F equals for women on the rise

Sophie Radcliffe

NATALIE BARDEGA

Posted on February 25 2015

We are thrilled to have the incredible Sophie Radcliffe as this week's Wednesday Woman! Having originally started out working in the tech industry, she now runs her own business and - Challenge Sophie has one mission - to show that challenges in the great outdoors are accessible and achievable by everyone. Read her story here:- 

Bardega: What were you like growing up? Who inspired you? 
Radcliffe: My mum says I was always adventurous when I was growing up. I was a real water baby; I just loved getting wet and muddy, whether it was playing in puddles, rivers, lakes, forests or climbing trees. One thing I remember is having a very, shall we say... individual dress sense! My mum used to let me get on with it and find my own style and way, encouraging and supporting me to carve my own path in life but without forcing me in any particular direction. She has definitely been an inspiration to me as well as people who have rewritten the rules in their own way.

Bardega: You have had a varied career - can you tell us more about your background and how you got into tech?
Radcliffe: I started my career out of uni in sales for a tech company, I loved the buzz of working in a dynamic, fast-paced environment. I loved how quickly the company grew and what that meant for my own progression and, within two years, I was building and growing my own team which suited me because I loved the responsibility and pressure of managing and leading people.
I found my adventures just fuelled my desire to achieve more and also challenged me in the work place and so this led me to taking on more and more responsibility.

Bardega: You are also a fantastic athlete and sports writer - what motivated you to get into endurance sports?
Radcliffe: Thank you! I've always been intrigued by big challenges like swimming the English Channel and climbing Mount Everest. I wanted to challenge myself and found the first event that inspired me to do so - an adventure race in the jungle of Borneo! From there, everything just followed with one adventure after another, all motivating me to go out there and see what I was made of. Cycling London to Paris in 24 hours, completing an Ironman triathlon, climbing Mont Blanc... and my favourite one of all, the Alpine Coast to Coast which I completed last August and which involved cycling the length of the Alps and climbing the highest mountain in each country in 32 days.

Bardega: Impressive. You recently dealt with some old-fashioned sexism when applying for World's Toughest Army. How do you deal with adversity?
Radcliffe: I believe in standing up and fighting for what we believe is right and for what we want in life. If we don't, no-one else will do it for us! We are in control of the results of things that happen to us - all of us will be challenged but it's how we react to those challenges which determines the outcome. When it happens to me, I make a decision about how important the issue is to me ,and then I decide on how to act. In this case, I explained my situation and why I felt it wasn't right reasonably and fairly, without casting judgement, and the rest flowed. I'm amazed and very, very happy that the BBC have since changed their policy.

Bardega: As a female role-model, who inspires and motivates you?
Radcliffe: Everyday-women who are fearless in the way they live. People who deal with change, uncertainty, lack of security, and who go out there and fight for their rights. That might be their right to maternity leave, or to a job that affords them enough time with their family. It might be leaving a relationship that is not healthy for them, starting their own business or dealing with everyday sexism. Dealing with all of this, and finding a way to come out on top. It's the journey that makes us all and that's what I find inspiring; women who let you into theirs and say, "None of us are perfect, we all have struggles and we're doing the best we can".

Bardega: Finally, if you could go back in time, what advice would you give a younger Sophie?
Radcliffe: Believe in yourself! I look back now to the way I thought about my career when I first left uni - it never crossed my mind to run my own business and I didn't think entrepreneurially. Now, it's the opposite! I love running my own business and have so many projects in the pipeline. This is definitely something I have learned and developed. Anyone can do it!

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