If you were with me on a cool spring day in April 1996, you would have been seated in a cramped public sector office waiting for the phone to ring...

You would have felt tension in the room. This was the day after the interview for my dream job - the one I’d waited years for.

I’d been working for a long time in what for me had become a mundane job as a conventional middle manager in the Probation Service. I felt stuck, bored and hankering for change. Although I’d moved to other middle manager roles, the new challenges they brought were short-lived. I had now officially stopped growing.

I’d also been involved for some years in creating a business culture that included equality and diversity - my passion - but when this new post came up with my passion at its heart, I was scared. I wondered: ‘Is this a job you can do?’

On that day in April 1996, one phone call from one director would change my life forever.

It’s too late...

The phone rings. I sit up with a start. “Claudia, it’s George.” George was a member of the interview panel and my former line manager. “I’m calling about the outcome of your interview. Sorry ... you didn’t get the job. You weren’t convincing. I expected so much more from you. And now it’s too late.”

I lay awake that night, and many more besides, mulling over the interview. My one chance to get that dream job and I’d blown it. I made a vow; that would be my last attempt at promotion. And yet, in my heart of hearts, I knew I was capable of so much more.

...Or is it?

A few years later I moved sideways into a brand new organisation, a place that promised new opportunities for someone to really make their mark. Even though it cost me dearly, my self-doubts continued and my decision to avoid promotion remained firm. So I threw myself into my new role, doing what I could to overcome my lack of confidence and move myself on.

Then one day, Peter, a regional director, approached me. “Claudia, we’re setting up a new department and I’d like you to apply for one of the new management posts.” Being headhunted was great, but I hesitated when I heard in my head: ‘It’s too late’.

“Peter,” I said, “It’s come too late for me. I’m OK where I am.”

“Claudia, I want you in my team. It’s definitely not too late. Just look at the job description and you’ll see that it’s right for you.”

So I did. And I got the job.

And further success followed

With Bob Proctor

With Bob Proctor

For the next two years I decided I wasn’t going to fail again. I learned everything I could about what it takes for a woman to get promoted. And it worked. When Peter left I was encouraged to take on the management of the department.

So it wasn’t too late. Now I could see there was only me holding me back.

That a mistake several years ago shouldn’t become a mistake for life.

That I’d learnt what it takes to be a successful woman in business.

I had faced my fears head on and knocked them down one by one. I was no longer hearing that voice telling me ‘It’s too late’.

After many years of self-doubt, of being stuck in a role and moving sideways - a total waste of time! - finally I’d made it and got that promotion and a position I wanted.

Now I’m helping others

I took redundancy from the Service in 2010 and set up Winning Pathways Coaching. With my passion for equality and diversity an ongoing driving force, I wanted to share how I’d achieved success with as many women as possible.

Often I see women with huge potential holding themselves back, like I did. Is that you? Have you been holding yourself back? Are you now ready to go for what you want?

Because I’m here to tell you it’s never too late.

Now is the time.

Where to next?