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This was first published by ADR-ODR

To honour international women's day ADR-ODR International intends to celebrate the inspirational achievements and undeniable contribution women have given to the work and development of ADR both nationally and internationally.

To honour this meaningful day we we will be publishing a series of interviews commencing on the 8th March 2018, which are intended to showcase inspirational women in the field of ADR.

In honour of International Women's Day we are delighted to commence our interview series with Jane Gunn FCIArb, FRSA, FPSA, CEDR accredited, CMC registered and IMI Certified International Mediator.

Jane started her career in 1983 and is a former solicitor, and a practicing mediator with 20 years of experience mediating commercial cases. Jane is accredited by the CEDR, registered with the CMC, certified by the IMI and a member of the CIArb.

Jane as a wealth of experience mediating complex disputes from a multitude of areas including but not limited to boardroom disputes, joint ventures and medical negligence. She has trained many mediators and has been invited to speak at various venues including the White House. Jane is a renowned and successful mediator, speaker and author, her current work is entitled “The Authority Guide to conflict Resolution” .

Here is what Jane had to say: 

What draws you to ADR and mediation in particular?

I have long believed that the adversarial approach cannot help us to solve problems or enhance relationships. As a lawyer, mediation seems such an obvious way to help people resolve issues because it gives control and responsibility back to the people at the heart of the problem, helps them to better understand both themselves and others involved, and enables them to make their own decisions and to craft their own solutions based on what they would like for the future. It really is dialogue by design and it works.

Who is your female inspiration and why?

There are many women who have inspired me over the years but one particular woman is Katherine (Kay) Graham, June 16, 1917 – July 17, 2001). Kay Graham was the first female publisher of a major American newspaper. She led her family's newspaper, The Washington Post, for more than two decades and it was her decision to cover the Watergate affair that eventually led to the resignation of President Richard Nixon. I have huge admiration for Kay Graham because she had the tenacity and the courage to take on the role of publisher following the sudden death of her husband Philip Graham, who was an alcoholic, had mental health issues and had often belittled his wife. Despite this, Kay Graham assumed the reigns of the company after her husband's suicide and subsequently became the first female Fortune 500 CEO in 1972. As the only woman to be in such a high position at a publishing company, she had no female role models and had difficulty being taken seriously by many of her male colleagues and employees. Kay had to fight to overcome her lack of confidence and distrust in her own knowledge. The beginning of the women's movement coincide with Kay Graham's control of the Post which brought about changes in her own attitude and led her to promote gender equality in her company.

What 4 celebrities past or present would sit on your round table?

A difficult choice but I would choose the following – they are inspirational role models, each with their own unique ability to communicate with people of all ages, races and genders about everyday circumstances and events

Victoria Wood CBE, English comedian, actress, singer and songwriter, screenwriter, producer and director – a seriously funny woman who was dedicated to developing her skill as a comic artist and an amazing ability to connect with her audience. She never stopped growing that talent, becoming better and better over the years.

Sir David Attenborough, broadcaster and naturalist – a lifelong passion and ability to communicate and to inspire people of all generations to listen and to act. The current movement against plastic has to a degree been prompted by his programme “Blue Planet” reporting on the impact waste is having on our oceans.

Dr. Bernie Siegel, American surgeon, writer and speaker – has been at the forefront of the movement to acknowledge and understand the relationship between the patient and the healing process, the mind, body, spirit connection. He is known for his best-selling book “Love, Medicine and Miracles”, which inspired me to explore the possibility of a similar approach to the law as he had to medicine
Rosa Parks, US activist in the Civil Rights Movement called “the first lady of civil rights” and “the mother of the freedom movement”. Famous for refusing to give up her seat in the “coloured section” of the bus to a white passenger in 1955. An act of tremendous courage, challenging authority, culture and the status quo. She became an international icon of resistance to racial segregation, fighting for justice and equality.

What has been your biggest professional challenge to date and how did you overcome it?

The biggest challenge for me has been transforming and reinventing myself every few years. When I first returned to work after having my second child I had the choice to go back to work as a solicitor - the safe option. Alternatively, I could branch out on my own as a mediator and consultant and “jump off the cliff” into the unknown, and that's what I chose to do. Since then I have gone on to become an international speaker and author; and am now working with organizations as an adviser and board member, including my current position as Chair of the Board of Management at the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators. Overcoming the challenge each time has required a degree of self-belief, perseverance and determination. I have needed to learn new skills but also valued the support, and this is the most important thing, of my family, friends and colleagues who have encouraged me to take on these new challenges and to keep growing.

What advice would you give a young woman who wants to succeed in the workplace?

Collaboration is the key to success. Focus on building strong and trusting relationships with your colleagues and with your clients. Spend time getting to know them and letting them know you better. Be real, you do not need to pretend to be something or someone that you are not. It's too hard to keep up the façade and fake people always get found out. Believe in yourself and believe in others too. Be the best you can possibly be at everything you do and help others to be the very best that they can be too. Don't worry about failing, when challenges happen, get back up and move forward again with renewed strength and determination.

“Don't worry about failures, worry about the chances you miss when you don't even try.”– Jack Canfield

What do you think is the most significant barrier to female leadership?

Trying to mimic the style of male leaders. Women have their own skills, characteristics and traits. Feminine energy is very powerful in the boardroom and beyond and a great balance to the male energy that dominates in most organizations. It is not about being soft just about using our innate skills, whatever they are to see and respond to situations differently.

Would you describe yourself as a hunter or a gatherer? 

Both - I think it's possible to be both a hunter and a gatherer. A hunter, in the sense that you are ambitious to go out into the world looking for new possibilities and opportunities and a gatherer in the sense that you see the value in nurturing the people and relationships that you have and most importantly in looking after your self physically, mentally and spiritually.

Do you have any career regrets?

None at all! Whilst my career has not worked out as I might have imagined when I started out it has been a fascinating journey and I have been very fortunate to have met and worked with so many brilliant and interesting people along the way.
“You can't go back and change the beginning but you can start where you are and change the ending” – C.S. Lewis

What advice would you give your young self?

Persevere. Don't give up on your dreams. If there is something that you believe passionately in then stick with it and make it happen.

“Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not: nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not: the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent” - Calvin Coolidge

What would you like to be remembered for?

For believing that mediation, ADR, a non-adversarial approach to relationships, really is the way for us, as human beings, to solve problems, whether personal, national or international. For being part, however small, of the shift in consciousness in people and in organizations to a transforming the way we relate to and do business with one another on a daily basis. For knowing that we can and must wake up to this possibility and stop war, violence, hatred, poverty, hunger, disease, hopelessness, helplessness and the destruction of the earth itself.
“We don't have to wait for some grand utopian future. The future is an infinite succession of presents, and to live now as we think human beings should live, in defiance of all that is bad around us, is itself a marvelous victory.” - Howard Zinn

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