. She’s the face behind the scenes. She’s not fronting herself in a way that she should, but she is the one that is is spotting as all, she’s the talent spots and she’s the energy to really push this hard and I think she’s an inspiration. She’s so understated. Also, Shawnna Gleeson who was one of my deputies in the city council, she lives in Greater Manchester but is hugely passionate about the place and is bringing her daughter up to be very much having a sense of identity. It’s something we talk about a lot and I think Sharmila Kar as well who is on the campaign. She’s a real advocate for change for equality. It absolutely runs through her. She’s another person in quite a powerful position with her job, but I think it’s a position she uses really responsibly. She takes every opportunity she can to push for change.
Lynne Ridsdale: 20:50 They’ll be loads of people who are deeply offended that they didn’t get a mention
Vic T – Host: 20:58 Yeah, I think they’ll understand. As we draw the interview to a close, I wanted to hear from Lynne to see if she had any further words of wisdom for you.
Lynne Ridsdale: 21:08
Knowing that we all have the circle of influence around us that we don’t often realise or recognise our value and the difference that we make in our interactions and our relationships has such a huge impact, good or bad on other people. By recognising everybody that you meet, every conversation, every way you express yourself really will affects somebody else good or bad, and being thoughtful in how you do that and taking every opportunity to do a good deed and to help be helpful and to give somebody a leg up and to offer some support, but equally, you know, a bit like me with my grumpy face knowing that sometimes if it’s not a good day, then that can have quite an unintended consequence sometimes and just being aware of that and trying to mitigate it or put it right if that happens. It’s not just all about people in posters or people in positions of authority. It’s genuinely around the way that we all treat each other and I think if everybody were a bit more thoughtful about that, the difference that we could make collectively would be really powerful.
Vic T – Host: 22:20
This podcast is inspired by the annual strong Manchester women campaign. The campaign celebrates the achievements and impact of a bunch of incredible women doing brilliant things. The 14 women profiled in this series were selected for the 2019 campaign. To find out more about all of the women featured in this podcast, and the campaign, visit PankhurstTrust dot org. To find out what Lynne’s up to at Bury Council, she’s on Twitter, follow her @LynneRidsdale. We’d also love to hear what you think about stories that we’ve shared with you. Who are your strong Manchester Women? Anything connect with us on Twitter using the Hashtag Strong MCR Women. Big thanks to Manchester City Council and the Pankhurst Trust for supporting this podcast series and a big thanks to Lynne for her time. The Strong Manchester Women podcast is a MIC media production and is presented, purchased and edited by me, Vic Elizabeth Turnbull. For more information. Visit MIC Media dot co dot uk. The podcast is being made possible through the Centenary City’s Legacy Fund.
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