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Networking lunch with Chief Superintendent Paula Hilman MBE

16-Jun-2017

 

Set against the backdrop of a blue sky and sparkling sea, with the rugged Skerries on the horizon , the scene could not have been more fitting. Nourished by lunch from Tanya and her team, enthused by the ambience of the Arcadia building, and garnered by the camaraderie of our Women in Business colleagues, we gathered to listen to Paula Hillman, Chief Superintendent of the PSNI.

If the view outside was breath taking, Paula’s talk was inspirational, colourful and motivating. Speaking of her career and her personal thoughts on leadership, she not only gave us a potted history of her journey through her profession, but an account of PSNI’s own story.

We were intrigued to hear of how when she joined there had been a three year gap in the recruitment of women to the forces. We were transported back to the eighties when women wore skirts, had a monthly allowance for tights and these along with thin soled shoes did little to help when chasing criminals on the street. These were not the only accessories of a female officer. At this time, on passing out, male officers were suitably equipped with protective clothing and personal protection weapons. Females on the other hand were equipped with, a handbag! Paula actually produced her handbag, a plain black rectangular long-strapped affair which she and her colleagues were supposed to carry on the beat. In a nod to its purpose, it had a hole on the top of it for the radio antennae to protrude.

Although this commentary provided much laughter in the room, Paula was not critical of the then RUC, and its attitudes to women. That was the way it was. It was not perfect but it was typical of society at that time. Things have progressed significantly and Paula has been involved in many of those changes, flexible working and equality high on her agenda during her professional career.

Along with an insight into her chosen career, we also enjoyed Paula’s thoughts on leadership. She encouraged us to take support from our female colleagues, to attend forums and network events like those of Women In Business. She urged us to support each other and not to feel guilty about the choices we make. Nothing stands still and if we choose to take time out to mind our children, it will pass, but if we choose to work full time, why should we feel guilty about doing so. She suggested that we know our own strengths, but also our limitations and gave us a piece of advice we all took away to put in practice, “Be Yourself – With Style”.

View the full galley HERE