Our stars keep rising

So Emily, how did it feel to accept your award?

I was so honoured to win the Rising Stars Award, because as a young entrepreneur with big dreams, it’s important to have the support and backing of those around you: those who carry with them experience, expertise and a strong belief in who you are and what you do. This award reminded me that I’m not alone in my venture, and it’s an incredible feeling to know that you are supported by so many people who, even through the tough times, will continue to cheer you on!

What were your highlights of the awards night?

I was blown away by the stories and journeys of the successful business women we had the privilege of hearing from on the awards night itself. Women who, whilst making huge sacrifices to pursue their careers in business, never once lost sight of the ones they love. These women had started up and developed incredibly successful businesses whilst simultaneously raising children and running households. For me, these women not only challenged, but completely smashed the stereotype and ‘either, or’ mentality of career verses family.

As a young entrepreneur what have been your biggest challenges?

I’m Motivation by Music’s driven and passionate visionary, that’s my most important role as founder and Creative Director, and what keeps us moving forward. It’s so easy to be seen as an unstoppable force – willing to take the biggest of risks and able to overcome some of the greatest challenges… Whilst there is an element of truth in that, it only takes a small dose of kryptonite to cripple an otherwise indestructible Superman. What’s my kryptonite? Detail. I can so easily become overwhelmed by detail – administration and organisation. And that’s where I’ve learned to ask for help.

And what are the rewards?

Flexibility. Don’t get me wrong, at times I work so hard and often into the early hours of the morning, but when the sun is shining, I get myself to the beach; and when a friend needs me, I’m there. I’m my own boss, and the flexibility that comes with that enables me to keep my sanity, to keep dear to me the things that matter most in my life, and enables me to put my very best into all that I do.

Why did you decide to run your own business?

I was once told that I could never work for anyone other than myself. I guess I didn’t know what was meant by that statement until I eventually became my own boss, and realised just how free I felt. It was almost like I instantly became a better version of myself. It’s tough, don’t get me wrong, but I’m definitely giving this business thing a good go before anyone tries to tempt me into working a more ‘normal’ job.

Now you’re an Award Winner what’s next for you?

I recently returned from Canada where I ran my first overseas Motivation by Music team building session. I have such a huge passion for the imprisoned across the globe – whether that be those who are physically locked up, or those who are trapped in the prison of self-doubt. I want to use the profits from my work with corporate clients to reach more people. From community groups in the UK to orphaned children in Kenya, my dream is to help individuals to unveil their self-worth through Motivation by Music sessions, and to provide opportunities for people to experience the real joy of being free in a supportive and encouraging community.

What one piece of advice would you give to young women in Surrey who are looking to run their own business?

One of my favourite prayers is ‘God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference’. It’s so important to know your strengths and of course, to learn, develop and grow where you can, but there comes a point in business where you must admit where you need help, and get it.

You can find out more about Motivation by Music and their team building workshops at www.motivationbymusic.com or you can email Emily directly at emily@motivationbymusic.com

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You can do it!

Our latest guest blog is from Jessica van Thiel, founding and managing partner of PATHFINDER. Jessica was a guest speaker at the 2016 Business Women in Surrey (BWiS) annual flagship event and shares here some of her inspiring words from that evening.

Women are unstoppable!

They have an incredible ability to take on several roles at once; entrepreneur, student, friend, mother, daughter…

I’ve always been in awe of the capacity women have to bring about impactful change in a big way, that’s why I’ve focused my career on the advancement of women’s rights and gender equality. So, when I was invited to speak at the BWiS International Women’s Day Rising Stars event I was thrilled and humbled. Here’s some of what I shared that evening.

Social enterprise

In 2015, I co-founded PATHFINDER, a Canadian social enterprise focusing on sustainable development solutions. We provide creative solutions to enable the world’s most vulnerable through a three-pronged approach: by simultaneously influencing academics, policy, and social entrepreneurship. Our vision is to enable local social entrepreneurs so that they may provide for themselves, their families and their communities. Our partner projects are based in India, Nepal and Namibia. They focus on important causes with women’s rights as one of the priority issues.

I’m proud to say that in one short year, we’re ahead of where we aimed to be. That’s not to say that there haven’t been major challenges and hurdles along the way. Since we started the social enterprise, it has been an incredible learning experience, beyond expectations, both professionally and personally.

Growing up in Canada, I had a strong sense of needing to give back to the less fortunate in some way. I realised how lucky I was because it seemed like every opportunity in the world was available to me. I wondered how I could help right the great wrongs of the world, or at the very least, help better the lives of a few people. That’s what led me to work in the development sector which has allowed me to live in some incredible places around the world. My work reminds me every day that I can make a change, that I should make a change.

