Why did you want to launch a Game Changing Summit for 100 visionary leaders?
I have been training leadership communications for more than a decade now and I have found that, over the years, there is something very special about women as communicators. We are incredible when we give ourselves the confidence to speak. We talk in an authentic way and yet; there are very few women in positions of visibility. Thirty-three per cent of MPs are women, 30 per cent are board members and only 11 per cent of After Dinner speakers are women. Where are all the women? And why can’t they make it to after dinner?!
My take on this issue is not to think there are too many men in senior positions and that we need to pull them down. It is not about men bashing. It is more a case of how can we encourage more women to step up and become role models for others? This Game Changing Summit is a way of beginning to address that and inspiring others to dare to speak up about the things that matter.
This Summit is a chance to focus on how we, as a collective, can create change and how we can be bolder, effective and daring when it comes to speaking out.
Do you hope the Game Changing Summit will become a regular event?
I would like the Game Changing Summit to happen twice a year. My mini vision is to create 100 visionary leaders over the next five years. My big vision is to create an army of leaders who are a force to be reckoned with on this planet and who can use their talent to bring about positive change in our world.
So what kind of backgrounds do the delegates attending the Summit come from?
We’ve got many amazing Game Changing women attending. Everyone from people who have set up charities and those who are at the grass roots in Calais to the corporate executives who have incredible backgrounds in banking and technology. We’ve got a whole spectrum of delegates from different industries and my goal is to push everyone together to create incredible things together. It’s about momentum…
How did you whittle the delegates down?
It was actually quite tough because I had more than a thousand recommendations on Linkedin alone! I chose Cindy to co-host the event with me because of her amazing credibility, career and personality. I wanted to invite interesting women who have already achieved and who have space to go. We are all at the Summit showing evidence that we have achieved great things for our companies or our networks but there is more we can all do. I would like to invest my time in people who are growing and who can bring about more change than they currently do.
In your opinion, what key attributes make up a successful Game Changer?
The people who are Game Changers tend to see a problem and then fix the problem. People take responsibility. They don’t walk past the litter on the street – they pick it up. They are go-getters who don’t see barriers. I am sure everyone has the potential but there is a very special group who are habitually doing it. I really admire them.
What do you hope delegates will take away from the Summit?
I hope we can increase and multiply our impact as female leaders. If we stick by our words in the right way, we can create a multiplier in our personal impact and beyond. We are capable of communicating better ourselves and driving change in the area that we are passionate about.
How long does it take you to write a speech?
I can spend anywhere between two and ten hours writing a speech but my focus nowadays is on training others. I’d say one of my most public speeches was when I gave a TedX talk.
You’ve enjoyed an incredible career. Do you work 24/7 or have you managed to achieve that life/work balance?
I have a little boy and so I have to have a work/life balance! Since becoming a mother, I have become even more focused on my business. Weirdly, I get more done now than before. I am able to prioritise and as an entrepreneur, I love empowering my team. That has been my big challenge but it is something that’s now bearing fruit. I have to multiply my impact if I am going to grow my own business. What has been hugely exciting is to see the people who have benefited from my coaching – those who are terrified of speaking to those who avoid it and those who have ideas but tend to waffle!
What drives you?
The knowledge that I am contributing to a better world and helping people express themselves. I like helping others.
And who has inspired you over the years?
Winston Churchill. He is someone who was so formidable and when he spoke, he had the ability and gravitas to say ‘no’, which is a thing many women crave for. It feels a shame not to say a female leader but there again, maybe that goes back to my point of where are the women in senior positions?!
How would you describe yourself?
Enthusiastic, I care for people and I am quite pragmatic. I am more than your average leader and I can be quite direct. I like to crack on. People say I radiate love, which I feel very flattered by.
If you could pass any new piece of legislation tomorrow, what would it be and why?
I am not necessarily a fan of legislation but more a person who likes others to take responsibility and change something. I’d like to get people to stop moaning about their circumstances and start taking responsibility. That’s my angle in life. We all have the opportunity to decide how we will react. We don’t all have equal beginnings but we are responsible for our own life.
What advice do you have for others and what is the best career lesson you’ve learnt?
I learnt at University that you should do a job you love and then you will never have to work a day yourself. It’s so true because I am really grateful that I have a job I love. My encouragement to others is to be braver. I asked myself a few weeks ago if I would ever be a MP. I said ‘no’ but then if I am saying ‘no’ what about everyone else?! I need to take responsibility as well if I am calling on other women to do the same!
And finally, where do you see the Game Changing Summit in ten years’ time?
I tend to either be a tangible thinker or a big thinker who would love an army of leaders on the planet. I would love to bridge the gap we have. It’s challenging but if we have another general election, wouldn’t it be great if half the MPs were women? And wouldn’t it be amazing in ten years’ time if 20 per cent of After Dinner speakers were women? It does take time – especially in the corporate world – but doubling the numbers of women would be an amazing goal to achieve. And I am a great believer in aiming high