Sharon Hardcastle

For International Women’s Day 2022 – we celebrate our rock and COO – Sharon Hardcastle…

Sharon Hardcastle, COO Potential Squared


March 8, 2022

Hi – I’m Sharon Hardcastle, Chief Operating Officer at Potential Squared. Today’s International Women’s Day and for the first time this year, I’m sitting in a room with all the P2 team. It’s our Q1 team day, and we’ve all come together to finalize our 2022-23 strategy and plan for the next financial year. As I look around the room, I’m proud of the team, all eager to get involved and see where they can add value to our clients, delivery team, and each other.

 

I’m a big believer in flexibility, not only in my leadership approach but also in the way in which the team operates. P2 has been working from a virtual office since December 2019 (which some may say was great foresight or even lucky), this allows the team the flexibility to look after our clients at a time that’s right for them. The world has and is constantly changing and it’s important now more than ever to build and nurture high-performing teams through trust.

 

I’m a born organizer and enthusiastic explorer and it’ll come as no surprise to those who know me that I met Colin (Potential Squared’s CEO) on a beach in Asia. I started my P2 journey as an Associate supporting the Asia offices, Hong Kong, and Singapore, and as part of the Asia Delivery Team. Six months later I was in the business, building the P2 business operations to support our future growth. I love my role and consider myself a generalist, and as COO, this provides a platform for me to support, coach, and mentor our team to be their best.

 

My day-to-day is a mixed bag and to be honest, that’s what makes me tick, spending time with our clients, having a hand in sales and marketing, overseeing the service and finance, and running the business operations. I’m passionate about people and building the right business approach for innovation and growth. I come from a place of logic, which combined with my strong communication and reasoning provides a stable platform for our team to challenge, be creative and experiment.

 

My background and the foundation of my skills and experience were built in Financial Services, firstly at Barclays and then First Direct, where I’ve spent 20-years working on innovative solutions that saw the banking world shift from face-to-face- firstly telephone – and then online banking services. It was at First Direct I was offered my first leadership role in 1999,  someone decided to take a chance on me, and I decided to jump in with both feet.

 

I’d always been a full-time working Mum and in 2006 I decided the time seemed right to have some dedicated family time. I didn’t have to walk away from my leadership role, I was offered a career break, something available to men and women alike – the ultimate flexibility that I considered a reward. Looking back this decision was pivotal in shaping the next stage on my leadership journey.  After just 6-months I felt ready to go out on my own – consultancy was my next move. The next 10-years led me through a journey in leadership that expanded my horizons in areas I never imagined, from consultancy within female-led start-ups, into a joint venture, and then on to Potential Squared.

 

I’m happy to say that being a woman hasn’t hindered or held back my journey on the leadership path. I’ve worked with and for an equal number of men and women throughout my career and have received an enormous level of support and encouragement to continue to develop myself.  I think when you are comfortable in your own skin you flourish, and this naturally shows in the work you do with others. Being honest and building trust are key ingredients to creating a solid team. Make sure your team knows they can count on you as their leader, to provide a level of safety and security to achieve great things.

 

My one piece of advice for up-and-coming leaders is – always be yourself, you are your greatest asset – be confident in your own abilities, the rest will follow.

 

Leadership is collaboration and influence, not authority!

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