Gleneagles Townhouse
International Women's Day 2022

A Letter to our 13 Year Old Selves

Here at Gleneagles, we’re proud to be a gender-balanced organisation, with half of all positions in our team held by women.

This trend is present at all levels across the business, from career-entry roles through to our executive committee which also comprises 50% women.  From women who are just starting out in their careers and those who are inspiring the next generation, to those who win awards, lead the field and continue to break boundaries, we’re proud of all the women whose contributions, talents and efforts make Gleneagles what it is!

In celebration of International Women’s Day, we asked three Gleneagles women who are industry leaders and role models in their respective fields to write letters to their 13-year-old selves – a confidence-boosting message of support, guidance and encouragement and a chance to share all the insights and learnings they’ve gathered with experience.  Here’s what they had to say!

Emma Simpson, People Director, Gleneagles

Dear Emma,

Today is International Women’s Day. A day every year where we celebrate women’s achievements, raising awareness against gender bias and promoting action for equality, across the globe.

Whilst you don’t yet experience it through your own eyes, gender inequality exists in many different guises across the world, and so we use this day to promote a future where difference is valued and celebrated.

Whilst I know you champion the belief that you’re just as capable, strong, and determined as any of the boys in your class at school and strenuously object to any special treatment based on your sex – a position that will remain with you throughout your life and career – one day you’ll realise that your experiences and privileges aren’t shared commonly or equally among women across the world.

However, you’ll also come to recognise there’s rich learning and opportunity that comes from sharing our personal experiences and listening to those of others. We must also engage men in the conversation so that they recognise the impact of their biases, use our voices to influence and effect change, and be the ally that women need us to be.

One day you’ll also have the delightful honour to lead in an organisation that’s gender balanced at every level and where you feel the palpable benefits of equality, inclusion, and diversity. Until that day, here are some of my learnings from the past 30 years, which I hope you’ll hold tight along the way.

First things first, you’re going to make it through – through this, through everything.

No matter how terrible things seem, it’s not the end of everything. Trauma creates change you don’t choose, but when you come out the other side and start to heal, then you’ll be able to create the chances you do choose. This is the ultimate test of your character. You must do your own believing, your own forgiving, your own living. Everything you want is on the other side.

Create the life you want to live. Make decisions you can feel good about. Do this for yourselves. There’s never a wrong time to give yourself what you need. Keep fighting for what you believe in. One day you’ll realise how much strength it takes to lean on others, how being vulnerable means being real, and how forgiveness heals. Nobody else is going to do it for you. Nobody else can think, can love, or can live in your space.

Learn to see failure as an opportunity for learning and growth

Embrace everything you experience, even the things that don’t feel good. Because when you do that, you learn so much more about yourself. You don’t have to apologise for figuring yourself out. You don’t have to be like everyone else or be liked by everyone else. You have your own place in the world, your own worth. You’ll also come to realise that you learn just as much from the assholes as you do your advocates.

Come alive with every tear and thrill. You’ll grow and you’ll trip over your own feet long after you thought you had it all figured out. That’s okay, you’re in good company!

But don’t take yourself too seriously, either, because nobody has it all figured out, even the ones who think they do and especially the ones who say they do. Everybody is afraid of something and wants more than anything to belong.

When you’re afraid to ask for help, go ahead and ask anyway.

There’s no wrong path. Truly, there isn’t.

There are only paths we had not known we were meant to walk and why would you want to walk the same path as everyone else anyway?

Whichever path you take remember that “the path to success is to take massive, determined action”. Pick a path and work hard because luck looks a heck of a lot like hard work. Whatever you choose to do, show up and do it to the very best of your ability, every day. Become famous for whatever it is you do. Do it proudly and do it well.

When you decide, the time has come to change paths, do so purposefully and choose carefully when opportunities present themselves, and they will!

Remember too that further education is no substitute for hard work and experience. It only complements it. Do it now, do it later in life, don’t do it at all. You’ll learn more on a job than you will from a book. A degree only demonstrates commitment to an employer, unless of course you’re following a vocational path. Qualifications can give you the additional credibility you need to perform a role, but alone they’re worthless. Organisations want to hire people with the experience, drive and determination to deliver exceptional results. Period.

Should this land in the hands of someone else, I hope you too will read this and realise:

  • It’s never too late to be the person you needed when you were younger
  • It’s never a wrong time to give yourself what you need
  • If what you need is forgiveness for past wrongs or acceptance of who you are today or appreciation for how far you’ve come, this letter is yours to read.

Gratefully yours,


Jane McGee, Commercial Director, Gleneagles

Dear Jane,

Yes, you are over six-foot-tall in your stocking feet but just embrace it!  You don’t appreciate it now, but you’ll learn to love it and stand tall.

I want you to keep a watch-out for your exams which will be looming in the next few years, and to recognise that the road that lies ahead of you isn’t always going to be easy or straight.

There will be lots of hard work and many obstacles and bumps along the way for you, Jane, but don’t give up because whatever is thrown at you in life, you’re strong and can take it in your stride.  It might not feel like that when you’re in the middle of it, but one day you’ll look back and realise these obstacles were actually the making of you.

