Feeling inspired by the impact of women in business

by Shannon Houde

As a female entrepreneur, mother, daughter and sister, it’s not often I have the time to remind myself just how well my fellow businesswomen and I are doing. Last month, I did just that at the Women in European Business Conference in London, and came away feeling invigorated, inspired and supported by the extraordinary speakers, delegates and women in business I encountered there.

This year’s conference was themed on the notion of impact and examined the effects of the trailblazing individuals who have left their mark on both society and business.

women in business, Feeling inspired by the impact of women in business


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Speakers included ethical investor Emma Howard Boyd of Jupiter Asset Management, social sector venture capitalist Daniela Barone Soares, president of international markets at MasterCard, Ann Cairns, Harvard Business School’s Amy Cuddy, and the inimitable Joanna Lumley.  For the full list, see here.

One of my favourites for sustainability jobseekers was Amy Cuddy’s Ted Talk on why ‘Your body language shapes who you are‘.

women in business, Feeling inspired by the impact of women in business

It has been viewed over 17 million times – and with good reason! She explains how high power poses like the Wonder Woman stance can increase testosterone and decrease cortisol to give you more confidence while improving risk tolerance and abstract thinking. Low power poses like hunching your back to read emails do the opposite. Naturally, she suggests doing two minutes of power poses before an important job interview, because they help to change “not what you said, but how you said it”.

Below are some of my favourite takeaways from the event. I hope they inspire you too!

Top tips for women in the workplace:

  • Stop saying sorry – feel good and confident and stop apologising
  • Feeling uncomfortable is a good thing, use it to challenge yourself
  • Don’t be risk adverse. See the gaps in job descriptions as the challenge
  • Get mentors and sponsors who will vouch for you – you need to ask!
  • Fake it until you become it
  • Tiny incremental changes lead to big ones

Favourite career advice:

  • When seeking a new role, don’t be afraid to ask (such as for a Board role)
  • Start your own business and don’t give a personal guarantee
  • If it’s not working, change your job, change your boss
  • Find your drivers or what motivates you

Key traits for leadership:

  • Ability to inspire others
  • Charisma
  • Self-awareness
  • Ability to communicate your vision and give others the authority to implement on the ground
  • Not worrying about what others are thinking about you, but listening to what others are thinking

Finding inspiration:

  • Take time to take space to reflect on your career and life
  • Leverage the multiplier effect of helping charities, helping others
  • Through business, do something that is really big

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