Melinda Gates of the Melinda Gates Foundation sums up my sentiment: “If you are successful, it is because somewhere, sometime, someone gave you a life or an idea that started you in the right direction. Remember also that you are indebted to life until you help some less fortunate person, just as you were helped.”

Hard graft

Since the beginning, my (invaluable) partner Shivani and I have worked tirelessly. We were determined to fill well-known industry gaps in the international development sector because we recognised that the same mistakes were made over and over and the status quo was failing far too many. We worked nights and weekends, we researched constantly, we studied, we learned, we wrote, we consulted; we fully committed ourselves to doing whatever it takes to run a successful new business. It was, and remains tough work.

So why put myself through the uncertainty of starting a new business when I was 8 and a half months pregnant?! The answer is because I felt I absolutely should. And because it was something I had always wanted to do, a lifelong dream, so what better time than the present? There will always be a million reasons why not to do something. The trick is to say yes, even when it’s scary and uncertain because there will never, ever be a perfect time.

Lessons learned

The key lessons I’ve learned along the way are:

1)    You have a story to tell. Everyone has a story; everyone has something that motivates them. Your story is no less important than anyone else’s. Stop comparing yourself to others and know your self-worth.

2)    Stop making excuses. It’s never too late. The timing will never be perfect. Push yourself beyond your comfort zone, and if you really want something, go for it. It’s not coming to you. You need to go out and get it, yourself.

3)    It’s OK to ‘multi-task’ your life. Yes, it’s essential to focus and be present when doing something, but in life you can take on many roles at once. It’s OK to be an entrepreneur, a student, mother, wife and friend. You can do it. But when you’re doing it, be present. Be organised, prioritise, and be in the moment.

4)    Use your strengths and delegate the rest. If you’re good at something, let it shine! Use it as a tool. If you’re a good communicator, focus on that. If you’re better at research, do that. Do what you like and do what you’re good at. And if you can, delegate the rest.

5)    Surround yourself with positive people. This is likely the most important lesson I’ve learned along the way. Positive, glass-half-full people will always win. They’ll make you better. Besides, there’s no time for negativity; yes, it’s inevitable, it will happen. But if negativity is a constant presence in your life it will eventually weigh on you. Don’t listen to the nay-sayers. Keep positive. Often, if you break anything down, it is achievable.

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Surrey Chambers of Commerce reveals 2016 top businesswomen list

Surrey Chambers Business Women in Surrey (BWiS) revealed the top 50 women on its 2016 businesswomen list last night (8 March) at a special flagship event to celebrate International Women’s Day.

Held in Woking at the offices of local marketing agency Something Big, around 100 attendees listened to inspiring words from guest speakers Julianne Ponan of Creative Nature, Annabel Jones from ADP UK, Pathfinder’s Jessica Van Thiel, and Robyn Dunwoodie of Miller Brands.

Each shared their career journey and attributed much of their success to strong roles models – from mums and dads to bosses and colleagues – and sheer determination. Key messages from the evening included don’t let fear stop you, go for your goals, and embrace change.

The top 50 BWiS Rising Stars Young Business Women in Surrey 2016 list was then revealed, which this year focused on the county’s younger (aged under 30) businesswomen.

Certificates and flowers for those who made the top 10 were presented by Surrey Chambers chief executive Louise Punter, and BWiS co-chairs Sally Pritchett, director, Something Big, and Claire Dee, director, Claire Dee Communications.

Louise Punter, chief executive, Surrey Chambers of Commerce, said: “It was a fabulous evening with everyone in the room keen to recognise the talented young businesswomen we have here in Surrey. Those who made the top 50 Rising Stars list came from all sectors of the business world, from large corporates to creative small businesses and everything in-between. Congratulations to them all and we wish them every success in their careers.”

In alphabetical order by surname, the top 10 2016 BWiS Rising Stars are:

  • Emily Bollon – Motivation by Music
  • Yvonne Bryce – The Knights Group
  • Emily Chalkley – Charles Russell Speechleys
  • Jessica Edgar – Stars Performing Arts
  • Laura Goodridge – McLaren Automotive
  • Jade Hibbins – Bam Nuttall
  • Cheri Howieson – ADP UK
  • Hannah Johnson – McLaren Automotive
  • Katelyn Silver – Charles Russell Speechleys
  • Alexandra Trebilco – McLaren Automotive
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Women on Boards – if not now, when?

