Women as Leaders Conference 2011

The IoD Women as Leaders conference held on Wednesday 9 November, hosted nearly 300 delegates listening, to 13 inspirational speakers; including Dame Fiona Reynolds, Director General of The National Trust, Ruby McGregor-Smith, Chief Executive of MITIE Group and Justine Roberts, Co-founder of Mumsnet.

Throughout the day delegates were provided with key insights, some of the highlights included:

The increasing trend in connectivity
O2′s Head of SMB Marketing, predicts three big trends for the future that will help people work more effectively – collaboration, consumerisation and cloud. She continued on to explain “Cloud computing provides flexibility. It means work has become what you do, not where you go”.

Tracy De Groose, Managing Director of Carat also highlighted the importance of connectivity for working practices in the future. “In the past, success was achieved through competition personal drive and ambition. In the future, success will be achieved through collaboration and partnerships”.

Lessons in Leadership
Delagates also gained some advice with regards to leadership styles.
Rachel Clacher, co-founder of Moneypenny informed delegates of how she leads her business “Our business ethic is to treat others as you would want to be treated yourself”.

‘To succeed we need to stand out from the crowd while being part of that crowd’ says Tracy De Groose. Her top four tips in this area are:

  1. Back yourself
  2. Put your hand up
  3. Be authentic
  4. Don’t be afraid to fail

Rebecca George, Partner at Deloitte also gave her three tips for success which are:

  1. Believe in yourself
  2. Focus on the positives
  3. Promote yourself

Mmasekgoa Masire-Mwamba, Commonwealth Secretariat Deputy Secretary-General inspired delegates by explaining the female leadership on a global scale “Allow yourself the scope to grow and get out of your comfort zone”. This video provides some further insight into what she thinks are the key qualities of leadership.

Social Media
Social media was a common theme throughout the day. Ruby McGregor-Smith, Chief Executive of MITIE discussed how social media is key for their business stating ‘We do it not because it’s enjoyable but because there is a new generation to reach”. She also highlighted “It’s ok not to have rules and be braver than others when using social media.”

Delegates were also advised by Justine Roberts, Co-founder of Mumsnet “If you are going to engage in social media you really need to listen”.

Starting up a business
Entrepreneur Nikki Hesford, Founder of Miss Fit, told delegates how she managed to launch Miss Fit without the help of the banks thanks to having a great credit rating. “Without my great credit rating I wouldn’t be where I am today”.

Women on Boards
“There is no doubt that role of a director has been seen in the past as a job for the boys,” stated Simon Walker, Director General of the IoD, as he welcomed the delegates to the day long conference. “This image is changing, but it has not yet been entirely dispelled.

“The notion that women should not play an equal role with men in the boardroom is not only unjust, but — equally importantly — inconsistent with the efficient functioning of a modern economy. I am absolutely convinced that the IoD must assume a position of leadership in advancing the cause of diversity on boards and in other leadership positions.”

ICAEW’s Director of Member Services, Sharron Gunn also discussed the progress of getting more women into company boardrooms, she stated “Its not just about women on the board today, we’ve got to focus on the pipeline”. This is something that Ruby McGregor-Smith also agreed with “It is important to focus on diversity and talent, not just on the board, but across the organisation” she also endorsed Return to Work schemes & tax breaks in relation to the ‘leaking pipeline’ of women in business.

Dame Fiona Reynolds answers your questions
We asked for questions via Twitter that we could ask the speakers at the event. Here are some of the questions that we received with the answers.

@Ladylaff – How will she make a stronger case for the long term value of Britain’s natural assets so they aren’t threatened in every recession?

@ RICHARDROLFEJSY – What 3 lessons can she give to others

Twitter Conversations on the Day

@AllAboutTouch: Had a fabulous day at @iod #WAL conference. Brilliant speakers – inspiring and provocative!

@clairedarley: Inspirational speech by mmasekgoa masire-mwamba commonwealth secretariat deputy secretary general at IoD #iodwal

@NikkiHesford: Thank you ladies of #IoDWAL today, I was very nervous but you were a lovely crowd. Hope you all had a great day!

@SimonLipyeat: #IoDWAL. All great things coming in 3′s; 3P’s- purpose, presence, passion, 3C’s-collaboration, consumerisation, cloud. More letters pls!

@IdeaFoundation1: Brilliant – IOD women as Leaders conference, I go away with empathy and attitude

@Womensleaders: Rebecca George: “we need to strive to make our organizations better for everyone – which then makes it better for women.” #IoDWAL

@sbbken: An interesting and inspiring day at the IoD conference today


The Women as Leaders conference 2011 was sponsored by O2, ICAEW, Hiscox, Totally Exec.

To see photos from the day please visit our Flickr page

You can see blogs from previous Women as Leaders conferences at the following links:
2010 Women as Leaders conference
2009 Women as Leaders conference

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