An interview with the amazing Teresa Haughey

I have the huge pleasure of interviewing Teresa Haughey today, founder of JADE Experiences and the first female director at Seabourn Cruise Lines. I met Teresa at a local networking event and loved her story and her honesty. I was thrilled when she agreed to tell us more about her career, struggling with imposter syndrome and the advice she would give her younger self!  

 

Can we start today with you telling me a little about your career highlights please?

After years working in the hospitality industry, I joined Seabourn Cruise Line’s in 2008 as Chief Purser - the officer responsible for all administration, supply of cargo and manifest and handling of money onboard a ship. I worked in several positions but in 2012 I was offered the promotion to Hotel Director, then Operations Director in Seattle. I would be the first female director at Seabourn Cruise Line. I said no! I didn’t think I could do the job, but my boss could see in me what I couldn’t see in myself. The Exec team agreed with him - I was the only one not convinced!

 

What changed your mind?

I went on a 32 day walk - ‘The Camino De Santiago’ - to take my time and think about it. When I started the walk, I didn’t feel good enough; by the middle of walk, and having 2 weeks of thinking time to ponder questions like “If they can see it in me, why can’t I?” and “If they can do it, why can’t I?” I had changed my thinking to ‘of course I can do this’! By the end of the walk I knew the only way I would find out if I could do it was by doing it. So I said yes!

 

What was it like being the first female director in the company?

It was the best job I ever had, and I loved every minute of it. The first 4 weeks were the hardest. I had male employees reporting to me that came from various cultures and countries and they were not happy or impressed having a female manager. There were 2 individuals in particular I had a fight with them every single time I asked them to do anything.

 

How did you overcome this?

I pulled them into a room and asked “When are you leaving?” They looked confused and I told them it was obvious they don’t want to work with me but I wasn’t going anywhere. I explained that I wasn’t there to tell them how to do their job; I was there to manage the ship and support them within their roles. This was a game changing conversation!

 

What or who has inspired you most in your career?

Chris Prelog - my boss at Seabourn Cruise Line and the person who put me forward for the promotion to director. I didn’t realise at the time of working with him - it is taking the step back that I can see how amazing he was. He fights for what he believes in. He puts himself on the line. He is passionate about the company. He is so inspiring but doesn’t realise how much he inspires people. He definitely taught me to fight for what you believe in and never give up. I wish I had met him sooner in life.

 

What have you found most challenging in your career?

Believing in myself. I grew up on a Council Estate, as one of eight children. I left school with minimal exam results and wanted to start earning money as soon as possible. Working in hospitality I was mingling with successful people, educated people, and I sometimes didn’t understand how I could be part of this and be respected. I felt I wasn’t worthy and it definitely was a challenge to believe in myself.

It took a long time to realise and understand how much I was contributing. Even with the directorship and moving to Seattle I can now see I had a huge amount of experience but at the time I just kept thinking they will wake up and realise I’m faking it.

 

How did you deal with these imposter syndrome thoughts?

I talked to myself and I talked to my best friend! My friend gave me the outsider perspective, reminding me that I got to where I got to because of my hard work, that nobody had to give me the opportunities and that I had found and pushed my own way forward and through.

In terms of self talk, I had to have a conversation every time I went into a meeting - that I know what I’m talking about. Before speaking, I took a deep breath and thought about what I was going to say. Looking at the faces in the room, I was always shocked when I realised they really were listening to me!

Those feelings though, of not being worthy, they never went away. My heart beat faster every single time I had to speak. It was good to challenge myself that way. I just had to develop strategies to cope. Always keep challenging, keep challenging, keep challenging. 

Teresa Haughey: leading the way for female leaders within Seabourn Cruise Lines

What one thing in your career would you do differently if you could?

Nothing. I have loved my career. I have loved the steps I’ve taken and the road it’s led me down. I can see I fell into positions at the right time - when I was ready, even if I didn’t feel ready at the time! For example, I now know my management skills are very good but I didn’t realise until I could define them within the director role.

 

What advice would you give your younger self?

Believe in yourself more. Don’t listen to other people. We spend so much time listening to people knocking us down. I was so threatened by what people thought and it is so easy to be influenced by others. It is very sad.

Also, don’t let people intimidate you. I was the only female in the room but I had to forget about gender and realise I was there because of my experience. It took years for me to get that mindset.

 

What change would you love to see for women in the workplace?

For us to have more confidence in ourselves. I know how much I doubted myself and had no understanding of the potential I had! When I saw people in positions I thought I couldn't do it. Sometimes men make it look hard and women then don’t go for it. When I got to the director position I realised it isn’t that difficult! I’m not saying women are better than men but we are more skilled at being honest about positions and ourselves. We need to believe we can do what men can do.

When I was recruiting for positions I could see women had less confidence than men. I had to really pull out of them their experience. It is great companies want to hire more women into senior roles, but it shouldn’t be about achieving a figure. There needs to be a longer term plan. There needs to be a good road map to ensure those women that want to get these positions have the tools, training and experiences available to be able to achieve their career aspirations.

 

This year you have set up Jade Experiences - a companionship, events and adventures service for over 55 year youngs. What prompted this transition?

After travelling a lot for so many years I had a gut feeling the time was right to do something different. I feel I have taken a step back to take a step forward. I have the tools to build Jade. I am excited about what the future could potentially be - it feels right.

 

Congratulations - starting a business is huge!

It is - and I have doubts in myself but not the business. I believe in the business. The business is strong. I sometimes doubt that I am strong enough to push through on my own. Some days it is just hard. I feel like I’m starting from a seed that I need to grow. It is definitely a huge shift from a corporate mindset to a start up - I think that is where doubts come from. But now I am getting members, PR, traction - the feeling of excitement is also growing - I can see a massive future for Jade.

 

Thank you Teresa - you are an inspiration and I have loved talking to you today.

 

JADE Experiences offers private membership for those who are 55 years young or over, who are wanting companionship, experiences and adventures as they enter this exciting stage of their lives. Jade offers connections with people of similar interests, a private chat forum, a dedicated book club, fabulous food outings, amazing photography, and assistance with all travel and so much more. You’ve spent the first half of your life helping others - focusing on a career, raising children, helping your family; you can spend the second half enjoying it by doing what you love! Teresa Haughey is the founder and owner and has the ambition that in 5 years time Jade experiences will be available all across the UK.