I continue to have the pleasure of supporting some hard working clients who are running profitable and successful businesses, and others who are enthusiastic learners and great company!
Early September saw me off to Birmingham to meet the team running the Aston Business School 10,000 Small Business growth programme.
As the newly appointed ABS programme facilitator I’ve enjoyed meeting my counterparts in Leeds and Manchester, swapping ideas and experiences. It’s also been quite an ‘Eye-Opener’ being part of the interview process selecting new recruits to the Manchester programme and being reminded of the ‘clear and present dangers’ of running a small business and the challenges associated with growth.
If you know of a small business or social enterprise in the Midlands absolutely committed to profitable growth but looking for an effective and proven support structure, then mouse here, and let me know.
Also in early September I was really pleased to share lunch with Ruth Evans, Headteacher of Cantell Maths & Computing College in Southampton to discuss what I was doing as a Modern Muse and whether I could do anything to share some positive messages with students.
Ruth then took me on a tour of the College and compared with my memories of secondary education, this place was smart, modern and vibrant. The students we bumped into in the corridors were engaged and well mannered, and the teachers seemed enthusiastic and committed. I felt sooooo envious!
Back on the road again in mid-September where I attended the Construction Diversity Conference in London’s Guildhall to deliver a workshop for the CIOB. It was a fabulously sunny breezy day when London seemed at its best, the Guildhall is a fabulous building full of architectural surprises.
My workshop called “Making an Impact: Connectivity, making networks work!” was designed to encourage attendees to better utilise their networks in order to enhance their career, business or academic prospects and gain support and access to more opportunities. This is a critical issue for people not White and male who are much less likely to be in the construction industry, especially at middle and senior levels, despite the evidence of real skills gaps emerging.
You can read the CIOB’s report on gender diversity here.
From there I travelled up to Warwick Business School where I always feel at home despite 20 years passing since doing my MBA there. I was transfixed when settling into my room at Radcliffe House that evening, watching Swallows and their young swooping about over the lakes and practicing their ‘autumnal gatherings’.
The following day was incredibly intense as I joined other Coach-Facilitators to take the new WBS Distance Learning MBA students through a tightly run leadership development day. My colleague Peter Fennah and I worked well as a double act despite only having had a short telephone call’s preparation. He was the ‘nice Cop’ and I was… well, you can imagine…!
A few days later I was invited to deliver a Masterclass on being a fabulous Ambassador at the RBS Pearls Launch Event. The Pearls are part of ‘An Inspirational Journey’; a new organisation set up by the wonderful Heather Jackson and her capable sidekick Erica Frazier. The initiative is designed to support the improved utilisation of female talent in sponsoring Corporates committed to gender diversity and to developing more women into senior positions.
The morning was a fascinating set of talks and panel discussions on the barriers and opportunities facing women in banking, and included insights from Chris Sullivan, CEO of Corporate Banking RBS (an AIJ headline sponsor), the lovely Kate Turner, Head of Private Banking Coutts & Co., Kathryn Winup, RBS, and Aidene Walsh, Head of Global Transaction Services UK & Ireland to name a few.
Thankfully my interactive session after lunch with nearly 100 women in banking (plus 1 man), went down a storm and covered influencing & persuasion magic, presentation power, and mentoring in action… the perfect combination for those wishing to become more active and effective Pearls Ambassadors.
On the 22nd September I attended the Google Euro Diversity Awards at the Savoy, The Strand, London as a guest of RBS. It was a fabulously glittering evening reception followed by a first class dinner and charity auction.
The atmosphere was electric and the whole event wonderfully hosted by BBC newsreader, Jane Hill who was stunning.
RBS scooped two awards: Campaign of the Year award, and European Diversity Champion of the Year award for the work of Chris Sullivan, CEO of Corporate Banking RBS.
Chris acknowledged the huge contribution of his team in managing a number of critical initiatives and programmes to proactively support the equality agenda.
The end of September I flew up to Leeds to join RBS friends and attend dinner at the wonderful Rudding Park in Harrogate, organised by ‘An Inspirational Journey’ for their annual flagship conference. This was another Black Tie/Cocktail dress function and unusually for me, I got the sequins out… if not the stilettos! The Gala evening was prior to The Women’s Business Forum conference on the Friday, and we enjoyed a gorgeous 5 course meal interspersed with speakers of global renown: Chris Sullivan, CEO Corporate Banking, RBS, Tim Solso, CEO of Cummins Inc., and Liz Bingham, Managing Partner from Ernst &Young.
The following day’s conference was just as stunning, helped by unusually hot ‘Indian Summer’ weather and a beautiful parkland setting. Read about how I shook the hand of the man who shook the hand of Obama (sad, but true), here.
After all of this, I managed to get away for a welcome break and spend time in training with my American Quarter Horse, Ché at Court Lodge Farm, Bodiam, East Sussex, the venue for the national British Reining Championships the 1st weekend in October. The weather held fair and the fresh air and exercise the ‘perfect de-stressor’. Doug Allen, British Team Member, International Judge and Trainer had done a great job training Ché for a couple of weeks before my arrival.
We had our best show ever, but most of all, enjoyed the support of friends and met many new people watching Reining for the first time. Ché as ever was like a dog-with-2-tails and went about his work with gusto, if ever a horse could grin it would be him.
By mid-October I was indulging in some serious business development / CPD by attending a 3 day workshop in Solihull run by the fascinating Peter Thomson. This was an absolutely full-on event, helping participants focus on turning expertise and writing skills into information products. The pressure was only broken by some very entertaining short keynotes delivered by participants over evening dinner. A fact-packed thought-provoking and sometimes hilarious weekend.
Watch this space…