The Friday before International Women’s Day, We brought together 144 of our most passionate female members and eight fantastic graduate employers at the forefront of gender equality initiatives to celebrate female achievements and push for even greater gender parity. It was a truly inspiring and empowering day for everyone involved.
After some warm-up networking and a game of human bingo, students had the chance to hear from our premier partner Vodafone’s Global Head of Network Application Operations, Alison Wheatley. In her inspiring speech, she told members about the importance of being prepared to work hard and stay determined throughout your career, and why it’s crucial to have the confidence to take opportunities when they present themselves, even if it’s outside of your comfort zone.
Next up was the panel session with our six female leaders from Bank of England, National Audit Office, PwC, Smith & Williamson, Softcat and premier partner Vodafone. With the theme of this year’s event being #SuccessThroughSolidarity as chosen by our Student Leadership Board, it was amazing to see a group of such successful female leaders coming together and being so supportive of one another’s achievements.
Key pieces of advice we heard from the panellists included:
- Think about your personal brand - if you know where you excel or where you need support, this will ensure you know you’re aligning yourself to the right things.
- When choosing a career, really think about what you want from your life, not just about what is the most impressive thing you can do with your degree.
- Grab opportunities now while you’re at university so that when you get to the workplace, you’ll be able to put your hand up confidently.
- The best piece of advice I ever received was “the cream rises to the top” - when I had those moments of a lack of confidence - when I still have those moments of crisis of confidence — my mentor said to me look where you are - don’t think you’re anything less than the cream.
- Just be a bulldozer, because no one else is going to be one for you.
- The more we look at this as a war, the more we have a divide. Many of the best people I’ve worked with have been men.
- Don’t just pick a mentor that is like you - just go for the person who you think you can learn the most from.
After gaining inspiration from our panel session and keynote speech, our members then had the chance to network their way to success with our panellists’ firms plus BDO and TLT LLP. The room was full of energy as our female students gained valuable insights from graduate employers on what it takes to be hired onto some of the most competitive internships and graduate schemes, as well as the gender equality initiatives each firm has in place to help their female's employees enjoy exciting and fulfilling careers.
We then moved into a skills session with the fabulous Careers Confidence Coach, Katie Hilton – the session was full of laughter and smiles as Katie gave our members a masterclass on how to be the confident person they've always strived to be. Katie's three steps to achieving this were:
- Know yourself
- Be yourself
- Present yourself to the world.
Even employees from our partner firms and Bright Network staff joined in on the session!
Finally, a huge thank you to our Student Leadership Board for this year's event, whose great ideas and hard work helped to make this such a special day for our members and partner firms. We're delighted that 99% of attendees who completed our survey found the event brilliant or good, and 100% would recommend Bright Network to a friend.