A review of 2016 Bright Network Women in Leadership

Women in Leadership 2016 was a day to remember. Over two hundred of the most talented female undergraduates, 18 leading employers and two inspirational keynote speakers - all in the same place for a day of networking, knowledge-sharing and fun. We can confidently say it was a huge success.

Bright Network can't take all the credit - we couldn't have done it without Premier Sponsor KPMG and the 17 firms who joined us at Women in Leadership - Aberdeen Asset Management, Accenture, Atos, Bain &  Company, BP, Capgemini, Capita, CIMA, HM Treasury, HSBC, Imperial College London, London Business School, London Stock Exchange Group, Oliver Wyman, Steer Davies Gleave, UBS and Wood Group.

And a big thank you to each and every one of you who attended. We were delighted to see how engaged and proactive you were throughout the day (not that we ever doubted it), confidently approaching employers and asking really insghtful questions.


Why is Women in Leadership so important?

We recently surveyed you, our Bright Network members and discovered 37% of women don't believe they can pursue any career path they wish. Our research also revealed you feel competition from other graduates, a lack of experience and a lack of contacts are the biggest barriers to securing a graduate role.

Our mission is to help you fulfill your potential and armed with this information, we set out to create an event to give you the skills you need to stand out from the crowd, the opportunity to grow your network and the confidence to take on any career you want.

Getting off to a flying start

Women in Leadership 2016 began with a warm welcome from our very own Director, Rachel Spedding. She set the tone for the day with an energetic introduction to the event.

Melanie Richards, Senior Partner and Vice Chairman at KPMG took to the stage next to deliver an impressive keynote, sharing invaluable advice with her captivated audience. "Don't worry if you don't have a plan" she reassured the room, "it's all about opportunity" and adapting to the situation.

Melanie stressed that comparing yourself to your peers can be counterproductive - we're all at different stages in our careers, striving to do different things. However the graduate market is competitive and you do need to stand out - the best way to make your mark is to simply be yourself. "Believe you can do anything you want to in life" and through hard work, curiosity and networking, you can achieve it.

Melanie's final thought - a running theme at Women in Leadership - "take risks - they're not always as risky as they seem."

It was then the turn of Jo Bertram, Regional General Manager at Uber. She picked up on the uncertainty issue and revealed that after graduating, she didn't know what she wanted to do. Having performed well academically, Jo presumed she had to go down a traditional graduate scheme route and joined a leading consultancy. However she quickly discovered it wasn't the right decision and started to explore all the options open to her.

As Jo asserted during her speech, there is no one path to success - the world is your oyster and it's a matter of choosing the right route for you.

Networking, skill-building and top notch advice

How do you ensure over 200 of the brightest women have the opportunity to meet 18 top firms at a busy event? Why speed networking of course. Our delegates worked their way clockwise around the room, spending four minutes with each graduate employer - moving from booth to booth at the sound of the now famous Brigh Network bell.

Alongside the structured networking, we were thrilled to host a number of skills and content sessions. These were run by our partner firms and attendees learned about the science behind psychometric tests, as well as how to put your best foot forward at interview. Workshops also focused on exploring careers in Professional Services, Banking & Finance and Technology, as well as finding out a bit more about further study in management.

The panel sessions were an excellent chance to hear from the women who've made it as they shared their top tips to become a successful female leader.

Inaugural Women in Leadership Awards

After such an exceptional day, it was only fitting to celebrate the achievements of outstanding women. Our inaugural Women in Leadership Awards recognised 13 of our members who've already made a real impact, from encouraigng female peers to consider a career in engineering to creating a sucessful business. There were nine award categories each sponsored by a partner firm and we're thrilled to reveal our winners...

Entrepreneurial Excellence - Capita

Winner: Ilayda Aktas

Skills Award - Oliver Wyman

Winner: Holly Hensler

Community Champion - UBS

Winner: Ayah Shahin

Innovation Award - Wood Group

Winner: Nishobika Sivakumaran

Stewardship Award - Accenture

Winner: Nicolette Baker

Impact Award - London Business School 

Winner: Kathryn Cole

Dedication Award - HSBC

Winner: Nikoleta Csandova

Outstanding Achievement Award - Bain & Company

Winner: Ashna Khagram

Advancing Women - KPMG

Winners: Kai Sing Lim, Yulia Manyutina, Germaine Nixon, Anwen Smith, Elizabeth Oladunni

It was then only fitting to raise a glass to an inspiring day, invaluable advice and influential women. And hand out the coveted goody bags, filled with treats from our partner firms.

Check out all the photos from Women in Leadership here.

Thank you again for making it a day to remember and we look forward to seeing you soon. And don't forget to save the date - Bright Network Festival 11th September.