On 8th of March we welcomed over 140 of our brightest women for the inaugural International Women's day event. We were celebrating some the UK's brightest and most ambitious women. We were joined by some brilliant firms and female leaders in their professions. It was not only an informative and proud day but one filled with fun empowering interactions!
The day opened with a keynote from Emma Palfreymen, a female leader from our Premier Sponsor for the day, Willis Towers Watson. She talked about how as a woman she began her career in a male dominated board room but there are men who also encourage amazing talent and activity in her sector. The awareness of how women are treated in the workplace has increased in the years she has progressed throughout her career. She emphasised that if you love what you do- anything is possible. She also discussed how important it is to network and believe in your own presence and capabilities in the work place, even when just starting out in your career.
Then we had a inspirational session from Katie Hilton, Careers Confidence Coach, who is passionate about helping women achieve their potential. This session was empowering and encouraged students to be their authentic selves. To quote Kate, "when you are your authentic self, that is when you are at your most confident". Good advice!
The ABC of me was an activity that challenged members to think about: authenticity, behaviours and capabilities. It was an hour of understanding more about strengths and skills and realising what makes you, you!
After this session it was time to network with the fantastic firms we had present, including Willis Towers Watson, BP, PwC, Clyde and Co, Capgemini, Lloyds Banking Group, J.P Morgan, and Smith & Williamson. They all were a part of our symbolic day, speaking to our members and encourgaing their career ambitions! Members were able to network with firms directly and they enjoyed getting some great advice on how they could secure some of the most comptetitive graduate jobs and internship opportunities.
After networking and some refreshments we moved into a panel session to hear top tips for career success and overcoming gender barriers from female leaders at our partner firms. The insights included:
- "Personally as a trick if you have an important interview or meeting, the best step to tackle feelings of imposter syndrome is preperation. Read as much as you can on this company or client. Good notes and memorising the topic will help you feel confident taking you one step forward from imposter syndrome. You are as smart or clever or skilled as anyone else. Emmanuelle Lemer, J.P Morgan Managing Director- Investment Banking
- "Sometimes we focus on what we don't know but if you focus on how far you've come and what you've learned, you remember you've come a long way. I dont always know everything about a topic even today!" Emma Palfreyman, Willis Towers Watson, Head of Sotare and Strategy Retirement GB
- "To me in my heart I am still a little girl from a comprehensive school on an apprenticeship. But now I put myself into sitations that scare me and that means next time it won't. Fake it till you make it and it becomes easier every time." Tamara Holmgren, BP Projects and Modifications Porject Manager- Eastern Hemisphere
- "It's so important to get your voice heard. If you sit back and think 'what I'm saying is not important' some one else could say it and you dont get the credit. What you say could be really intelligent and guide the meeting." Tamara Holmgren, BP Projects and Modifications Porject Manager- Eastern Hemisphere
- " Early career questions are more structured but later on its more about self promotion. That may be more of a male trait? However, it's more about being your own advocate and continuing onto the next stage of your career to reach senior levels." Sarah Hartill, Smith and Williamson Director- Business Tax
- " Don't be afraid of stepping up. Don't drop out and get those promotions. If you love your job you'll push through."
- "I have my job which I love. I have my family which I love and I'm not choosing between them. Life is hard but we get through it. We need to talk about the fun parts, when it works and not so much the cultural noise shouting about when its difficult." Lucy Gardiner, PwC Director
As the day came to and end, after tonnes of networking and empowering women all in one place, the day winded down with a beautiful and powerful poem by Saadia Sajid, one of our members on our student leadership board. We couldn't have executed this event as well without them and they played an intergral part in putting it together and making it such a special day for our team at Bright Network.