Molly Bedingfield is founder and CEO of Global Angels, an international charity transforming disadvantaged communities around the world. With over 25 years’ experience of working in the charity sector and as a professional coach, Molly is a passionate advocate for mentoring and speaking up for others that may otherwise struggle to be heard. We talk to Molly about what inspires her and what it takes to be a great leader.
What inspired you to set up Global Angels?
After working with various international charities over a number of years, it became clear to me that there was a growing disillusionment with the sector; people had begun to lose faith and charities needed a new operation model to revive it. Having seen the needs of some of the most disadvantaged communities around the world, I felt very strongly that I wanted to be that change maker – I had a platform I could use to do more.
It was this realisation that led me to found my own charity, Global Angels, and introduce the 100% promise, which guarantees that every penny received from public donations goes directly to providing tangible on-the-ground resources, including water wells, classroom buildings and medical clinics.
When it came to setting up Global Angels, my children were a huge source of inspiration and a fantastic support. Their belief in me was incredibly important – it gave me the impetus and courage to act on my passion. Similarly, I had a strong support network comprising both personal and professional relationships.
What was it that motivated you to empower women in Africa?
Visiting Kenya in 2013 was a truly life changing experience. Seeing the local water supplies drying up and the miles women were traveling just to get a small amount of water for their families was very moving. In particular, meeting Mama Mercy, one of the leaders in the community, was incredibly powerful. Hearing her speak about her deep love and passion for her community and desire to help her community really inspired me and I felt determined to help her to help others.
What have you learned about entrepreneurship and leadership?
I think we’re living in a unique time in history where women's voices are increasingly being encouraged and heard. As a result, we’re undergoing a fundamental shift in our approach to leadership. As the new generation emerges, we’re seeing a flatter management style, where collaborative working is preferred over pushing from above. For me, this is a great opportunity, for women in particular as it offers a much wider scope for defining successful leadership.
At an earlier stage in my career, I felt that success and career progression could only be achieved if I shaped myself into a certain mould and I spent a lot of energy conforming to that pressure. However, I’ve since learnt that being myself is far more powerful, enabling me to deliver a greater impact and achieve far more job satisfaction. This is why I love being an entrepreneur; it gives me the opportunity to facilitate change and champion others. It’s a great privilege and I feel very lucky to be able to work alongside some truly inspiring people.
For me, having a strong network of people I trust is crucial to success and authenticity plays a key role in establishing that trust. I’ve experienced some very difficult working relationships, and, although these were painful experiences, they’ve helped me to realise how important it is to have people around you that want to help drive your success.
In your experience, what are the key hindrances affecting women’s career progression?
I’d say a lack of confidence is something that a lot of women struggle with, which is why mentoring and coaching in the workplace is incredibly valuable. As a professional coach, I’ve seen how giving someone an external perspective and support can be truly transformative. It’s a great way to shift people out of their insecurities and help them unlock their potential.
What advice do you wish someone had given you earlier in your career?
That you achieve less if you work too hard. I really wish that I’d taken better care of my wellbeing much earlier in my career. In addition to my work, I’m also a mum of four children, and I poured everything into ensuring I was doing both jobs as well as I could. Unfortunately, it took a prolonged period of ill health for me to realise that I wasn’t letting anyone down by holding back some time for myself.
This was an incredibly difficult lesson to learn, but seeing the world continue without me was an eye-opening experience. I’m a natural workaholic, but now I ensure that I work with the flow of my body and carry out good wellbeing practices.
What are your top three pieces of advice for women wanting to succeed in their career?
- Surround yourself with a good support network of people you trust, people that believe in you and want to help you succeed.
- If you’re a leader, be a champion for others and be prepared to be a mentor and to open doors for those you believe in. Be the example you’d want to be led by.
- Finally, don’t be afraid to ask for help from the people around you.