Penny Queller

A meaningful International Women's Day, by Penny Queller, Chief Customer Officer at Impellam Group

I’m proud to be celebrating International Women’s Day (IWD) at Impellam this year with many remarkable colleagues and customers. It’s a time to recognise our achievements, share our experiences and continue to create the inclusive culture that we are proud of.

People who know me understand that I have a passion for learning, and in that spirit, I eagerly anticipated our guest speaker at our IWD event, Emily Esfahani Smith. But I had no idea just how much Emily would inspire and challenge me.

Emily argues that while many people strive to be happy, a more fulfilling goal is to create a meaningful life. As an author and journalist, she spent five years researching the topic, involving hundreds of interviews and extensive reading of psychology, neuroscience and philosophy. Her conclusion is there are four ingredients or ‘pillars’ that create meaning in life – and I‘ve been thinking about what these mean to me.

Creating a meaningful life

The first pillar is a sense of Belonging – building relationships and having a connection to a larger community. I always enjoy meeting people, but more than that, I delight in connecting others. Nothing gives me greater pleasure than igniting a spark between like-minded people and watching relationships blossom.

As a leader, co-worker, neighbour, friend and family member, I also feel an acute sense of responsibility to cultivate a fulfilling bond with people. Small things, like establishing eye contact, smiling, active listening can make a profound difference in other’s lives.

 The second pillar, Purpose, is a sense of accomplishment in a longer term goal. I find purpose in creating a wonderful life for my family and raising great kids. I also find purpose in being part of a winning team at work and using my strengths to develop others and to help us achieve our collective goals.

Emily’s third pillar took a bit more thought. As a commercial business leader, I make decisions based on facts and data, so the concept of ‘Transcendence’ caused me to pause and reflect. But my connection to something greater than myself is absolutely a way I find meaning. Through spirituality and nature I feel awakened. I am always amazed at how a simple hike through the woods, tending to my garde, or heading out on the boat to watch the sunset resets my perspective and brings meaning to my day.

Emily’s final pillar, Storytelling, was the one I connected with immediately. In this context, storytelling is how we see ourselves and the stories we tell ourselves. Creating a narrative from the events of life brings clarity, but we don’t always realise that we’re the authors of our own stories and so we can change the way we’re telling them. I am grateful that I’ve been gifted with a perspective that sees the best in everyone and every situation. I have a need to share this gift with anyone that needs a boost or to reset their own story.

 At Impellam, this year the theme of all of our Equality, Diversity and Inclusion events is ‘reignite’ We have chosen ‘reignite’ because, after a challenging few years, we want to help create a new energy in people – for work and for life. If you haven’t seen it, I recommend Emily’s Ted Talk, ‘There’s more to life than being happy’. I hope it fuels a change in perspective for you in the same way it did for me.


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