(Written by Jo Sutherland)
The first WIFM conference of 2016 really did encourage those in the audience to lean in, step up, and play the part. Co-founder and Chair of Women In FM, Lucy Jeynes, took the reigns and was our compere for the day – a tour de force in her own right.
Guy Stallard of KPMG kicked off the bursting itinerary with an enlightening discussion about his role in promoting and implementing the Living Wage. There was no sugarcoating with this one. I suppose there’s not time to navigate around eggshells when questioning why FM, as an industry, doesn’t always pay a decent wage. The response from the audience was unanimous – as an industry that places people at the heart of everything, let’s pay our staff properly.
‘Aspiring to The Board’ was second on the agenda; our executive coach and leadership trainer for the day, Fran Moscow, shared her tips when it comes to taking control of your career and developing a personal brand. Looking at the ‘how’ not the ‘why’ when you aspire to a seat on the board, she also reiterated the fact that it’s down to you to shape your own progress and path. It’s all about attitude, dedication and self-belief.
Following Fran’s advice to say ‘yes’, take the plunge and reap the rewards – we then heard the stories from three very successful FMs who had done just that. Each shared their journey (physical and mental) through their lives and their careers so far. Sajna Rahman does what she loves and loves what she does, Polina Eaton believes you’ll arrive at what you’re destined to do (but there’s no rush), and Louise Burns taught us that courage and strength are very special gifts – unwrap them nice and early, follow your heart, and be true to yourself. Through this series, we really became aware that FM is a place for everybody.
Heather White’s practical networking session taught us a) not to waste time on small-talk (who really cares about the weather?), b) practise your introductions (have five points ready that will help you summarise your expertise), and c) don’t be afraid to tell people what you’re after (but help others in turn). This year’s lively panel debate concerned targets and quotas and pivoted on the central question – ‘how we can encourage more women to join the senior ranks in FM?’
Two of the most inspirational women I have ever had the honour of sharing a space with then graced the stage. Fiona Bowman’s inspiring story really embodies her mantra; “Be the change you want to see” – and Claire Harvey’s journey, from near-death to the 2012 Paralympics, proves that you can do anything you put your mind to, even if you have to do it in a different way.
Concluding, Smart Works, reminded us that’s not always about the next, big step – for some, it’s just about the first step on the ladder.
(Photos by Albion Images)