I was recently reading, with some pride, about one of our student run societies and the high profile speakers they are attracting onto campus. A bit of background for those of you who don’t know me (yet) I’m the Business Manager for Surrey Business School, part of the University of Surrey.

Wanting to find out more about their events I clicked through to their web page, and there was a picture of the organising committee. Nine bright enthusiastic young people from all over the world, dressed to impress in suits, genuine smiles on their faces. Already enjoying some success, every one of them with the potential to be a future leader. Eight young men and, yes you’ve guessed it, one young woman.

I’d just been reading Claire’s eye opening blog post on the Davies Report on women on boards and as I looked at that photo my heart sank, just a little. Okay, so it’s one pic of one student society, at one university and our future women board members are going to come, I hope, from all walks of life, but it made me think.

When will we have a big enough pool of talented experienced women ready to join boards? When will the men on boards, the chief executives, chairmen and shareholders be ready to accept a more balanced percentage of women into the top of their organisations? If that photo is any kind of evidence then we might be waiting for a while yet.

So, is anyone tapping young women on the shoulder and asking them if they want to consider aiming for a board position? Is anyone encouraging them to be just as ambitious and self-confident as their male peers, helping them to build the skills and experience that they will need? Is anyone pointing out, to those male peers, the talents and credibility of their female colleagues?

And then I had a eureka moment, I realised I’m actually in a position to do something about this. I’m sitting here in a top ranked UK business school where I can work with my colleagues to make sure every single student can graduate knowing their full potential and the benefits of a balanced workplace.

But there is something even simpler that I can do, that every one of us can do. We can support and encourage the young, and the not so young, women around us, our employees, colleagues, friends, family members, customers and suppliers. Point out their capabilities to themselves and others, raise their expectations, help them to build the self-confidence to put themselves forward.

Here’s another thought to add into the mix. A colleague of mine, Dr Ilke Inceoglu, specialises in work place psychology. She recently wrote an article, based on her research and her own experiences in the workplace, that I think the corporate head hunters should be reading.  As Ilke puts it, “From the evidence in research literature and my experience of developing psychometric instruments, I’ve found that the differences between the genders are generally quite small. What matters most is the match between requirements of a specific job and the competencies and potential of an individual.

Not everyone is going to make it to the board of a FTSE 100 company, not everyone will want to for that matter, the air as they say can be pretty thin at the top. But everyone deserves the opportunity to fulfil their potential. We can all help to build the pool of future and current talent so that we can be sure that there will be a day when every part of the corporate ladder, including the board room, is balanced.

Voting for ‘Rising Stars’ – Young Business Women in Surrey 2016 opens 1 February. Take a first step to supporting our current and future talent and vote now.

Abi Bradbeer is the Business Manager for Surrey Business School, University of Surrey. You can find her on LinkedIn and follow her on twitter @AbiBradbeer

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ExportSurrey – here for you

In 2014, Surrey Chambers of Commerce in partnership with Surrey Connects launched ExportSurrey – a bespoke service designed to actively promote the export opportunities to Surrey’s small to medium sized businesses (SMEs) of which there are a staggering 65,000. And the majority of these businesses have the potential to export their products or services!

Initially set up for a period of six months to address the ambitious government target to double exports by 2020, ExportSurrey set out to inform and advise local businesses of the opportunities available internationally.

With the assistance of experts in their fields from across the Overseas Business Network of Chambers internationally, to the contacts within UK Trade & Investment (UKTI) and beyond, we have been able to hold ‘pop-up’ events on business parks, run informative ‘country- specific’ events on key and emerging markets worldwide, host webinars and attend numerous international themed events to build our knowledge in order to pass on to the clients we meet.  We now have an enviable contact list of key people with the expertise to assist businesses who are serious about starting their export journey.

Exporting goods and services helps British businesses to grow, creates jobs, and has the potential to add £30 billion to the UK economy. Research has shown that, on average, businesses can earn £100,000 in additional sales within 18 months of exporting and working with experts such as UKTI..

Now in its 18th month, ExportSurrey is seen as a key part of the International Trade Team at Surrey Chambers of Commerce.  And we’re  always delighted to hear from businesses wanting to explore the potential which exporting their products or services can bring.

What are you waiting for?!

Sarah Butcher leads the Surrey Chambers ExportSurrey project  – please contact her on sarah.butcher@surrey-chambers.co.uk

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Women on boards: could do better

Back in 2011, former trade minister Lord Davies issued a report recommending that UK listed companies in the FTSE 100 should be aiming for a minimum of 25% female board member representation by the end of 2015. At the time the figure stood at 12.5%.

