Nicola Roberts says it was nice to "fly the nest" after Girls Aloud split up.
The 30-year-old singer - who was joined by Cheryl Fernandez-Versini, Nadine Coyle, Sarah Harding and Kimberley Walsh in the girl group - knows her old bandmates will always be there for her no matter what, but has enjoyed being her own person and finding independence since they disbanded in 2013.
Asked what empowers her, she exclusively told BANG Showbiz: "I think the girls being in a band together, five girls, you very much have to work as a team.
Friends that you make that you choose to have around. Women in general in my life. They [the girls] are always on the other end of the line. I think it is good to fly the nest."
The flame-haired beauty also says being surrounded by "strong" women from the beginning of her career has also empowered her.
She said: "I am lucky in my life that I've always had a lot of really strong friends.
From the beginning of my career when I was 16, the majority of my team were always female.
"I am lucky that I've grown up around women who are strong, driven and career-minded women.
"Just great women around me which is really fortunate thing."
Aside from being in the 'Love Machine' group, Nicola released solo album 'Cinderella's Eyes' in 2011 and now spends her time writing songs for other artists, which over the years has included Little Mix and Cheryl's solo album 'Only Human'.