I appear on Newsnight and Woman's Hour why do I feel like an imposter?

Posted on June 23, 2015

Despite her high profile and impressive achievements, Ruth Ibegbuna still wrestles with her inner voice that makes her feel unworthy.

As a charity chief executive I am constantly thrust into situations where I am expected to deliver inspiring talks, share hard-hitting case studies and mastermind fundraising successes, which often requires me to fall back on my innate ability to blag. I feel like an imposter – too often worrying that luck and timing brought me my success, rather than graft, skill and brains. 

I am a state-school-educated 39-year-old woman from Bradford and feel that I’ve been granted a temporary golden ticket into the hallowed corridors of leadership. I often feel that other charity leaders know instinctively how to walk into important spaces, how to announce themselves in a room, how to be that instantly credible chief executive.

I spend much of my working life racing through Euston station to a variety of impressive London meetings. But I then find myself wrestling with that shrill, ever-present voice in my head that mocks my lovely accent and further rounds my West Yorkshire vowels.

I am continually labelled a strong woman, and it feels churlish to turn down incredible opportunities, but I rarely feel I have the right to take them. I’ve thrown myself into terrifying situations that give me the opportunity to represent my charity nationally and internationally. I agreed to appear on Newsnight and, while I survived, the agonising self-doubt and very real terror returned as Kirsty Wark turned to me on camera. And I know I am not alone. I appeared with two other women on Woman’s Hour recently, and when Jenni Murray stated that we were particularly powerful individuals we all strenuously denied it. We were influencers and would leave power to others, thank you very much.

I was also shocked to find that many of my colleagues on the Clore Social Leadership programme feel the same, despite factual evidence that we have years of success in the social sector – working miracles with rapidly diminishing budgets and helping others have better lives.


This blog first appeared in the Guardian Voluntary Sector Network.

Have your say!

(Max approx. 500 words)

Your name:

Please provide your email address for verification:

NB: Your email address will never be displayed, but your comments will not show until you have verified it by clicking the link within the email that will be sent to the address provided here after you click the 'Post comment' button below.

Ruth Ibegbuna

Ruth Ibegbuna

Activist and campaigner for young people

View all blogs by Ruth Ibegbuna

Read full profile

Contact us
0207 812 3770
5th Floor, Kings Place, 90 York Way
London, N19AG

Charity: 1136727
Reg: 7222275
Our site uses cookies. If you continue, we'll assume you are happy for your web browser to receive all cookies from our site. Cookie Policy.

Twitter LinkedIn Youtube