By Claire Fennelow
I had the great pleasure of attending Micebook’s International Women’s Day event at the Mandarin Oriental on Monday. One hundred women from the event and hospitality industry all with something to say made for an invigorating day. The inspirational Lorraine Heggessey kicked off the day, telling her story with great humour and tons of advice. The main takeaway being to take risks – without them it’s impossible to grow and move forwards (and up!). And never let your husband drink red wine when you are wearing a (very) expensive cream dress!
We then heard from an array of women sharing their experiences and advice and suggestions as to how to overcome barriers. Jess Charles led a panel discussion about the importance of defining your own strengths and taking control of your career path, which very much chimed with Lorraine’s view that no one but yourself is responsible for your career progression. You and you alone can make the changes you need to make to move forward. But hearing the experiences of others certainly helps you to frame your own experiences and choices. We also got to hear from a panel sharing their views on very specific issues faced by women leaders; burnout, pregnancy, childcare, managing a business during an intense period of crisis and how they navigated their way through.
To put some context around all of this we heard from Emma Abson PhD, Sheffield Hallam University, who shared insights into a research study on women’s experiences of developing leadership careers in the event industry. We were very neatly divided into groups made up of varying degrees of experience to ensure tables were evenly mixed. This was a great device to a) work out exactly how many years’ worth of experience there was in the room and b) making sure you had someone with 31 years worth of experience at the table (me!) and someone with 2 years of experience in the same discussion group. This was followed by discussion. Lots and lots of discussion. My greatest feeling was that if you put a whole lot of women in a room together there is not a problem we couldn’t solve.
The event was rounded off with Kate Munday delivering a very effective piece on effective networking. I for one learned one vital thing – ask the person you are talking to how they want to be communicated with. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve walked away from a really interesting conversation and haven’t taken any details from the person as to how to take the conversation further. So, note to self, be more mindful about contact details that work for them. As a consequence I’ve been very busy on LinkedIn today. Thank you Kate!
And thank you to Micebook and to every single person who attended. I wish I had the opportunity to talk to all of you but for that I’d have needed a week…