Episode 16 – Francesca Taphouse: The Extraordinary Ordinary Series.

I am really excited to bring you these answers because I honestly think that a lot of young women (and more mature women) could learn an awful lot from Francesca. She’s incredibly smart, driven and someone who has proven that you don’t need to take a conventional path when it comes to education to have a fantastic career and be a women driving difference and opportunity in a big global tech company. She decided to pursue an apprenticeship option after sixth form rather than going to University, and it’s proven itself again and again as the right decision. It takes serious guts to break away from the norm of your peers, and what people expect of you, to do something new and bold. I love that Francesca embraced this opportunity and has made it her own.

Frankie is also my sister (step-sister to be precise) but having had this hilarious, girl-boss in my life for way over a decade, I don’t like to use these half labels.

Francesca is fun to be around, and she’s always surprising. She is challenging all stereotypes that sadly we see too often still in the media and even shared by our peers today. That women can’t be obsessed with beauty and makeup and also be a junior management consultant in one of the world’s top tech companies. By the way, Frankie is incredible at both and I will forever be envious of both her contouring and consulting skills.

She knows that to get what you want, you need to set goals and work hard towards them. A huge advocate of lists and plans, Frankie advises that unless you can put your ideas clearly on paper, and start bringing them to life, they will continue to remain concepts in your mind rather than finishes project, life plans or results. I think I can learn a lot from this. Perhaps sometimes it’s best to empty your head of thoughts so you can really focus on the task at hand and get stuff done.

Oh, and I forgot to mention, you can’t be in a room with her for more than five minutes before breaking out in laughter.

Honestly, I am really excited to share with you her answers. She’s the youngest person I have questioned so far, but I think her insights show maturity and understanding way beyond her years that we could all learn from.


So here are her answers to my twelve questions:

What makes you happy?

Primarily, it is spending time with family and friends socialising. I’m a shopaholic at heart too so I would quite happily shop every day of the week if I could. Whoops…

What book had the biggest impact on your life?

Without sounding completely boring, I would say textbooks that helped me massively when revising for my exams. As serious and dull as that may seem, my A Level exams were one of the first, big milestones in my life as my next steps were dependent on them, and so as the question is what books have had the greatest impact on my life, it would have to be those. Or I suppose the highway code … ha ha.

I do massively enjoy reading, but I tend to read fiction (unless I need to read up on a specific non-fiction topic) and so it would be a hard argument to try to convince you that Marian Keyes has had the greatest impact on my life – but I do thoroughly enjoy her books!

What quote, or saying, do you live by?

You can’t do all of the things all of the time – Emily Coxhead

Emily is the founder of The Happy Newspaper and I love what she stands for – If you haven’t heard of her, I would recommend giving her a quick search on Instagram. She’s absolutely brilliant!

How do you remain, or regain, your focus?

I am a huge to-do list person! The amount of notebooks I have is slightly laughable. I love stationery regardless, but if I feel I’m swamped with things to do and I’m losing focus because I’ve got too many ideas floating around or things I’m thinking about then I have to write a to-do list. Mapping it all out on one page and seeing it all listed helps clear my mind and regain focus on what the priorities should be, and what can wait. I have to map out my workload like this otherwise I end up trying to start everything and then I end up with several pieces of work at 10% complete rather than one or two pieces of work ticked off and finished.

What inspires you?

People who are truly happy, and people who are passionate.

What are your top three priorities?

  1. To be kind and caring in everyday life.
  2. To be able to say I tried my best at everything I do, whether it works out or not.
  3. To stop buying anymore notebooks until I deplete the 100 I have already… (They’re all very different by the way J )

What’s the biggest misconception about you?

I know a few people have said to family or friends that they think I’m quiet or shy. Those that know me best usually laugh and say she is certainly not quiet. Once I know people I love laughing and joking with those I love most. I think initially I’m just not the most extrovert of people that you’ll meet, but with family and close friends it’s quite the opposite.

What two purchases have you made this year that you really value / had most impact?

  1. A Birchbox subscription – It’s like Christmas every month when it is delivered to my house. I think it’s so important to reward yourself and remember that you can treat yourself when you want to.
  2. A backpack for work – I went through 3 ‘handbag’ style laptop bags before the 3rd one broke and I thought enough of this, I need a backpack. Running around London on the tube with a little suitcase for the week and a handbag was just a mess. The first day I wore that rucksack – where I could comfortably use one hand, while pulling my case along with the other – was the moment I knew I was never going back. I don’t want to sound materialistic, it’s not a Gucci rucksack or anything like that, but it has honestly helped me no end.

Top tips for someone who wants to do what you do?

Work wise, as a Junior Management Consultant within IBM, I would say take the plunge in an Apprenticeship if you’re debating it as a route into employment.

Gain experience and know your options. There are so many options for school leavers nowadays that I would stress to anyone do not be siloed into anything. For example, many companies offer one-year work experience schemes for school leavers before they move onto to further education (either an Apprenticeship or University, for example) so take advantage of such schemes if you’re unsure on what route to take. A year in industry like this can help make the decisions a lot easier when you see things in a real-world environment. During your education, it can often feel that the decisions about your career at a young age will define the rest of your life, but since getting into employment I have found and have heard from those more experienced that this is less and less true.

What are you most proud of?

Sticking to my guns about taking an Apprenticeship over going to University when I left Sixth Form. It was a hard decision to make when all of my friends were applying to university and discussing all aspects of moving away from home, but I am glad I was true to myself and applied for an Apprenticeship.

An unusual habit of yours?

This is tough because I can’t personally think of any about myself … which probably means all my family are reading this thinking she should have said “X,Y,Z..!”

I suppose I could say that I’m a bit of a hoarder – Sentimentally and also just stupidly. I hate throwing away make up bottles, for example, even if the product is dried up and I know I can’t use it anymore! I think it’s a weird thought process of mine that if I still have the bottle there is the potential I could still salvage something from it in an emergency.

What do you do every single day?

  1. Check social media
  2. Listen to Spotify – Whenever I’m driving, my phone will almost certainly be plugged into Spotify to listen to music. So either driving, or sat on a train, I would say pretty much everyday I listen to music at some point.
  3. Laugh – Whether it be in response to a friends message, or having a giggle with family, or looking back on old videos that I’ve kept for the very reason that they make me laugh, a day rarely passes where I don’t laugh… Or truly cackle!

Frankie, I am so grateful you took the time out to answer these from your incredibly busy life, as they are all really valuable insights.  

Her Key Advice:

  • Stay true to yourself and stick to your guns.
  • Don’t be afraid that making decisions at a young age means it will affect your whole life. You can shape your life, take a chance and experience all opportunities and areas. Don’t fear being siloed into something and don’t let yourself.
  • Map out what you need to do in a to-do list if feeling busy or overwhelmed.  Seeing it all listed helps clear your mind and regain focus on what the priorities should be.
  • Follow the Happy Newspaper!
  • Laugh every day

If you want to follow more from Frankie and her incredible life, you can find her on Instagram at @frankietaphouse



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