Nikki Walker is a qualified accountant who started her career in a traditional finance role before quickly moving into commercial finance supporting sales teams. Her desire to join a blue-chip company took determination and resilience, but one which resulted in her working for Coca Cola and Schwarzkopf before joining Cisco.
While at Cisco she grew her skillset, becoming part of the big deal team; her role was to work with sales teams to make sure the best terms were being negotiated and risks were mitigated. This included working on Cisco’s first ever billion dollar deal. She then moved into an operational role on the EMEA board, leading the inclusion, diversity, and sustainability teams before deciding to leave the corporate world to pursue a different type of career.
Nikki set up three companies, which related to building inclusive cultures, supporting and coaching CEOs and a webinar platform to enable global organisations to maximise their female talent. It was during this time she met the founder of QCS and began some consultancy to help them define their strategy. After completing that the CEO asked her to come and work for him which she declined so he started a campaign to get her on board; Nikki now leads the UK business.
While Nikki received corporate training, she maintains a growth mindset and believes strongly in constantly learning using the abundance of free content, podcasts, and discovering amazing things that make it easy.
Nikki has four recommendations for women to think about as they progress their careers:
1. Never stop learning – this will benefit you personally and professionally
2. Don’t be afraid to ask – if you want a sponsor, definitely go and talk to someone about it and have a conversation. Ask if they can help you or open a door for you. It can be as easy as asking to start having a regular coffee catch up.
3. Be brave – do some things you’re too scared to do. If you’re offered an opportunity but don’t think you can do it, remember someone else certainly thinks you can. Therefore, take calculated risks and go for it and ask for what you need to succeed.
4. Be ready to help by helping first.
“If you’re not getting what you want where you are, consider moving onto somewhere else. There is so much opportunity right now and there are people desperate for female talent. if you’re a great woman and your organisation doesn’t recognise what you bring, go and be a great woman somewhere else!”
Read the full interview with Nikki here.