Danielle Perfect, Women on Boards Ambassador

Danielle Perfect

Partner, Office of General Counsel, PwC

Getting to the C-Suite Leadership Programme Alumna

PwC is one of the foundation sponsors of Women on Boards UK and accordingly I was already aware of Women on Boards when I saw an email from them about the “Getting to the C-Suite” programme.

At the time, I had recently moved from a purely legal role to one that was wider and more commercially focused, and I both wanted and needed to build my general leadership and business skills in order to make partner within PwC or to move elsewhere.

I wasn’t sure I was senior enough to attend, as PwC’s ultimate executive board C-Suite is a reach too far at the moment, given the size of the organisation! However, when I spoke to Women on Boards about my concerns they reassured me that the programme was ideal for someone at my level, looking for a stretch promotion, and they were absolutely right. The programme was perfect for that stage of my career, in terms of giving me the confidence and leadership skills to make the leap to the next step, whether actual C-Suite or (in the case of very large organisations like PwC) promotion to partnership or other senior management role.

There was nothing about the programme or the individual modules that I didn’t enjoy. I used to feel uplifted after every session.

For me personally, coming from a purely legal background, the sessions that were of particular value were:

Leading Strategically:

In my role as a lawyer, I hadn’t really had to think about the strategy or management of a business, as my work was mainly transactional, so this was a particularly valuable learning curve for me. As a partner, understanding how to contribute to and feed the overall company strategy up and down the organisation has been really important.

Leading Collaboratively:

Now I’m managing a team myself, the learning from this module about accepting that you’re never going to please all of the people all of the time but understanding how to manage this in a leadership role was invaluable.

I also found the final C-Suite Readiness Challenge truly inspiring too, hearing about the challenges various inspirational women have faced as they shared their own stories.

The difference that the Getting to the C-Suite programme has made to me both personally and professionally is enormous. It was unquestionably a huge factor in getting into the partnership process at PwC – what I learned on the course gave me the confidence and made me feel empowered to take the lead in business and commercial discussions that I might not have done previously. I now feel I am coming from a position of strength and knowledge.

The fact that the programme is women-only was initially a bit of a concern, especially since I was worried that I’d be surrounded by “super-City” types, but I couldn’t have been more wrong. The women in my cohort were wonderful and, without exception, a delight to work with, as was the entire Women on Boards coaching team.

Overall, the Women on Boards Getting to the C-Suite programme unquestionably helped me get over my self-doubt, which was definitely holding me back, and importantly made me truly believe that I could make partner – providing me with a real sense of “I can do this”. It’s no longer a mystery when people talk about high level business strategy in the organisation and I feel confident now in contributing to these discussions having learned the skills and techniques that help underpin my new role.

The programme gave me the confidence and commercial skills to be a real leader. I no longer stress about the obstacles in my way on any project or the journey – I am focused on the end goal.

Your next steps…