For International Women’s Day we’ve asked AMBITIOUS staff and clients to reflect on some of the women they admire most and embody this year’s theme of ‘Press for Progress’. It wasn’t an easy task – mainly because there are far too many remarkable women to choose from – which just goes to show why days like today are so important…

Karen Evans, Regional Executive, ICAEW:

I admire Sacha Romanovitch, CEO of accountants Grant Thornton and the first female to rise to such a senior position in a top accountancy firm. A working mother who champions diversity, she believes it is for all of us – at any level – to contribute to a vibrant economy, through who we work with, the work we do, what we speak out on and how we are as a business. I feel inspired by that.

Avril Fudge, PR & Comms Lead EMENA, Accord:

I was really lucky to meet one of my idols Germaine Greer at an evening in London where she was talking about her latest book. At the end of the launch, I cowered over to her and asked her to sign my book for me, at the time I was much younger but was a strident feminist having studied feminist psychology at university. I was completely in awe of this small, grey-haired woman who sat quite unassumingly at a table with a glass of wine in hand.

She did sign my book, even making sure she had spelt my name right. For some time she asked me what I was doing, where I was studying, before looking me right in the eye and saying, “Never give in, never give up and never say sorry because you are a woman. We are depending on your generation to carry on our fight for equality.” These are words I still carry with me today.

Mel Beeby Clarke, Director AMBITIOUS:

I really admire a lady called Pamela Howe who was my mum’s first boss. She was a real mould breaker of her time. She rose through the ranks at the BBC to become a well-known and well-respected radio producer. I remember going in to her office at Broadcasting House on Whiteladies Road and she’d be sat behind her desk with her pug (Mr Johny D. Og), smoking a cigarette, running the ship. As well as being a champion of female writers as a producer of literature programmes, she also really supported other women in her team including my mother.

I really admire women who do this – support, encourage and propel other women forward in their place of work or industry, especially those that are male dominated. I think this is one of the biggest favours women can do each other in the working world, instead of engaging in petty and/or competitive behaviour, they should support and boost each other. We’re doing ourselves a big disservice otherwise. l’d like to see a lot more of this in future generations of working women.

Owen McNeir, founder of Remarkable Lives:

I’m choosing one of my first bosses from whom I learned so much – the television producer Anne Wood, creator of Teletubbies and In The Night Garden. Anne came from quite a humble background and rose to huge success with her programmes and with her philosophy. She had such conviction, integrity, drive, stamina and energy. It was incredibly impressive to be around her and quite intimidating sometimes, but I learned so much. I haven’t seen her for about 20 years, but I think about her a lot and I owe her a debt of gratitude for inspiring me and for putting so much store by imagination and creativity and collaboration.

Amanda Woollaston, Latcham Direct:

Miriam Margolyes – she is Jewish, fat, funny, spirited, won’t take any prisoners, creative, intelligent and inspiring (I share some of her traits!)

Nathalie Ackbar, PR Consultant, AMBITIOUS:

There are far too many to choose from, but Mary Beard stands out for her determination not to be defeated by bullies and, from what I’ve seen on television and read about her, she’s a great inspiration to younger women.

Hannah Jolliffe, content & social media consultant, AMBITIOUS:

I’d like to pick someone I know personally, who has gone beyond that ‘what if’ idea and followed it through to action – Becky Gilbert, co-founder of Baby Bank Network. While on maternity leave with her first baby, Becky noticed that there was nowhere locally to donate unwanted baby items, so she set up her own charity to redistribute them to families that can’t afford to buy them. The charity has just helped its 1,000th family in Bristol and has another branch in Scotland, with plans to roll our nationally. I’m massively inspired by Becky’s drive and energy (she also has two young children and a full-time job) – and her vision for doing something so simple to help people in our local community.

Ange Cassidy, PR & social media consultant, AMBITIOUS:

My mum is pretty cool. She fell pregnant with me at 16 and, as I’m from an Irish Catholic family, you can imagine how that went down. She took her O levels while pregnant but couldn’t go any further with her education. She raised us by working all hours at two, or sometimes three jobs, but somehow managed and now has a top job in the NHS after working her way up from a receptionist. Her determination to always better herself, despite her circumstances, really inspires me. Go single mums!

Which women do you most admire – and what is it about them that inspires you? Tell us about them in the comments below – or tweet us @Ambitiouspr using #PressForProgress.

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