Attendees got together for the annual conference at Ramside Hall
The annual Inspiring Females conference had over 170 entrepreneurs learning about how to development successful companies and tips for personal success from a range of business people at Ramside Hall, Durham.
Organised by North East England Chamber of Commerce, the day was started by 27 year old Sophie Moorby, an operations manager for Go North East. She set out her own career path which included being the first female manager of a bus depot at just 23, after a year on a Go Ahead Group graduate training scheme.
Sophie now manages 500 drivers and 200 vehicles around the North East for the business. She puts down her success to the supportive colleagues who are all willing to be innovative and happy to embrace change.
Julie Underwood, Chamber director of international trade, chaired the day, she said: “This is such an important event in the Chamber calendar as we need to support our female entrepreneurs to punch above their weight. Often there are women in business who are reluctant to shout about their achievements. This conference gives them an opportunity to showcase their experiences and inspire other females to develop their careers and businesses.”
Darush Dodds, head of corporate affairs, Esh Group stressed the importance of getting more women into the construction industry and the huge amount of work they do to support this. One of the practical examples of this is the provision of construction kits for 4 – 7 year olds, to encourage girl’s interest in STEM subjects and their work has already benefited 1,800 of them. He also outlined the on-going work Esh is doing to recruit women apprentices and staff training to help eradicate any unconscious bias.
Among the business success stories was Brenda Coade, whose Sunderland business, Designer Childrenswear, has grown to become a major retailer of international brands both in store and on the internet. Her expansion is set to be 50% in the coming year, with around 20 new jobs likely to be created in the coming 12 months, adding to the current 42-strong team.
Fellow Wearside businesswoman Nicola Wood’s story was also shared. She combined a successful career in hairdressing with Kitui Hair Design, with developing The Wonderful Wig company for people suffering from cancer, after her own diagnosis. She is now supplying wigs for private clients and a substantial number of NHS Trusts.
Flexible working is key Chamber theme for Chamber President Lesley Moody’s term of office and Susan Bell, CEO of Waterstons gave a speech highlighting the importance of this approach to her own firm. Her watchwords for her staff were trust and empowerment to do their job without having strict times to be in the office, they can work where it is most appropriate for the task at hand. She said traditional ways of working were becoming obsolete and grow a company today you needed to be agile and authentic. “You need to have a work culture that respects how people feel.”
Steph Edusi, A New View Consultancy, spoke about The Curse of the Strong and urged women to not be apologetic about their strengths. She said we should talk about success and learning, not winning and losing.
Cheryl Lee and Donna Elliott, from Now Is Your Time, gave a talk on how to master mindfulness. They outlined practical tips for everyone to raise their happiness quota each day such as making time to be grateful for people and things in their lives and taking time to meditate.
There was also a session by Jessica Williams of Just Williams on how to provide brilliant customer service.