You’ve not honed your multi-tasking skills yet and sometimes you can be daunted by the pressure of bigger school projects, but that will change with time and experience – years from now you’re going to be an expert in juggling and you’ll be comfortable tackling projects head-on, so don’t lose faith.

The quiet life in Scotland is all you know at the moment, but you’ll eventually want to stretch your wings when the dizzy heights of London come calling.  Take every opportunity that is given to you Jane, for this is going to be one of the biggest learning curves and most exciting chapters of your life. Some of the people you meet will become life-long friends, while others will fade or disappear altogether. And that’s perfectly normal, so don’t lament fleeting relationships – not everyone in your life is supposed to be in it for the long haul.

The world will truly be your oyster, so go for it – follow your dreams, travel the world, live the vibrant city life to the max, and take in as many experiences as you can. Soak up the fast pace and enjoy the opportunity to live your life with very few responsibilities, because, like every chapter in life, it won’t last forever.

After 20 years, the glitter of London will start to fade for you.  That part of your life will come to an end and Scotland will come calling because once you get married and welcome your wonderful son, your priorities are going to change.  You’ll recognise in a way you can’t possibly understand right now the importance of family and will have the privilege of living close to your parents again, raising your child in a beautiful rural community, and living on a working hill farm.  How things change, Jane, and change is a good thing!

Life back in Scotland will present many new and different opportunities – don’t be shy at trying new things and getting involved in the community.  You’ll never believe this, but you’re going to find fulfilment and a new lease of life from all sorts of experiences you’ve never tried before – from pulling pints at a pop-up village pub, being on the committee of the local Women’s Institute and joining a running club – and discover things about yourself that take you by surprise.  You’re only 13, so trust me, there’s a lot you don’t know about yourself yet and so much that the world has to teach you – always stay open-minded to learning new things and don’t be put off by people poking fun of what you choose to do with your time.  It’s your life to live, not theirs!

So Jane, life may look daunting to you at the moment but I promise you everything will be okay, so don’t take yourself or life too seriously.  Everyone experiences self-doubt at times, especially at your age, because that’s what makes us human, but you’ll learn that the best policy is usually to ignore the doubt and give it everything you can. Live it to the full and never stop laughing, smiling and having fun – this life is for living!

Love Jane

Catriona Matthew, Gleneagles Golf Ambassador; 2019 & 2021 Solheim Cup captain; and the first Scottish woman to win a major

Dear Catriona,

I know you’re focused on your badminton, hockey, tennis and golf right now, but I promise you that your passion and talent for sports will never leave you, so it’s okay to put down the rackets and clubs for a minute and hear me out.

Your music teacher told you the other day that you should give up music. He’s right, Catriona – you’re tone deaf – but you are destined for much more exciting things than his music class.

At the moment you’re spending all your time playing sports, not because you think you can make a career of it, but simply because you love it. There are no women’s sports for you to watch on TV and no professional female sportspeople who might inspire or encourage you to reach their level. But perceptions about women in sport are going to change dramatically in your lifetime. You can’t see yourself having a career in sport right now, because such careers don’t exist for women yet and female athletes are not offered equal opportunities on the sporting stage.  But you’ll see that really shift in your lifetime, with superb work being done on an international scale to encourage female sports participation and achieve gender equality on and off the field of play.

And while the current status quo might be unfair, it’s actually giving you an advantage that you won’t appreciate for many decades to come. There is no pressure on you right now to progress or succeed in sport, which means you have no reason to doubt yourself. You are playing for the pure fun and enjoyment without fears about the future or whether you’re good enough.  Future generations of girls who show your aptitude for sport will face pressures to succeed that you can’t even imagine right now and this will actually hinder many of them from reaching their full potential.  Don’t even get me started on social media.

So carry on enjoying yourself, Catriona, because everything is as it should be. I know it’s hard to imagine this at the moment, when your main ambition on the court or the course is simply to beat your two big brothers. They might be gloating and teasing you at the moment, because they can hit the ball harder and faster than you, but here’s a wee secret . . .  one day you’ll have the last laugh.

Your desire to beat your brothers will instil a competitive edge that will take you all the way. Not only will you start beating them very soon – believe it or not, you’re going to reach the very pinnacle of professional sport.  You’ll become a six-times Ladies European Tour winner, a four-times LGPA Tour winner, a British Open Champion, and you’ll be the first European to captain back-to-back Solheim Cup victories!

Well done for sticking in at your academic studies at the moment too.  You’re playing sport six days a week, but I’m so proud of you for always finding the time to apply yourself to schoolwork and homework with the same dedication. Right now, you’re not thinking about how this is teaching you about the importance and benefit of discipline and time management, but that’s exactly what it’s doing.  This disciplined approach to your studies will help to shape the sportsperson you’ll eventually become.

You’re missing out a bit on the social side of life right now.  You’re pretty shy, you feel different to the other girls and you even get a wee bit lonely at times, but that’s because you live in a tiny town where there aren’t others like you who really get your interest and passion for sport.  Don’t fret or worry about this or let it affect your self-confidence. As you get older and you progress in sport and move further afield, you’ll start meeting girls with the same interests, passions and talents and you’ll fit right in.

With time, that confidence of yours is going to grow – one day you’ll be doing TV interviews all over the world, delivering speeches and leading teams to victory, so I can assure you you’re going to find your voice.

Love Catriona