International Women’s Day Interview – Grace

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International Women’s Day Interview – Grace

Name: Grace Bowden
Role: Marketing Manager

Why do you think it is important to celebrate International Women’s Day?
International Women’s Day is a historical day that we can now appreciate, women didn’t use to have the same right to work and vote, so we should remember the hard journey they went on for the lives and equality we have now in Europe. We should also take time to support and help those places who are not yet as fortunate as us and not be ignorant to the fact that many countries still do not have women’s rights and equality.

Have you faced any barriers in your career due to being a woman? If so, how did you overcome them?
If I am being completely honest no, I think due to being born in the UK and the fact that I am under 30 means that I have entered the work place in a time of great equality. Since I left university I have always felt supported and propelled as a woman in business, it is also in my nature to be strong and I have never felt inhibited by my gender but empowered. I hope this will continue and spread for women globally. When I worked in Switzerland they had a very strong women’s outlook on equality, they were one of the first countries to enter the IWD and socialist committees in the early 1900s.
I have however experienced inequality in my travels outside of work to areas such as Tunisia and Israel, who are still on the journey to equality. It was an important eye opener for me to see that not all countries treat women equally yet and there is still a way to go globally.

What is the most important piece of advice you have been given?
If you have enough passion and drive for what you want to do, you will get there.
Never be scared to ask questions, no question is a bad question.
Don’t be scared to make mistakes, the learning makes you stronger.
Seek first to understand, then be understood.
The expert was once the beginner, we are all always learning.
Go as far as you can see; when you get there, you’ll be able to see further.
Don’t live to work, work to live. Work life balance is key.

How can we encourage more women to pursue entrepreneurship or senior leadership roles in their career?
It is actually difficult for me to answer this as I see no segmentation myself in men and women in leadership in the UK. I think personal life and the biological reasoning around career development halting due to child birth could affect it. However, I do think there are ways around this now and men and women are being given more opportunity to share this.

I would encourage both men and women to speak up and ensure their opinions and ideology is heard, no question is a bad question. Just enjoy yourself, if you don’t enjoy your job and want to get up and go to work, maybe its not the career for you. Everyone has different goals and values. I have always been confident in my abilities in the work place and personally have never felt any inadequacy with my gender. I understand that some other roles may have more resistance in this area but I would just always say, never doubt yourself even if you find yourself in a male orientated role. This goes for men in women orientated roles too, have confidence in your passion and abilities, ask questions if you are unsure.

What is the most important message you want to send out to young women thinking about their careers?
I would say the same thing to any young women, man or gender neutral person. If you ever feel you are being discriminated against, always come forward and address it as it should never be endured by anyone.

Whatever role you want in life, whether it be a stay at home mum, a doctor, or a CEO and business leader. Strive for what you want and have confidence and passion in your abilities, everyone has different goals and values in life. Everyone has set backs but these are key for learning and development. Do what makes you happy, if it is your passion success will come naturally.

Is there anyone that inspires you in your career?
My old HR director, she was a HR director for thousands of people across EMEA (Europe, Middle east and Africa), one of the strongest women in business I know, she took me under her wing and had a personal interest in my development. I feel I learnt a lot in business confidence and assertiveness during my time working along side her from an intern level to where I am today.

Many people inspire me inside and outside of my work subject for a range of reasons. David Attenborough inspires me to value the natural environment which is a key part of my role, I changed from working in Hydraulics to working in a sustainable development company so I can feel pride that my work is doing good for the natural environment helping me ethically enjoy my role. I think it is important that you feel you are making a difference in anything you do.

Why do you think diversity in the workplace is so important?
Diversity is always important to me, it makes me personally more comfortable in my workplace if it is diverse whether it be gender, disability or race. I have visited over 40 countries and seen hundreds of cultures, my family is English, Danish, Nordic, Canadian, Chinese, Malay, Scottish and I personally value all kinds of people around me. I have lived and worked in 3 countries and I really see value in a diverse work place.

I think anyone and everyone should have the opportunity to do any job they are passionate about. Diversity and inclusion is key to ensure we get the most out of our work place experience, and vital for us to learn and understand different people’s perspectives. Being open to everyone and everything can only make you develop as a person and business.

If you could have dinner with three inspirational women, dead or alive, who would they be and why?
This is a tough one, if I’m choosing three people and can’t include my mum, as I fortunately get to have dinner with her often, then they would be:

Rosa Parks: An African American living in Montgomery, Alabama, challenged the race segregation that existed in parts of the US by refusing to give up her seat on a bus in 1955 so that a white person could sit down.

Anastasia Khoo (My Cousin): She is the CEO of Conservation National in Washington DC and her important work in protecting our planet is a real inspiration to me.

Amelia Earhart: First woman to fly solo across the Atlantic and over the next five years continued to break speed and flying records. I feel in my past life this could have been me, If I wasn’t in business I would have been a pilot, I love to travel and am very independent.