Starting a new role is difficult at the best of times. Doing it during a global pandemic even more so.
It was June 2020. In my own little corner of the world, I’d just got back from a run to burn off the last of the nervous energy from my interview. Then a phone call. I’d got the role. Result.
The new role – research and evaluation lead for learning – was created to bring more oomph to how Sport England learns from research and evaluation. It felt perfect, like the culmination of all my professional experience and aspirations rolled into one, and I was excited at the opportunity to support our new strategy Uniting the Movement.
But the uncertain reality made it difficult to gain a foothold in the new role. Normal work was largely paused as we scrambled to respond to Covid-19. Meanwhile I, like many people, found myself working at home battling a sense of isolation and loss of connection.
Big projects kept me busy, like managing our regular Covid-19 activity tracker, and leading a rapid review of inclusive physical activity and ways to reduce inequalities in sport.
But throughout, the nagging sensation that these big projects were masking a lack of agency at a day-to-day level. So too, the feeling that I lacked the internal compass and conviction of where and how my role fitted in.
Like Covid, these feelings stuck around longer than I would have liked. Then, in November 2021, an offer of mentoring from the Insight Management Academy presented a chance to address some of these insecurities.