In a month where we are celebrating This Mum Runs and all the many ways we have empowered women to lead bigger, bolder, healthier, happier lives, we wanted to take the opportunity to shine a light a bit closer to home too.
The This Mum Runs HQ team is made up of a team of kick ass women who wanted more from their lives. To give something back, yes. But also more for themselves – more balance, the opportunity to work on something meaningful, the flexibility to follow the multitude of paths that lead to their dreams.
I am proud to be building a business that makes this possible – for myself and for others.
So on the week that sees the UK celebrating National Happiness Day, it felt appropriate to tell the story of our fantastic Head of People, Jo Lee, who is building a happier life with the support of This Mum Runs.
First up, Jo Lee, TMR Head of People.
Jo, tell us a bit about you.
I am 38, mum to 7 year old bike and scooter mad Rowan. Isn’t it funny how you always mention the mum bit first!?
We live in Bristol with Olly, my awesome partner of 4 years. We all LOVE being outdoors; our camper van adventures in the UK and Europe are the thing we all look forward to the most; headspace and exploring all rolled into one. Our family mantra is, ‘Life is too short’. We are bike riders, Olly coaches, races and manages a UK Mountain bike team and Rowan and I do our best to keep up!
Before Rowan, I used to scuba dive, ride bikes, horse ride and travel a lot.
After Rowan I still do most of these things…just a little bit less regularly and with a lot less confidence. The combination of massive changes to my body, a ‘challenging’ past relationship and a new found requirement to not break bones has created a bit more fear for me!
How did you get involved with This Mum Runs?
I needed a less time consuming way to keep healthy and running seemed ideal. I did the standard ‘lurk’ on the TMR Facebook page for about 6 months before going for my first social run, led by the amazing Lisa Walters and accompanied by the legendary Seema Srivastava. I LOVED running with those ladies and my passion for TMR was solidified.
What was happening with your work life at the time?
I was working in ‘corporate land’ as Director of Learning and Development for a big multinational. Great money, loads of travel but not enough time with my boy and certainly not a role that filled my soul with joy. I had a painful break up with Ro’s dad and as usual these things give you a new perspective on life. I wanted to have freedom, health and happiness for Ro and I. I had just started to ‘properly’ get into running too, so had found a new physical and mental strength so……..I quit my job, sold my house and signed up for a PGCE eeeeeek!
I had always wanted to teach but had to be the breadwinner in the past so it felt like it may never happen. Well thankfully it did in September 2016.
How did you start working for This Mum Runs?
Something else also happened in 2016, I dropped Mel an email and offered to meet her for a chat about TMR and to see if I could help in any way. A fortuitous email!
Mel and I met for a cuppa in Tincan on North Street in Bristol and talked ‘people’. People is the heart and soul of TMR so it was a pretty energised and exciting meeting. From there, I volunteered for TMR for 18 months to produce and deliver face to face run angel training. I enjoyed it so much that I set a goal for myself, to work for TMR, hopefully full time one day.
Fast forward to August 2018 and Mel offered me the part time role of ‘Head of people’ which means I get to work with amazing Angels, Run Makers and the wider community to keep TMR as focused on people as it always has been.
I combine it with an exciting new part time role developing and implementing a new curriculum for a special needs school, something else which I am hugely passionate about.
How has this changed your working and family life?
Work doesn’t feel like work at all now and has empowered me to make massive changes in my life. I am now able to drop Rowan to school and collect him; this is literally life changing for both of us, I cannot express what this means to me.
I can work from various locations; I interviewed Jo Sacher for her job with TMR from a log cabin in France
And I created a lot of the online Run Angel training from a lovely little (wifi enabled) cafe in Yorkshire!
Being able to work in such a flexible way means I can be the very best ‘me’ for my family and for TMR because I am not constantly exhausted with worry about logistics and missing parents evening or sports day.
How else has working for This Mum Runs impacted your life?
My confidence has grown hugely because of TMR. I was honoured to be a pacemaker for some TRM ladies at the Bristol 10k (would never have done that before!), have run my first half marathon, flown a parapente, quit my corporate job and have even learnt to do proper jumps on my bike.
I am challenging myself to jump higher both on my bike and in terms of my sheer enjoyment of life.
I know that I can make these things happen, but they wouldn’t have happened without TMR.