Relationships are important to Suzanne Niccolls. Getting to know new people, building connections and working together to reach goals energizes her. Needless to say, she's not the kind of person who eats lunch alone.
Working from home during the pandemic has put daily office interaction on the back burner, but she's found ways to maintain—and grow—her network, both in the Bournemouth office and around the globe. In fact, she recently built relationships with a new group of colleagues: a team of developers in India she trained through a video conference.
What is the biggest obstacle you've overcome?
I recently battled altitude sickness to hike the Inca Trail to the top of Machu Picchu. It took four days, walking eight hours a day. You are extremely tired, and you think you are finished, but around the next turn, there are another hundred steps up the mountain.
The tour guide kept us going. He was fascinating, describing the Inca culture and how we were tracing their steps. Our group bonded. We all wanted it; we all struggled; we all had blisters and were exhausted, but we all helped each other out along the way. On the last day you begin early, and you look up and see this amazing view of the sunrise over Machu Picchu.
Who has been the biggest influence in your life?
My Dad. He is very career-driven, and he always looked to achieve more. We are very similar in that way. He inspired me to pursue my dreams and goals and to never give up. He is a big believer in not putting limitations on yourself. By the same token, he has always encouraged me to do what I like and enjoy as a career.
What does success mean to you?
Making connections and building relationships with the people I work with is important to me. It's like my trip up the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu. Bonding with your fellow hikers or workers. Gaining that feeling of fulfillment and admiration from the people you work with, who are on a similar yet different journey. No one's journey in their career is ever the same, but it is amazing to hear others' experiences.
The same goes for mentors. Like the tour guide on the Inca Trail, they explain things, and guide and lead us to our destination, our career goals. That's a very powerful role, and I've been fortunate to have found good ones, especially women who have shared their formula for success.
What do you consider the most valuable piece of advice you've ever received and where did it come from?
The most valuable advice I've ever received deals with failure. Talking to colleagues, I've learned to take failure and turn it into a positive. After all, we are all human, and everyone fails at something in life. What is important is how we react to failure. Do we turn it into a learning experience? Do we ask for help?
Work-from-home, go to the office or a mix of both?
In my group, we've done fine with working from home, but I really enjoy the face-to-face interaction of the office. I like to network and to build relationships, so it is easier to do that in the office. The whole collaboration aspect is a lot easier in person.