Influential Leaders

Susie Palmer-Trew, Charity CEO and Founder at Everyday Change

In her own words, Susie is a “trophy yielding change bod” – with the ambition to affect how we change as individuals and teams and to help organisations be responsive and respectful of the people inside them.  Susie is also Mum to Harry, Wife to Nicky, and now Chief Exec at the University of Northampton Students’ Union. With 15 years experience working across construction, IT, and strategy she’s got stories and skin in the ‘change-game’ and recognises the importance of our varied histories, diverse opportunities and unique cultures, and how reflecting them in our worlds helps us to achieve real outcomes that we can be proud of.

A multi-award-winning project professional with a reputation for delivering impact, and getting results, she balances this through sharing and spreading the passion she has for her work, to enable team-mates, peers, and leaders to deliver successful organisation-wide change.

Welcome to the interview, Susie.

How do you start your day?

Trying to decide which one of us gets up to the cries of ‘Mama?’ from our Toddlers bedroom, when there are two Mamas some days you have to toss for it

What was your first job, and what is the worst job you’ve ever done?

First job was at Pizza Hut. I don’t think I’ve had a ‘worst’, I’ve made some bad calls but nothing compares to the time I worked for my dad’s demolition company and I raked stones out of topsoil for ten days. Character building.

What advice would you give to others about furthering their careers?

Know what you want and don’t limit yourself to ‘further’ – careers can be beautiful, colourful winding paths and it’s not always about going up. Some days it’s about getting technicolour.

Do you think a talent to lead is nature or nurture?

I think leadership requires courage, and breaking that down – ‘cour’ means heart and courage ‘speak from the heart’. I think our hearts respond best when nurtured, so for me, leadership is nurture.

How can a leader fail? Do you have a personal example?

Nobody is infallible. And the point of failure isn’t where the money’s at; I don’t care ‘what’ the failure is (or how you define it, find it, judge it; it’s not a level playing ground), but I do care what you did with it and learned from it. I was asked at an interview to tell them when I had failed. So I did. Whipped the plaster off and told them. The panel’s faces were a picture, it was in that moment they didn’t actually expect me to be honest; to take responsibility. But I did then and I do now. The lesson being, make sure you create space and time to take other people on your failure journey – it’s easier on everyone!

What are your greatest strengths and weaknesses?

Ah gawd. I dunno. I think a mindset that I was recently reminded of is a good summation of me: Positive pragmatism – anything is possible but not everything is sensible… Some days I forget that not everything is sensible. (I am also terrible at spelling punctuation and grammar).

What do you find most challenging about being a leader?

How much time it can take and how short the distance you may travel.

What are you most proud of?

Quick ego check. I’m proud of me. And I share that proudness with everyone I work with and talk to, because if we were all a little bit prouder of ourselves, just think what an impact that could have.

What’s your biggest self-indulgence?

There is no singular answer, I am often self-indulgent ????