The Women in Leadership Conference 2020

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On 28th February at the luxurious Sopwell House, St Albans, the Hertfordshire Chamber of Commerce held their first ever Women in Leadership Conference, with their Headline Sponsor; JPA Workspaces. Rina Sond, Partner, was on the panel to talk about how women strive to “have it all”.

This sold out event, with over 150 delegates, set to inspire women across the County with a line-up of successful businesswomen and entrepreneurs.

Delegates had the opportunity to hear from Sarah Howard MBE, Chair of the British Chambers of Commerce as she discussed her own experiences within the world of business, and the BCC’s People Campaign.

Having conducted research in the field for an MSc in Coaching & Behavioural Change at Henley Business School, Janet Hayes, Executive Coach, Necton Consulting – Potential in People, explained her findings in a presentation titled ‘Can you have it all? Women’s Transition to Leadership’.

Fiona Edwards, Commercial and Sustainability Director, JPA Workspaces told of her experience being labelled a ‘Housewife or Secretary’ at school and how she has defied all expectations.

Anita Brightley-Hodges of Family Business Place introduced the experienced panel of successful businesswomen and entrepreneurs including our own Rina Sond who spoke of her experiences progressing her legal career in a field which at the time had very few senior female role models, and particularly from BAME (Black, Asian and minority ethnic) backgrounds.

Other panel members were: Naomi Connell, Chief Finance Officer, VolkerWessels UK; Sarah Moreland MBE, Executive Director, Hertfordshire Agricultural Society; Hannah Prowse, Preconstruction Manager, Special Projects team, Sir Robert McAlpine; Nicole Sadd, Chief Executive Officer, Rothamsted Enterprises; and Sharon Taylor OBE, Leader, Stevenage Borough Council.

Each member of the panel had an inspiring story to tell, from wanting to be Prime Minister to juggling every day life and children with work.

After lunch the delegation broke into groups to hear from Breakout Session speakers: Pauline Kidd, Leadership Development Specialist and Johanna Guerin, HR Consultant, HR Blah Blah Blah on Leading with Resilience; Jenny Garrett, Leadership Development Consultant, Jenny Garrett Global on Unshakeable Self Confidence; and Carole Spiers, CEO & Founder, Carole Spiers Group on Maintaining a Healthy Work/Life Balance.

One delegate said the day was: “Inspirational. Motivational and a bit of soul searching and understanding me better.”

Throughout the day a raffle took place in aid of Herts Domestic Abuse Helpline, for which the Chamber are proud to have raised £213.00 to be match funded by Barclays Bank.

Last but not least, the fantastic Kelly Smith MBE took part in a Q&A style interview with Herts Chamber’s own Mary Sykes.

From starting out her career at the age of eight, by posing as a boy in her younger brother’s football team, to going off to America on her own at the age of seventeen on a football scholarship, to ending up as Captain of the England Women’s football team.

After hearing Kelly’s talk, one delegate commented: “I thought Kelly was very inspiring – it was all about her desire and pushing herself. I think these themes are crucial for anyone in a leadership role.”

Kelly’s story invoked tears and laughter throughout the audience as she described her journey, and everyone left that room feeling like maybe they could, actually ‘have it all’.

Photo caption: Kelly Smith MBE and Rina Sond at the conference