Dr Susan Doering | 40 Outstanding Global Women 2023
Dr Susan Doering is an Executive Trainer and Coach who specialises in helping professional women to make transitional career changes that will help them to flourish.
Here she gives her insights into they key to successful female leadership and offers useful tips for women at a career crossroads. Dr Doering is one of the inspirational leaders we are celebrating for International Women’s Day 2023.
“Self-confidence is a big topic. It’s about reminding yourself of the moments in the past when you have done something out of your comfort zone and succeeded,”
Dr Susan Doering, Executive Trainer/Coach
How to handle Career Crossroads
For many women, there comes a time in their career where they reach a crossroads and have to decide whether they want to pursue promotional opportunities with their current employer, move to a new job, or perhaps leave and set up their own company. Since the pandemic, many women, and men, have been questioning their work-life balance and how their career could fit with family life and interests outside work, as well as the meaning and purpose of work itself.
Dr Susan Doering, Executive Trainer and Coach, believes that many women would like to push on to the next stage of their career, but lack the route map or support from their employer to do so. As a result, some talented women leave organisations at a time when their experience and seniority will be missed.
Certified as a coach since 2006, Dr Doering coaches corporate and private clients at turning points to find the best way forward. Fluent in English, German, and French, she has worked internationally and understands the demands and specific difficulties of negotiating overseas assignments. She holds a Masters’ degree from the University of Oxford and a PhD from the University of Vienna, Austria. Her clients come from corporate and private and public sector organisations globally.
What is needed to grow into leadership roles
Finding self-confidence, understanding negotiating skills and taking a clear focus on what you want out of your career and how you want to progress are all building blocks of the coaching that she offers. She is also particularly interested in helping women grow into leadership roles.
“The qualities that are ingrained in women and have been emphasised in women’s development – empathy, understanding the other person, putting yourself in the other person’s shoes, finding solutions – are so important and have become even more so in this hybrid working world,” she says.
“I work with women who want to move into leadership but who want to stay with the organisation and be successful and use their strengths. We can’t all be entrepreneurs and not everyone wants to leave and set up on their own, and many people want the support of an organisation.
“It is about recognising options and choices that you have, getting sponsors within the organisation, finding a mentor and perhaps working with a career coach.
“You need to gather information and you need to do it at every point of your career. Even right at the very beginning, as soon as you move into an organisation, ask yourself:
- What is the organisation going to offer me as a woman in my career?
- Is this the right place for me?
- Where’s the mentor in my organisation or do I have to look outside for support and promotion?”
Women in leadership – still a long way to go
On average, still only 25-30% of leadership roles in the UK are held by women. Although the reasons for this are partly systemic, they are often reinforced by patterns of behaviour that are unhelpful for women’s career progression, Susan says.
When facing a crossroads, women often shy away from making big decisions or applying for next level and top jobs, even when they are highly qualified and extremely suitable. In addition, many women have become dissatisfied with the corporate world and are seeking new ventures, to go it alone, for example, and are asking how they could manage this. With coaching, my women clients discovered that through careful preparation and planning they felt more self-confident and ready to take on the challenges of a career move and could settle more easily into the new role.
Dr Doering’s own career has had three phases: as an academic, as a project manager running international assignments and as a coach.
She cites the example of a high-achieving lawyer whom she helped coach to negotiating a two-year maternity leave, and international clients who need support around moving to a new geography, managing a new team and working with managers and employees from different cultures and countries.
“Self-confidence is a big topic. It’s about reminding yourself of the moments in the past when you have done something out of your comfort zone and succeeded,” she says. “With more agile working, joining new teams and more project-based work, this could really benefit women.
“I have worked with a lot of women in international organisations where moving globally is a prerequisite. You’ve got to learn how to have the right mindset, be flexible and be prepared for things not to go right.”
Dr Doering’s tips for women at a career crossroads
Be confident in yourself and your abilities
Look very clearly at where you want to go
Stop for a moment and think what brings you joy in your job and in your life
Where do your interests really lie?
What do you value in life? What’s most important to you?
What needs to change?
Would it mean perhaps just a few adjustments in your current work life? Or is it going to take much more, moving to a different job, or a leap to a different way of working?
Women must navigate the transitional stages of their career
Dr Doering’s new book Smart Career Moves for Smart Women, has been written for the businesswoman and professional, and offers insights and guidance on making the right decisions about career paths and ways to strategically prepare for a career transition, be it a promotion, change of sector, setting up one’s own business or even changing careers altogether.
The insights and actionable steps contained in this book make it an invaluable resource for professional women looking to achieve success and navigate the transitional stages of their career, re-enter the workplace after a career break, or who simply want to develop the tools and skills to make smart career moves.
“My own experience changing career and then working with women as a career coach showed me that women need extra support and guidelines to navigate the world of work, especially when facing a career move of whatever kind,” she says. “Having experienced the value of coaching with a focus on these transition points with my clients I wanted to spread the word and reach a wider audience. The women I coached who developed the self-confidence to make their way forward are my inspiration for the book.”
“International Women’s Day is very important to me,” she says. “International Women’s Day gives us the opportunity once a year to be inspired by the achievements of outstanding women and take stock of the progress that has been made, but also shows us what still needs to be accomplished. We are reminded that we have still not achieved equality with men in so many areas of life and so many parts of the world and that we need to continue to fight for it. It’s also vital that men feel included in the fight. It is a day for celebration and for reflection.”
For more information about our celebration of International Women’s Day, see our Think Women agenda for the day.