IoD East Midlands Women as Leaders Convention

L-R: Sue Smith, Sarah Walker-Smith, Lisa Wainwright, Debra Charles, Louise Third, Clare Hamilton, Carolyn Radford.

Around 100 guests were in attendance at the IoD’s truly inspirational East Midlands Women as Leaders Convention last week, and East Midlands Business Link was privileged to receive an invitation.

The event, held at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Nottingham, saw leading East Midlands women share their business and personal stories on their successes and challenges.

The event was opened by IoD East Midlands Regional Director Ron Lynch, who introduced the host for the afternoon, Louise Third, of Intergra Communication Ltd, a PR and communications consultant specialising in business growth.

The convention was the fourth of its type and saw Carolyn Radford, CEO of Mansfield Town Football Club, as key note speaker. Carolyn became one of only two female CEOs in professional football at age 29, and was challenged with changing perceptions of women in the sport. She has since helped Mansfield Town FC return to the English Football League and has transformed the club’s previously plummeting finances to become profitable business.

In her speech Carolyn said: “Leadership is not just about becoming better today than you were yesterday, but inspiring those around you.” She continued to say that those who succeed are “not always the person who is faster or stronger. The person who wins is the person who thinks they can.”

Carolyn’s speech was followed by audience questions and a break for lunch and dessert. The convention then resumed with the five panel speakers, leaders in their fields, talking about one aspect that has affected their leadership lives.

Picture shows Team Lincolnshire’s John Hebblethwaite, Lisa-Jane Howes, Susan Lovell, Valerie Waby, Alan Willmont, Dawn Barron, Caroline Caitlin, Julia Clark.

Lisa Wainwright, CEO of British Basketball talked about her experience in the UK and internationally. She emphasised that “if you do well you will be recognised, and if you’re not talk about it.” Lisa also importantly noted: “You have to call intimidation out.”

Sue Smith, former joint Chief Executive of Cherwell District Council and South Northamptonshire Council, followed, talking about role models – the importance of having one and being one.

Sarah Walker-Smith, COO of Browne Jacobson and a governor of Nottingham Trent University, then talked about education and the confidence gap between boys and girls.

Debra Charles, CEO and Founder of Novacroft, a smart technology, software solution and customer support company, discussed her entrepreneurial journey, legacy and battle with dyslexia, as well as the challenges she faced as a woman in a technology business.

Finally, Major Clare Hamilton who joined the Army in 2003 and has just started a new role as Directing Staff at the Defence Academy, Shrivenham, reminded delegates that only about 10% of Army personnel are women, and talked about leadership in a challenging environment.

The panel was then open to questions which included queries over failure, working hard vs working smart, the difference in language when describing the work of men and women, and how to be successful at what you love.

Louise then rounded off the event strongly with a summary of tangible takeaways from what the speakers had said during the convention:

  • FEAR-Louise touched upon what Carolyn had said when you are worried about failure. She said fear is simply False Evidence Appearing Real
  • She reminded us of Lisa’s powerful point to call it out if it isn’t right
  • She noted Louise’s advice to be a mentor and role model, to help those around you.
  • She highlighted Sarah’s wise point of handing out an olive branch to show integrity when dealing with difficult people.
  • Louise reminded the guests of the consensus from the panel of reflecting on your mistakes.
Ron Lynch, IoD East Midlands Regional Director, with attendees Ruchi Aggarwal, Julie Champion, Amy Pearson, Hanya Peilichaty, Richelle Haynes and Tim Collett.