1. FLOURISH PHYSICALLY; GROW STRONG AND HEALTHY.
“HIS BUSINESS PROSPERED”
The collective theme for 2021’s International Women’s Day is #ChoosetoChallenge. The challenge is a distinct call to action to call-out gender injustices and push for change.
Here at Prosper² we have some incredibly strong women who have flourished throughout their personal and professional journeys, and today we are highlighting those who embrace the Choose to Challenge mantra and bring real change to the business community, not just on International Women’s Day, but always.
WHY DO YOU SUPPORT WOMEN’S EMPOWERMENT AND GENDER EQUALITY?
Janine (Regional Sales Director): Women have been oppressed for years, a lot of it by our own doing. However, intellect, social transformation and business knowledge is now giving women the right to make our own choices and be taken seriously.
Rebecca (Executive Assistant): Women are amazing.
Sue (Business Development Director): Because it is important that women have the same opportunities as men. That said, women need to believe that they are equal
Grace (Social Media Coordinator): I think it’s important for everyone to support gender equality if we are ever going to live in a fair and desired meritocratic society.
Anna (Regional Sales Director): In business what matters the most is the skills, the knowledge, the experience and the personality of the individual, irrelevant of the gender. No one should be underestimated.
Keeley (Finance Director): I think it is very important to show our future generations that we can do everything that a man can do. We shouldn’t let anyone or anything stand in our way if it is what we want.
WHY SHOULD MORE WOMEN JOIN THE BUSINESS COMMUNITY?
Janine: Women in Business is a great example, where like-minded females motivate each other, empower, support and give advice.
Rebecca: Women offer other thoughts and views on topics maybe not thought of by men. By having more women in our community, it balances views and opinions for everyone to benefit from.
Sue: To have a rounded view there needs to be both male and female points of view. Unfortunately even in today’s world there are not enough women in high level positions to be able to have an equal playing field.
Anna: More women joining the business community provides a positive role model and impression for younger women. It also brings greater diversification – men and women have different experiences and backgrounds which shape their approach to business. Challenging and collaborating with each other has a powerful impact on the success of the business.
Keeley: A woman’s network is a strong network, to have other successful women to look to for advice and guidance is second to none.
WHAT CHALLENGE HAVE YOU HAD TO OVERCOME THAT YOU ARE MOST PROUD OF?
Janine: Becoming a Mother
Rebecca: I designed and built our own home. This was a real challenge from start to finish; from gaining planning permission in ancient woodland to engineering a complex piling system to allow us to build on clay. Choosing and getting materials delivered to an Island whilst chasing trades men and getting them to understand the ethos of what we were trying to achieve. Four years later we built something beautiful which I am incredibly proud of.
Sue: Having the confidence to go out to the Middle East to work at age 21. To start TLC in 2004, overcome the 2008 recession having just sunk all my money into a training facility. Completing my offshore licence at the age of 51. Being frightened of water all my life having to be turned upside down in a helicopter simulator with no breathing apparatus and having to get out of the window. To give up TLC at age 57 and put everything into a new career. My message has to be welcome challenges, they are what drive achievement, ambition and keep us young.
Grace: I have always been considered the underdog, and in-turn I have found it completely terrifying taking on any new challenge because I have always had to tackle with my confidence, but it is definitely something I am working on. One of the biggest things that am most proud of however is, 1) applying for a scholarship for a once in a lifetime opportunity to study in the US and 2) moving to the US completely by myself, not knowing what I am getting myself into!
Anna: Perhaps the biggest challenge I have had to overcome is moving to UK when I just turned 18, not knowing anyone or anything and leaving my family and friends behind. It hasn’t been an easy journey getting to where I am now, it was full of ups and downs, however I am grateful for every decision and mistake I have made, and I am extremely proud of all my achievements so far.
Keeley: Studying and qualifying with first time passes whilst working a demanding full-time role. Another challenging time was adapting back to working life after having my little boy 3 years ago, getting the work life balance right to enjoy my baby and still be able to meet my deadlines and fulfil my duties for my role.
WHY DO WE NEED MORE WOMEN IN LEADERSHIP?
Janine: Women thrive in managerial positions, as they bring a completely different approach to the table. Women have a better understanding of personal issues and connect on a different level with their employees. They are empathetic, great listeners, able to multi task, motivated by challenges and strong communicators.
Rebecca: I think women naturally encourage status quo thoughts to be challenged. Balanced gender boardrooms make better decisions.
Sue: Women have a level of empathy, organisational skills and want others to succeed.
Grace: Throughout time, women have suffered oppression, naturally making them more nurturing and empathetic, but also recognising right from wrong, and challenging injustices and inequality. It’s important that if change is going to happen for gender equality, that change is happening from the top.
Anna: Women are great at multi-tasking and they dream big, they value work-life balance and can wear many hats. Diversity in leadership is key for businesses. The new service economy doesn’t rely on physical strength but skills that come easily to women – attention to detail, determination and measured thinking.
WHAT WOMEN-RELATED MYTHS OR TABOOS NEED TO BE BROKEN?
Janine: I know it is a hot topic at the moment, endometriosis and the menopause.