And last week, he announced this voluntary target had been met and exceeded (now 26%) with the added bonus of no all-male FTSE 100 boards. Good news. Better still, he’s moved the posts and set a new goal: 33% of women board members at FTSE 350 firms by 2020.

His latest report states that while UK top companies have reached a major milestone in increasing the number of women in their boardrooms, more needs to be done. Agreed.

And while I’m all for promotion based on ability and merit (a no-brainer), I’m also keen on progress. If it takes positive discrimination to aid both these processes then so be it. A balance can, and should, be found.

But there’s a catch.

While this increase is to be applauded, the actual figures are a little more skewed, as many of these women in board roles are non-executive rather than executive, and in some cases the same women sitting around several different tables.

According to BoardWatch, the current FTSE 100 statistic is made up of 31.4% non-executive directors compared to 9.6% executive directors.

For example, there are only five female FTSE 100 chief executives: easyJet’s Carolyn McCall, Imperial Tobacco’s Alison Cooper, Kingfisher’s Veronique Laury, Royal Mail’s Moya Greene, and Severn Trent’s Liv Garfield. And co-founder of LastMinute.com, Martha Lane Fox, was at one point a board member of three such companies – Channel 4, Marks and Spencer, and Mydeco – all at the same time.

Lord Davies’ proposals are spot on and making a difference, but this mustn’t turn into a token gesture. If 2020 is to herald the advent of a third (or more) women in the boardrooms of the UK’s leading companies, let’s make sure it includes senior levels and different ladies. Only then will this exercise have achieved its real objective.

Claire Dee is Business Women in Surrey co-chair, a member of the Surrey Chambers of Commerce board, and director of Claire Dee Communications.

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A day in my life – Louise Punter

Louise Punter, chief executive, Surrey Chambers of Commerce

At Surrey Chambers we help businesses promote themselves, keeping them up to speed on the latest information and opportunities and representing them to all levels of government. This means we have to keep our eyes and ears wide open and make sure we know what’s happening and who we need to talk to. Here’s my typical day doing just that!

6.30am Time for my early morning 40-minute walk around the village. When I arrive home tea is deposited to husband and daughter to mark the beginning of their days. Our other married daughter recently moved into a flat after three years living in her bedroom with her husband – we must make it easier for young people to live independently and start their journey in life.

9.00am Next stop Miller Brands in Woking, where I sit on their sales and marketing review committee as an independent chair to oversee that they are advertising responsibly. Very interesting and fascinating to see the care they take in going over and above the stipulated regulations. No time to chat as I trot up to the station to get a train into Waterloo and carry on my exercise regime by walking over Westminster Bridge, along with many tourists. I was attending a British Chambers of Commerce skills meeting through which we are able to reach the parts of government responsible for skills and employment. We regularly have ministers and civil servants visit us so that they can hear about what happens in the real world of business. Meeting finished, and no time for lunch as I need to be back in our Surrey office to meet with one of our members, Branduin, working with us to deliver one-to-one business advice, adding to our menu of services.

2.00pm After a quick input into a few issues that have arisen in the office, I’m in the car and on my way to Dorking Halls to judge the Surrey Young Enterprise finals. Not one to waste a moment, I stop off at Pizza Express first in Dorking to catch-up with Bob Pickles, head of corporate affairs at Canon UK in Reigate. We talk about some networking events we are running with the generous support of Canon.

4.15pm I meet with fellow judges to discuss the company reports submitted by nine eager school companies hoping to go forward to the South East finals of Young Enterprise. Following a discussion on the reports, interviews at their trade stands, and nine 4-minute presentations, I stand up at 8.30pm to announce the two winners. Not only has it been a long day, but the emotional effect of seeing seven teams disappointed spurs me home to relax.

9.30pm Time for an episode of Grey’s Anatomy and then alarm set for another exciting day!

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Surrey Chambers reveals Surrey’s top businesswomen

Surrey Chambers Business Women in Surrey (BWiS) was delighted to reveal the top 10 women on its inaugural Top Businesswomen in Surrey List this week (10 March) at a special flagship event to celebrate International Women’s Day.

Held at the WWF Living Planet Centre in Woking, 120 guests listened to inspiring speeches from senior women including Rosemary French of Gatwick Diamond, Jenny Tomley from Redaway Blackmore, Rio Tinto’s Anne Stevens, Darshana Ubl of Entrevo, Tracey Horner from CARE International, and MP for Guildford Anne Milton.

The common theme from all was women should celebrate their achievements in the workplace much more and shout from the rooftops about their successes.

