We’ve all been influenced by inspirational women as we move through our careers. For International Women’s Day we wanted to find out which females have influenced our professional thinking and stayed present in our minds. We canvassed our clients and colleagues and here’s what they said…
Karen Evans, Regional Executive, ICAEW:
A barrister at The University of Manchester (UMIST), Jill Earnshaw, who taught me as an undergraduate there. She combined working with young twins when I knew her; was unflappable, a good listener and always ready to share her vast knowledge and experience with me. She eventually became Dean at UMIST, proving that you can aim high and achieve your ambitions – though not necessarily all at once! Oh, and – most importantly – whilst being a thoroughly decent person throughout.
Avril Fudge, PR & Comms Lead EMENA, Accord:
I would have to say one of my ex bosses, Roberta Fuke. Mainly because she took a chance on me when I arrived fresh-faced from a London agency and she didn’t actually have a job for me. But she saw ‘something she liked’ at the interview and I started my career at an amazing agency in Bristol.
Roberta, was a power-horse from the start, she had single-handedly built an agency from scratch, had a dream to turn it into one of the most influential agencies in Bristol and did. But at the same time, she tempered her ambition with a real passion for her employees and in particular, those of us who had a family. Her favourite quote was “It’s PR not ER” – and the trust she showed in me empowers me still today.
Owen McNeir, founder of Remarkable Lives:
I’m choosing the writer Tamsin Treverton Jones, who is also my travelling companion through life. She is a practical idealist – her advice and support and guidance come with a strong foundation of common sense, onto which she sprinkles liberal amounts of possibility and optimism for the big idea. She has empowered me over the last 10 years and instilled in me a real sense of self belief and self worth.
Mel Beeby Clarke, Director AMBITIOUS:
I’ve been fortunate enough to work with lots of super talented women so it’s really hard to pick out just one person. But, I’d say there are two which stand out. One, my first boss in London, Saskia Walcott. She taught my 20-something, know it all, hugely inflated opinion of self, how to behave at work and how to be a professional. We did some great work together and I eventually realised I was a grown up responsible for my own career and not a student any longer!
Second is my co-founder Lis Anderson, I first met Lis as an Account Manager at a well-known regional agency where she was a director. Lis always got involved in things in the local business community, networked and built connections. She encouraged me to get involved in the CIPR committee and make sure I always got out and about and met people rather than just doing the job from behind a desk. She’s always supported me in what I’ve done and where I’ve worked, including through some pretty hard times. Little did I know that one day I’d be setting up a business with her and that those networks and connections we’d both built would be a key part of the success of that.
Amanda Woollaston, Head of Marketing, Latcham Direct:
The female who has had the biggest influence on my career is myself. I don’t mean that arrogantly, but when I started out in marketing during the early 1990s there were very few courses available and very little career support. Having found a course and securing my first Marketing Assistant’s role at Deloitte in 1993, I have worked very hard over the past 25 years to make sure that marketing was very much on a business’s priority list and that everyone understands the critical part in plays in business success.
It’s been a difficult and sometimes frustrating journey but I look back and I am amazed at how much marketing has changed, how people’s perception of it has altered and how many strong women now play in influential role within many businesses that put marketing at the core of its organisation.
Nathalie Ackbar, PR Consultant, AMBITIOUS:
A former colleague, Kathryn Martino, has had a big influence on my career – not only in a practical sense through the advice and mentoring she’s given me, but through her attitude and general approach to work and life. She’s unafraid to try new things and to recognise when it’s time to move on, take that plunge, and try something new.
Hannah Jolliffe, content & social media consultant, AMBITIOUS:
In my twenties I worked at a fantastic youth tech charity called YouthNet and I’m nominating the CEO at the time, Fiona Dawe, CBE. Fiona had that remarkably rare quality of being able to inspire and lead an organisation, while also trusting people to get on with their jobs. She took time to get to know each member of staff – and was genuinely interested in us all. Her workplace philosophy was way ahead of its time – most organisations are only now implementing the kind of flexibility and trust that was at the heart of Fiona’s thinking.
Ange Cassidy, PR & social media consultant, AMBITIOUS:
My drama teacher was such a force to be reckoned with and my parents were adamant I wasn’t allowed to choose it as a subject for GCSE. I remember so clearly, at parents evening, my mum was telling her in no uncertain terms why drama would not be a valuable subject to my future career and my teacher, Mrs Morgan, said to her, “Do you wish for your daughter to be confident and communicate effectively? Great lawyers began as drama students, and I suggest you allow your daughter to shine.” I thought, “yeah go miss!” I went on to get an A* in the GCSE and a scholarship to RADA.
Which female has had the biggest impact on your career? Tell us about them in the comments below – or tweet us @Ambitiouspr using this year’s campaign hashtag #PressForProgress.