Rebecca: The word Feminism has become a bit of a threatening ideology unnecessarily. Men are our allies not our enemies.
Sue: That only a few women cannot reach the high-level positions in industry. This is changing but more flexibility would allow this to happen quicker.
Grace: That when a woman is passionate about something, it is deemed as confident and not forceful, and ambitious not aggressive.
Anna: Women are deemed to be more emotional and family orientated, which should be looked as a positive rather than a negative. Women excel at soft skills – communication, empathy and emotional intelligence which gives them a competitive advantage.
Keeley: That we can’t be a mummy and succeed in our chosen profession.
WHICH WOMAN IS YOUR INSPIRATION?
Janine: Michelle Obama
Rebecca: There are so many women I admire. Just recently I watched the Netflix documentary on Ruth Bader Ginsburg. I had no idea what an incredibly fierce and liberal women she was. She made such moves in overcoming sexism in the American legal system but stood strong over other injustices made to men and small minority groups too. She was simply incredible in my opinion.
Sue: Margaret Thatcher – forget her politics – she fought for what she wanted and believed in, sometimes at a cost to herself.
Grace: Gloria Steinam – she’s one of the original liberal feminists, she criticises moral grandstanding, and believes that instead of focusing on the words, you should focus on the actions, which I think is incredibly important in today’s society and cancel culture. Aside from turning the feminist movement on its side in the 60s and 70s, I recently watched ‘Mrs America’ on BBC iPlayer, and I was in awe of her style. RBG is also a huge inspiration of mine, and I was devasted when I heard of her passing in September of last year (2020).
Anna: I cannot name one person; I have always been inspired by successful individuals. For me successful is anyone who have mastered the work-life balance. We see a lot of famous entrepreneurs and celebrities who seem to be living a fairy tale on the outside but most of the times there is something broken on the inside.
Keeley: This is going to have to be my mumma, she raised 4 strong independent women and taught us all to know our worth and to always do our best in whatever we put our mind to. She is my biggest supporter even today.
WHAT SONG MAKES YOU WANT TO DANCE?
Janine: Mamma Mia
Rebecca: It has to be Mr. Blue Sky by the Electric Light Orchestra – cheesy I know!
Grace: My top 3 songs are I Wanna Be Your Lover by Prince, I Feel For You by Chakka Khan and Teardrops by Womack & Womack.
Anna: I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles) by The Proclaimers.
Keeley: Too many to mention, however an all-time favourite is Simply the Best, Tina Turner.
WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE A YOUNG WOMAN GOING INTO BUSINESS?
Janine: Don’t give up, believe in yourself and strive to be the best you possibly can.
Rebecca: If a woman were thinking about starting her own business I would say be brave! Becoming self-employed was the best decision I ever made. Just take the jump.
Sue: Be confident in your own skills and abilities. Don’t allow others to tell you that you cannot achieve the next level.
Grace: Be open to new opportunities, be passionate about everything that you do and reach out to people you admire. Advice is the best form of education for your personal and professional progression. It allows you to see things from a different perspective, and provides a platform for you to ideate what you want out of your career.
Anna: Be brave, be bold, know your worth and do not lose focus of your goals.
Keeley: To not be afraid to ask for help, never doubt your ability and that no question is a silly question.
WHEN ARE YOU AT YOUR HAPPIEST?
Janine: When surrounded by family and friends
Rebecca: When I’m out on the water. Whether sailing or on my paddle board is definitely my happy place. When out at sea all troubles and bad thoughts are left on land. Water is so good for the soul.
Sue: When I see those people that I have in some way supported, helped, given guidance – fly.
Grace: When I am on the Gaiety Theatre stage, performing some of my favourite musicals.
Anna: I am at my happiest when I am surrounded by the people I love.
Keeley: When I hear my little boys laughter.
WHAT DID YOU WANT TO BE WHEN YOU WERE YOUNGER?
Janine: A pharmacist
Rebecca: I had visions of becoming a lawyer, I went to university and studied law, only to realise it wasn’t for me!! I was a bit lost when I understood this about myself and ran off sailing round the Caribbean! I will always encourage my children to follow their dreams and do what makes them happy!
Sue: Apparently a maths teacher.
Grace: Part of S Club 7!
Anna: Archaeologist. I have always had a fascination for fossils and although I have chosen a different career path, I still have a little fossil collection at home.
Keeley: A footballer, until I was told that women don’t play football…
WHEN HAVE YOU FELT THE MOST EMPOWERED?
Janine: When I am at work, as I am in charge of my own destiny.
Sue: When I believe in myself and willing to stand my ground.
Anna: I used to do lots of modelling. Walking down the runway for some of the most famous designers – the confidence, the make-up, the lights, all eyes on me.
Keeley: Being asked to be a member of the board at Prosper².
WHAT QUOTE DO YOU LIVE BY?
Janine: “Believe in yourself and you can achieve anything”.
Sue: “Never say never – you have no idea what tomorrow holds”.
Grace: “Of all the things outside of our control, two things we can always be are the hardest worker in the room and the kindest”
Anna: “Yesterday is not ours to recover, but tomorrow is ours to win or lose” – Lyndon B. Johnson
Keeley: “In a world where you can be anything, be kind”.