1. Why do you think it is important to celebrate International Women’s Day?
It is important to celebrate International Women’s day as there are still many areas of life where women lose out purely based on their gender. Statistics show that a gender pay gap still exists around the globe and that women are not represented in equal numbers to men in business or politics. I look forward to a future when International Women’s Day is no longer necessary.
2. Have you faced any barriers in your career due to being a woman? If so, how did you overcome them?
In my early career, I sometimes struggled to be taken seriously by some older male colleagues. I overcome this by working hard. I felt it was important to prove I was just as competent in my role as they were. I was also never afraid to speak up and stick up for myself when necessary!
3. What is the most important piece of advice you have been given?
The below is advice that has resonated with me in recent years which applies to all areas of our lives:
People often choose unhappiness over uncertainty. They will stay in a job or relationship where they are miserable rather than take a leap of faith into something new. Uncertainty can be a wonderful thing; it’s important to go outside of your comfort zone.
If you can throw yourself into the unknown, you will grow and develop.
4. What is the most important message you want to send out to young women thinking about their careers?
I would say follow whatever career path you choose, don’t feel that your gender, upbringing or anything else will hold you back. Believe in your own abilities, don’t listen to anyone who tries to discourage you. Work Hard and always speak up for yourself in all areas of your life. On average we spend at least 30% of our lives working so you need to ensure that you choose the right career path, something which you are passionate about and will gain the most job satisfaction from.
5. Is there anyone that inspires you in your career?
I think that Mary Portas is an inspirational woman in the business world. She had a tough upbringing and had to forego her own further education to look after her younger siblings. This didn’t stop her from working her way up from a Saturday job in John Lewis to a member of the board at Harvey Nichols before the age of 30. Mary has also campaigned to highlight the issues women face in the employment world, such as workplace bullying, accessing promotion and equal pay. I also like her no-nonsense, straight-talking attitude!
6. Why do you think diversity in the workplace is so important?
Diversity is important as the more people you have with different backgrounds, experiences and perspectives, the greater variety of fresh new ideas will be brought to the company. This should help the company to solve problems faster and lead to better decision making.
A workplace that encourages diversity and inclusion will make employees feel valued and accepted which benefits everyone.
7. How can we encourage more women to pursue entrepreneurship or senior leadership roles in their career?
I think leadership skills should be taught to young women in schools, where they can become second nature which will help them in their future career. Young women in work will also be encouraged by other women in senior roles at their workplace. I remember earlier in my career being the only woman in the management meetings. Luckily this is not the case at the Pilot Group we have a lot of strong women in our management teams!
8. If you could have dinner with three inspirational women, dead or alive, who would they be and why?
Emmeline Pankhurst – best remembered for organizing the UK suffragette movement and helping women win the right to vote. I think it would be wonderful to understand what drove Emmeline to action. It must have taken so much courage and bravery to act as she did against the inequality of women during the 1900s when this was almost unheard of.
My Grandmother – she passed away a long time ago unfortunately. But she was a very strong lady, who raised a family and worked whilst my Grandfather was away fighting in World War 2. She was a comical, fiery character, it would be great to hear her opinion on how women’s role in society has changed since she was alive.
Adele Adkins – the very successful singer-songwriter, with over 120 million records sold. I think she has a great personality, would be a great company and hopefully would give us a song too!