Mun-Yee Harrison talks us through how she suffered from imposter syndrome after coming back from maternity leave. She had lost all her confidence and nearly passed up the opportunity to become a sales director. Here’s her story.
When Mun-Yee Harrison was still in school, she knew she wanted to work in media, but wasn’t sure in what aspect.
But after graduating from Westminster University with a degree in media, Mun-Yee knew that particular career path wasn’t for her. She did, however, still want to work in and around the industry.
Following a few questionable interviews – the weirdest being for a motorbike magazine where she needed an interest in motorbikes and should have attended motorbike conventions – she set her sights on a career in media sales.
“Sales wasn’t something that crossed my mind but I don’t think it is when you are at school,” she said.
Having had various sales roles throughout school and university, she knew sales was something she had a flair for but had never considered it to be something she’d pursue as a career.
Her first role was with The Guardian, where she spent 12 years working her way up from telesales to managing a business area.
“It was a fantastic introduction to the world of media sales in what I still feel is one of the best journalistic brands out there,” she recalled.
Meanwhile, in the world of recruitment, media and tech had changed dramatically, and Mun-Yee said Indeed was always an organisation that was a key competitor when she was speaking with clients.
She added: “I didn’t know a lot about Indeed as the brand wasn’t as big in the UK then; it was the sleeping giant which people didn’t expect to become such a huge player in the world of recruitment.”
After being sold the role by an ex-colleague, Mun-Yee started her role as a National Account Manager (NAM) in the London office in February 2017, which then only had around 36 NAMs in the sales team. She was one of only eight women in the sales team at the time, which took some adjusting to after her previous role.
“I wanted and needed a new challenge,” she shared. “I wanted to develop myself again so instead of going for a management role, which is what they questioned me about in the interview, but at the time I didn’t want a leadership position, I wanted to learn more about this new industry and organisation”.
It was a step back for her but a massive step forward in terms of her career progression. The year she spent working as a NAM was one of the best years in her career, and she had some real successes, getting zero billers to spend and turning relationships around with clients. She was at her peak.
“I felt like I was making huge steps in my career… And then I went on maternity leave,” she said.
“I am one of those people who cannot let go. I was in labour in the hospital messaging the team as I was so engrossed and committed to the job and my clients.”
After only taking seven months off for maternity, she was desperate to come back and continue her career while being a new mother. In the time she had been away, Indeed had grown massively as a business in the UK with new products and new people.
“It was a bit daunting coming back with the thought of missing all the changes and being left behind,” she confessed. “I came back to a completely new book of clients. After spending seven months out of the business with a baby, I thought how I am going to be able to have a professional conversation with adults again!”
Her confidence also took a hit while she was on maternity leave, which is why after seeing a Director position become available in the team, she decided not to go for it.
“I was coming back for a NAM role and didn’t even consider coming back for a Director role,” she said. “Why would they give that role to a mum returning to work, who also wanted a flexible schedule?”
Instead, she hyped herself up to start from scratch again, with a new set of clients until the sales training manager approached her wondering why she was not applying for the role knowing of Mun-Yee’s career progression plans.
Together, they worked to build up her confidence and she finally went for the role, although she was secretly convinced she would not get it.
“I wasn’t sure I could do the job,” she recounted. “I had been out of the business for seven months and I was going to have to learn so much again. I had imposter syndrome, thinking ‘Oh my god, I am not going to be able to do this’.”
But upon more self reflection, she realised there was no reason why she would not get the role, particularly after all the work she had put in, and knowing Indeed fostered a culture of equal opportunities.
She also knew she had nothing to lose by putting her hand up for the role: “I went into the process with a positive mindset; if I got the role, great. If I didn’t, then I could continue to build on my success as a NAM, but with new clients.”
As it turned out, Mun-Yee had nothing to worry about. In April 2019, she was awarded the promotion to the role of Director of Sales and hasn’t looked back since.
“If I was to give any advice to women coming back from maternity leave, I would say remember all the hard work you put in before and successes you had,” she said.
“I was never someone who thought I would lose my self-confidence, but you have to remember you are still the same person as before going on leave. If anything, I have probably developed a lot more patience since becoming a mum!”