Get to know Louisa Elder – Coach and Facilitator

What’s your view on the current state of gender equity?

I try to focus on the positive impact that can be done to accelerate gender equality in business and beyond, rather than to focus on the current disparity. It is a complex issue, further influenced by factors like occupational segregation and unconscious biases. Although there is a huge amount of work ahead, focusing on what can be done to gain momentum is important. Shape Talent is a wonderful example of how conscious and dedicated effort can speed up the pace of change.

What have you read recently?

I am an avid reader and usually have two books on the go.  I am part of a book club and love being encouraged to read books that I would not ordinarily choose. Our most recent book was a translation of the play The Visit by Friedrich Durrenmatt which was a really interesting exploration on the themes of vengeance and justice.  The other book beside my bed is “Quiet” by Susan Cain which I am re-reading in preparation for a workshop. I love reading well researched and insightful books relating to coaching and psychotherapy. I have a rule that I need to have read a book before displaying on my bookshelves… I am now running out of space!

Do you face the double burden as a woman with a career and if so, how do you manage it? 

Both my husband and I manage careers and a family and I feel very lucky that we are so aligned in supporting each other. This has meant that we have had to rely heavily on help at home and our brilliantly supportive families. However, it is a fine balance and if our child is ill or plans change the impact is huge. I do, however, notice that I experience “guilt” when I miss a key school event and my husband experiences “disappointment”.

Tell us about a woman who has been a role model to you.

My first job post leaving University was a tutor to Nicola Horlick’s daughter in Great Ormond Street Hospital. Her daughter Georgie, aged 11, was undergoing gruelling treatment for leukaemia. Every single day, without fail, Nicola would juggle her diary to ensure that she had time with Georgie. Not only was she managing an incredibly busy career, she also had four other children at the time.

Nicola had a profound impact on me. I observed a hugely successful role female role model who was not afraid to stand up for herself. Nicola and I would chat each day at Georgie’s bedside. Her resilience was remarkable. Her book “Can You Have It All?” raised an important question and discussion about what we can and can’t juggle as women. Nicola was known for her energy and ambition, yet I also observed her immensely calm and gentle side as we kept a constant vigil by Georgie’s hospital bedside.

What do you like to do in your spare time? 

Being with my family and being active. My husband ensures that these two aspects are always combined- signing us up for new challenges from triathlons to climbing! In another life I would have been a ballet dancer. Even when my diary is packed with meetings, I will find a way to ensure some movement features in my day. Our fox red Labrador provides yet another reason to escape outside.