Just recently I was privileged to be involved in the inaugural EveryGirl Modern Muse, event at The Ark in Basingstoke.
The brainchild of human dynamo Liz Jackson, Managing Director of the hugely successful Great Guns telemarketing business, the concept for the event was born when Liz saw a survey showing that 14-18 year old girls generally stated Jordan or Cheryl Cole as their role models. Now, with no disrespect to those two ladies, Liz decided to make it her mission to show girls in Basingstoke that there are some incredibly successful and talented ladies right here in the town and also at the helm of some enormous organisations from eBay to Hewlett Packard, SimplyHealth to Contraband.
There were a great number of schools represented at the event and over 300 girls turned up to hear what the dynamic ladies had to say.
Liz was followed by Maria Miller MP one of the few female MP’s in Westminster and our own MP for Basingstoke.
As well as some much needed Conference aerobics to get the blood flowing there were then a number of break-out sessions for the girls to choose from as follows:
1) “Follow the Leader” with Narinder Uppal of the Chartered Management Institute.
2) “TrailBlazers” panel of successful ladies in their 20s tell their stories and take your questions about creating & making the most of opportunities (Barrister Rebecca Lloyd , Ella Shilling of Hewlett Packard and Vicky Ferguson from charity Glad’s House)
3) “Taking control of your pathway”- 3 local ladies talk about building their companies and take your questions on how to become a successful entrepreneur
It was no surprise that the session involving the young ladies in their 20’s was extremely popular with many girls saying they valued it most because their experiences were much more current (think that was their polite way of telling the rest of us we were old)! What these young ladies have already achieved in their lives in nothing short of incredible and it was fantastic to hear the audience buzzing with excitement and lots of comments around how inspiring the speakers were.
For my part I was on a panel with the lovely Sam Willoughby (What’s on 4) and Felicity Edwards (Destination Basingstoke) flying the flag for female entrepreneurs. It was great to be able to share some of my experiences and answer lots of fantastic questions from the audience about what it is like to run my own business, how I came up with the idea, what I would do differently, how did I do at school (not that well in all honesty so it just goes to show that academic excellence isn’t the whole story)!
The event was also a social media success with Facebook and Twitter being adopted to promote the event before, during and after. There was lots of activity on Twitter with many of the girls using the adopted Twitter hashtag of #EveryGirlMM to add their thoughts. I was delighted that my favourite aphorism “It’s your attitude, not your aptitude, which determines your altitude” was tweeted and resonated with many.
As well as enjoying the day and getting to meet some amazing women (I think I learnt as much that day as the audience did) the most rewarding part was reading the feedback afterwards. To say the event had been a resounding success would be an understatement. An almost 100% tally of 9’s and 10’s on the overall value of the event accompanied by lots of comments about how inspired girls had been, how they believed much more was possible for themselves now, that they hadn’t had anything like this at school and how they really hoped that this type of event would be run again in the future.
Liz is obviously planning her next move now – I wouldn’t expect anything less – and I can’t wait to be involved. It’s truly rewarding to be right in the thick of the action making a tangible difference to girl’s lives and aspirations.
Please see below for some photos from the day:
If you’re interested in getting involved either from a corporate sponsorship perspective or as a future speaker please contact Liz at Great Guns via her PA Debbie firstname.lastname@example.org
For my part I’m looking forward to what comes next and delighted that Minerva is fulfilling our Corporate Social Responsibility obligations even though we’re only a relatively small operation.