Today (8th March 2016) is International Women’s Day #IWD2016, and as we know so many fabulous, fearless and fantastically talented ladies both personally and professionally it felt only right that we should celebrate!

And what better way to do so than ask some of the women (& men!) who make up Team AMBITIOUS, and our clients, to tell us which women they think we should be shining the spotlight on today…

Jane Rockett & Lucy St George, Rockett St George, nominated by Jo Stevens, Mowbray Woowards; “There are two women who have inspired me recently: Jane Rockett and Lucy St George, the co-owners of online interior retailer ‘Rockett St George’. They met at a party, became great friends and decided to combine their skill set and start up an online business, which is now thriving (set up in 2013). What I admire most is that they made brave choices to ultimately do a job they love, and although they started the business when their children were very young, they don’t profess to ‘have it all’.”

Julia Immonen, Sport for Freedom, nominated by Lisa Stanley, AMBITIOUS; “Julia is only in her mid 30’s but has done so much and really inspires me. She has founded an anti-slavery & anti-trafficking charity called Sport for Freedom after rowing the Atlantic (in winter) in the first ever all female crew and fastest crew. She was at school with my sister and is just a normal girl who’s gone on to do incredible things for a cause she is super-passionate about.” 

Victoria Pendleton, Olympic Athlete, nominated by Rebecca Steer, owner, Steer and Co; “At the moment, and rather controversially I suppose I’m secretly watching and wishing Victoria Pendleton well in her swapping the saddles challenge. A keen rider myself I know just a small amount of what it must take to jump round a course of hurdles on half a ton of horse and she’s only been riding for a year, which is quite an achievement, I know she’s being trained by some amazing trainers and mentors, and is riding full time, an opportunity a mere amateur like me would love, but notwithstanding this its a real test of courage and determination.

“Further away in time, it would have to be Pankhurst or one of the ladies from the Suffragette movement. Courageous, intelligent and determined also, I’m grateful every time I vote for what they achieved and sacrificed.”

Lyse Doucet OBE, Chief International Correspondent BBC, nominated by Joe Cox, AMBITIOUSOn the inspirational woman front, that really is a hard one as there are so many brilliant and inspirational women out there. I think it would have to be Lyse Doucet who is the BBC’s chief international correspondent. The courage it takes for anyone to willingly travel to such war torn and dangerous parts of the world as Syria and for such noble reasons is truly inspiring to me. To do it as a woman takes extra courage as well, as these are parts of the world where women aren’t treated in the same way as men. It surely takes a unique temperament and drive to be a war correspondent but I think their importance is immeasurable, as they continue to shine a light into the darkest places and remind us that we’re all very fortunate.

Arianna Huffington, journalist & media mogul, nominated by Caroline Marshall, Bristol Media; “Arianna Huffington reminds me that I can take an hour for lunch away from my PC; that it’s ok to switch my phone off at 7pm and that walking outdoors every day, and getting plenty of sleep is the very best way to keep my body and soul together, helping me achieve more in the day.”

Alex Timpson, mother of five, foster mother of 90, nominated by Lis Anderson, AMBITIOUS; “My vote is for a woman we should definitely be putting in the spotlight today – the ultimate fairy godmother and a real an unsung heroine, Alex Timpson.

“She was the wife of John Timpson of the Timpson’s shoe repair and key-cutting empire and sadly died earlier this year. During her life Alex chose to invest her time in fostering over 90 children, as well as bringing up her own five children. Her son Edward is now Minister of State for Children and Families and said he ‘wouldn’t be Children’s Minister if my parents hadn’t fostered’.

Mary Berry CBE, food writer & tv presenter, nominated by Karen Norman, AMBITIOUS; “It’s got to be Mary Berry for me. Because she appears to have the recipe not only for fabulous cakes but for a long and happy career, which she is still enjoying aged 80! Something we all aspire to in our careers.”

Sheryl Sandberg, COO Facebook, nominated by Deborah Bartlett, AMBITIOUS; “In recent years I’ve come to really admire Sheryl Sandberg, the Chief Operating Officer of Facebook. In 2012 at the age of 43, she was named as one of Time magazine’s 100 most influential people in the world. She’s a strong supporter of women in business and I’ve been impressed with how she’s got back to work after she lost her husband in a tragic accident while they were on holiday. Just after his death she wrote a really inspirational, heartfelt essay about life, love and loss, which she posted on her Facebook page.”

Malala Yousafzai, activist, nominated by Lynda Davies, AMBITIOUS; “Malala has influenced so many people and accomplished so much at such a young age.  A campaigner for women’s education, she defied the Taliban demanding that girls should be allowed an education. Shot on her way home from school, she survived and has continued to speak out on the importance of education. She was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize in 2013 and in 2014 she was nominated again, this time winning and becoming the youngest person ever to receive the Nobel Peace Prize. What a truly amazing young woman!”

Vashti Seth, founder, Deki, nominated by Mel Beeby Clarke, AMBITIOUS; “At the end of that impressive list I am left with a bit of a ‘hard act to follow’ moment but there is a lady on our doorstep who I feel is definitely worth a moment in the spotlight today.

My nomination is Vashti Seth, founder of Bristol charity Deki. She was left £2,000 and a note ‘to do something good’ by her father when he passed away and with that has gone on to found and build the incredible Stokes Croft based charity that is Deki. Inspired by the Tibetan refugee Deki Dolkha her father sponsored as a child, Vashti has set up a pioneering person-to-person microloans platform where people in the UK can loan small amounts to people in developing countries to help them start a business and build a sustainable life. Truly inspirational stuff and I’d be beyond proud if my daughter did something like this when she was older.”

There are many more women who inspire us at work, at home or at play. International Women’s Day is a celebration of the the social, economic, cultural and political achievement of women and we are proud to be inspired by our colleagues and clients every single day.

Want to find out more? Celebrate or take action this International Women’s Day by joining leaders across the world who are pledging to take action as champions of gender parity.

Who will you be shining the spotlight on today?


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