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From policing to coaching

30-May-2019From policing to coaching

Katie talks to Di Roskilly who spent her adult life in the Police Force. Since retiring, she has launched herself into something completely different!


Can you tell us a bit about your background and life in the Police Force?

I worked for 34 years in Sussex Police. At the time I joined, it was the mid-80s and still a bit reminiscent of the TV programme Life on Mars, but was thankfully changing. There were very few women in leadership positions and proportionately there weren't that many of us in any of the ranks! For example, as a probationer I was one of two women of a team of about twenty officers in Hastings.

I did a variety of uniformed roles at the rank of PC and Sergeant and then, in 1993, I was promoted to Inspector at Hailsham - and then had my son in 1994. When I returned to work, they had just introduced part-time working, but only for PCs and Sergeants, so I worked full-time until I had my daughter in 1997. By then, they had also introduced part-time for Inspectors and above, so I started working three days a week.

I stayed in the rank of Inspector for 16 years, working part-time and also had a six month career break to get my daughter settled at primary school.

In 2009, with the encouragement of a line manager, I decided to go for the Chief Inspector promotion Boards and was successful. I took on responsibility for the Road Policing unit and, during that time became a Firearms Commander - both new areas for me and totally out of my comfort zone. However, I really enjoyed it and it was a great opportunity and experience.

Two years later, I was promoted to Superintendent in the Criminal Justice department and was then promoted to C/Supt as Divisional Commander responsible for the policing of East Sussex Division. This was brilliant and my dream job.

I decided, after nearly 34 years, that it was finally time to retire, but was asked to stay on for a further six months as Temporary Assistant Chief Constable, responsible for People Services across Surrey and Sussex. Again, a new area for me, but a great experience and I got to work with some brilliant people.

Were you still working in the Force when you were experiencing the menopausal transition?

Yes, it started whilst I was working - I think I'm still in it! I've been very fortunate, however, in terms of not really suffering with bad symptoms compared to many women, but I did suffer from hot flushes. I can remember being in a meeting and just feeling so hot. I felt that when I spoke people would think I was red because I was embarrassed about something I had said, rather than it being just my body! I also remember being in a meeting with a junior member of staff (male) trying to have a serious conversation and having a massive hot flush. I tried to ignore it and keep talking which is not easy when sweat is starting to drip on your face and you just want to get outside!

I was the Chair of our Gender Equality network and we did work to raise awareness of the Menopause. We ran some workshops for managers so they could understand the impact on staff and ones for those affected. It can be a very isolating experience for women. We also had some very brave women who were willing to share their stories and help others to be able to talk about it.

You've retired from the Police now and reinvented yourself in a completely new career. Can you tell us about that and why you decided to do it?

I knew that I couldn't stay forever in the Police - and a few years ago I thought about what I could do when I finished my service. I didn't want to retire completely as I was too young and needed to do something. I also wanted to continue, both to use my skills and to do something meaningful.

During my career, I thoroughly enjoyed coaching and mentoring others and always found it really rewarding. So I decided to train as an Executive Coach. I started my qualification whilst I was still working and completed it when I retired as I had more time then to focus on the assignments needed.

Where did the motivation come from to make this major life change?

It was really difficult leaving the Police Service. I had been doing it for most of my adult life and had seen many life events such as getting married and having children whilst there and felt in a way I had 'grown up' in the police. Policing is often described as a 'family' and I felt that was true - there is great support and I had made some really good friends and worked with great colleagues. It is an incredibly rewarding career and there is a sense of belonging and camaraderie, so I knew it might be hard to retire. I think I kept putting it off because I was enjoying it still and a bit scared about how I would feel not being part of it anymore. I think the deciding thing for me was the realisation that I still had other things I wanted to do and needed to take the leap - and also my daughter said she was going travelling for several months, so I wanted to finish work and spend time with her before she went away. That actually committed me to going!

What are the key lessons that you took from your previous career into your new career and how did you transfer the skills?

One thing I felt, and I know others I have coached experience, is a concern about what transferable skills you can take from Policing to other careers. The reality is that Policing requires you to have strong communication skills, be a good listener and have a lot of empathy for others, as well as good intuition. I think those are key skills that I have been able to transfer to coaching.

The main lessons that I have taken into my new life are that, in reterospect, I think I held myself back in my career. Although I didn't go for promotion for 16 years because I had the children, I think the reality was that I lacked confidence and put barriers up myself. I decided that the organisation wouldn't want a part-time leader, but didn't actually ask - so lots of assumptions made on my part! So, when I am coaching I will always challenge clients about what is stopping them so they can identify and overcome any barriers - whether real or imagined!

What would be the top 3 things you would say to women considering making a life change at midlife?

One of my favourite all-time quotes is by Donald Neale, "Life begins at the end of your comfort zone". So, firstly I would say, "Yes, it is scary and uncomfortable, but get on and do it and you will succeed". You definitely won't if you stay in your comfort zone and don't try anything new.

I also like something I heard recently, "Don't be perfect, be passionate". I think we hold back waiting until we have got our new idea perfect, or have got all the skills needed for a new job when we might only need some of them. I really do think that, if you are passionate about your new career, you will be more likely to shine and succeed.

Lastly, life is short and you can spend a lot of time at work - so spend it doing something you enjoy!


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