The BWiS 2015 Top 50 Businesswomen in Surrey List was then revealed, with certificates and flowers for the top 10 presented by Surrey Chambers chief executive Louise Punter, and BWiS co-chairs Sally Pritchett, director, Something Big, and Claire Dee, director, Claire Dee Communications.

Louise Punter, chief executive, Surrey Chambers of Commerce, said: “It was a fabulous evening with lots of talented women and men in the room keen to celebrate all that is great about businesswomen in Surrey. Success can be defined in a multitude of ways, so nominations from all walks of life were invited, and we received over 70 in total with 4,000 people voting to determine the final list.”

In alphabetical order, the BWiS 2015 Top 10 Businesswomen in Surrey are:

• Adele Parks – Author
• Beverley Cuddy – Dogs Today
• Caroline Harrap – Surrey Life
• Helen Collins – Surrey Police
• Helen Parlane – Colgate-Palmolive
• Louise Stead – Royal Surrey
• Marilyn Scott – The Lightbox
• Perdita Hunt – Watts Gallery
• Robyn Dunwoodie – Miller Brands
• Sarah Giles – Projectfive

For further information on the full top 50 list click here.

Congratulations to everyone and thanks to all who nominated and voted – we’re hoping for 100 ladies next year!

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Roll up, roll up, your county (and country) needs you!

It was a great honour to be invited to join some 70 other business people at WWF last week to celebrate Woking’s thriving economy.

The event was hosted by Woking County councilArcom IT and Hamlyns who gave us a great insight into the highest achieving businesses based right under our noses across Woking. From some of the more obvious names like McLaren and SAB Miller to some less well-known names, Bisley and DB Apparel, all of these thriving businesses have contributed to the total business revenue of Woking, a staggering 22.8 billion for 2014.

Jonathan Lord MP spoke about his pride in the recent transformation Woking has seen and how the town has attracted world-leading companies, big and small. Councillor Ray Morgan reminded the audience that Woking was originally established as a place where London could send its dead, but now boasts an economical vitality that many towns can only dream of. Chris Hamlyn and Shahid Azeem then gave a run down of the report published that day ‘The Woking Economy – Annual Report & Accounts”

The evening ended with special awards for eight of the highest achieving businesses, the most notable to me being DB Apparel. Notable in part because who knew that Wonderbra and Playtex were based right here in Woking – but also because that’s the moment it really struck me…there was a distinct lack of female representation in the room!

This is a real shame, because we’re not lacking female talent in Surrey, as our Top Business Women in Surrey 2015 list clearly shows.

So why the discrepancy? Around a million SME businesses in the UK are now majority-led by women, but that’s still only 20% (though the UK still outperforms Germany and France). Worse still, in the FTSE 100 there’s still only a measly 17.3% women that make it to the boardroom!

So there’s still work to be done: we need to keep promoting and celebrating those who have broken through and overcome the many obstacles faced by women in business, and encourage and inspire others to do the same.

One such great role model is Marica Carleschi, Group Marketing Manager from DB Apparel who collected the award for most successful company of the year at this event. We’re delighted she’s agreed to guest blog for us – we’ll let you know through Twitter when it’s posted!

It’s worth noting that International Women’s Day is now just around the corner providing a fantastic platform for us all to celebrate the success of women in the business world. We will be hosting our annual International Women’s Day event on 10th March and would love for you to join us and our inspirational panel of speakers who will be talking about their roles as senior female leaders and the work being undertaken globally to support and encourage entrepreneurism amongst women.

For more information, please click here http://www.businesswomeninsurrey.co.uk/Events.html

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Celebrate International Women’s Day with Surrey Chambers

Surrey Chambers of Commerce Business Women in Surrey (BWiS) invites you to come along to its annual flagship event in celebration of International Women’s Day.

Taking place on the evening of Tuesday 10 March 2015 (5-9pm) at the fabulous new eco-friendly WWF Living Planet Centre in Woking, an inspirational panel of speakers will be talking about their roles as senior female leaders, and the work being undertaken globally to support and encourage entrepreneurism amongst women.

• Rosemary French OBE, executive director, Gatwick Diamond Initiative
• Jenny Tomley, managing director, Redaway Blackmore Ltd (former managing director, John Lewis Kingston)
• Anne Stevens, vice-president of people and organisation, Rio Tinto
• Tracey Horner, head of Lendwithcare at CARE International UK
• MP, to be announced

BWiS is a local network of like-minded business people – male and female – sharing ideas, knowledge and skills via workshops, mentoring programmes, seminars and events.

The evening will also reveal the top 10 winners of the Business Women in Surrey 2015 list so don’t forget to vote here: Business Women in Surrey 2015 vote now

Book now and see you on 10 March!

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