Celebrating inspirational women: Charlotte Wynne-Jones
Self-doubt about what we’re capable of is a common occurrence for many of us and can hold us back from being the best we can be. While it can be tough to overcome, there are practical ways to improve low self-confidence.
Charlotte Wynne-Jones, RAF Officer and HR specialist, talks about the struggles she faced with building her confidence at the beginning of her career and shares some of the tactics she used to overcome it, including observing and employing strategies of women she admires, visualising successful outcomes and practising key presentations.
She also discusses the award that’s made her proud and how her career in the RAF has helped her become the ultimate wedding planner!
Charlotte's path so far:
2009: Joined the Personnel Administration trade group in a non-commissioned role
2016-2017: Officer training
2017-2018 - Station Adjutant
2018-2019 Work Services Infrastructure, Odiham
2019-2021 HQ Operationally focussed role, Odiham
2021: Service Discipline and Welfare Officer, Cornwall
You got married a few weeks ago. Congratulations! How has the preparation been with the changing guidelines?
[Laughs out loud]! My career has led me to be the ultimate wedding coordinator and party planner! Our wedding has been postponed three times over the past 14 months. What we had originally planned looks nothing like the party we ended up having, it turned out so much better!
The ability to spin lots of plates at once, problem-solve in a very short space of time and think out-of-the box to get the results I want, are all aspects of my job on a daily basis. They’re essentially the life skills the RAF has given me!
What have the greatest challenges of your career been so far?
Without a doubt, overcoming my lack of self-belief to become an Officer.
When I originally applied to join the RAF it was assumed that I would go for my commission because I had A-levels, but the AFCO advised that I needed more life experience and self-confidence and they suggested I join in the ranks first, which I did and loved. However, I put off going for my commission for nearly 8 years as I just didn’t have the confidence in myself to apply. It felt like a bit of a vicious circle! So, I started attending Commissioning Club – a regular meeting aimed at guiding currently serving non-commissioned personnel on how to apply for Commission and work through the different aspects of what’s required.
How did that help you?
Watching other people practise interviews and presentations, and realising that everyone found this hard was a big takeaway for me. I hadn’t understood that people actually prepared these types of skills, I’d assumed that you either had it, and were good at it, or you didn’t. As soon as I realised that this was actually about the effort and work you put in, I studied every night. I ran through interviews, read about current events, rehearsed public speaking and dedicated myself to going after it!
How did it turn out?
After 18 months at Commissioning Club, I applied for my commission and went to the Officer and Aircrew Selection Centre. It was the perfect day. I’d been inspired by a book called ‘Let Your Mind Run’ by Deena Kastor, which uses the basis of sports psychology to visualise the ideal outcome in your head. I envisaged each step of my selection process as a blinding performance. This gave me so much confidence on the day that I felt like it all went perfectly to plan, and two weeks later I was told I had been successful.
I now run the Commissioning Club at Odiham! It’s one of my favourite additional duties and having fought my own battles to get where I am, I want to help others do the same.
Looking back, what words of wisdom would you share with your younger self?
“Believe in yourself. Be determined and prepared to work for what you really want.”
It was the realisation that I needed to take responsibility for what I wanted that got me putting in the effort and going after it.
I’d also say, “look at the people you admire and learn from their success strategies. Read about inspirational women but don’t forget they’re normal people just like you and me. If they can do it, so can you!”
What do you see as the greatest highlight of your career so far?
In the past, I would probably have said it was becoming a Commissioned Officer, but I received a Commander Joint Helicopter Command Commendation in this New Year’s Honours List, which made me super proud! I had identified an issue which was affecting our deployed personnel and was able to raise it quickly with Defence, analyse it and put forward a solution.
The Commendation was awarded because I had “recognised the real person behind each name and strived to reduce the impact on each and every one.” Being able to make a difference is what makes my job important to me and it’s what I love about it.
What are your strategies for success at work?
Being friendly, helpful and kind goes a really long way. There can be misconceptions about what the military is about. Being good at my job means I bring my true self and my personality to work. When I pick up the phone or open my door, I always try to be cheerful no matter what’s been thrown at me. It’s helpful to remember what it feels like when someone miserable answers the phone – it’s never very positive for either party.
I’ve also got much better at protecting my time and shutting down my screen at a sensible hour. Seeing my productivity and performance increase has helped reinforce that this has been a good strategy to adopt.
What do the next few months hold for you?
Honeymoon and then a move! I’m being posted down to Cornwall and will be responsible for Service discipline and Welfare. My husband, Matt, works remotely, so we’re moving down in September with our dog. I can’t wait!
All the best Charlotte for the next chapter!!