It’s International Women’s Day today and it’s made me think about how the culture around me has changed as I’ve studied and worked my way through life. Things have certainly changed. Here’s a potted history of what I’ve experienced and a shout out to some of the women that have shone.
In 1989 I was the first girl from my co-ed comp, (the Hundred of Hoo School inaugurated 1957), to go to Cambridge. When, a year later, I got in touch as part of the university outreach programme to return and talk about life as a female undergrad at Cambridge, my offer was politely refused “We don’t want to create unreasonable expectations”. Way to go Mr Abnett…
I hadn’t given much thought to what life would be like at Cambridge. The aim was just to get there. When I tipped up (all denim dungarees and LA Gear) there were a lot of male faces around. At my college we were outnumbered 3:1
First job: was in a start-up marketing agency. Two men; two women. The two guys were the founders and in charge. I was the bright, knows nothing, does everything grad. Jahan, the other female, was the receptionist.
Second job: was a 20 person marketing agency. Two guys were the founders and in charge. More of the same..
Third job: was a 60 person marketing agency. Two guys were the founders and in charge but then they hired a female MD to manage the business. She became the first woman I saw leading a business day to day, Louise Wall.
Fourth job: was a 100 person brand consultancy. Male founders enjoying the good life. Person we all looked to: Female MD, then CEO and general deity of the branding world: Rita Clifton
Fifth job: slightly smaller brand consultancy. Two male founders very much in evidence but strong female board directors bringing in the dough and driving the business forward: Katy Mousinho, Anna Eggleton
Sixth job: own business: The Customer Closeness Company. Two founders: women. Charlotte Vicary and Nicola Craig. (Then, Anna Eggleton joined as fellow Director and Katy Mousinho as non-exec - too good not to work with them again!).
Yesterday, I sat in a meeting at Taylor Wimpey, the homebuilder, traditionally a male-dominated sector, discussing one of the three strategic workstreams for the business. There were representatives from three businesses in the room. All of the most senior people from those businesses were women. Shout out to Suzanne Byrne, Clare Brimble, Jenny Dean, Anna and me.
It’s a good news story people. Happy International Women’s Day #ThisGirlCan
Co-founder - The Customer Closeness Company