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Creating Positive Footprints....

Pink Shoe Pops-Up in the North West!

On a brilliant sunny Thursday, Pink Shoe stepped out in Liverpool! Leading businesswomen and men from across the North West enjoyed a spectacular pop-up event at the UK’s tallest restaurant Panoramic 34. 

Helene Martin Gee thanked everyone for coming; NW chairman Úna McBride; wonderful speakers- Jill Pay, Serjeant at Arms at House of Commons; Sylvia Tidy-Harris founder of 4 companies including womenspeakers.co.uk; Alison Loveday, Managing Partner of Manchester law firm Berg; and Panoramic 34 for hosting us.

Delighted to be in iconic Liverpool – historically centre of the world via shipping and its unbeatable music heritage, Helene referred to the growing focus on creative and media business.
She gave a brief introduction to Pink Shoe Club. Explaining pink was a boy’s colour until 1920s so in a way Pink Shoe is reclaiming the power of pink, showing we’re happy to celebrate powerful femininity.

Helene talked about the exciting Global Entrepreneurship Congress in March. Pink Shoe is very active with entrepreneurs and is planning to be fully involved in the GEC and fringe events.

The club's main facets are entrepreneurship; thought leadership and getting more women into senior roles; and close links to Parliament, which influences every aspect of our lives- using the connection to get the voice of women heard. Also, links with European Women in Leadership (WIL), Women in Public Policy and with Vistage UK.

At Pink Shoe events there are no badges, which encourages wider networking and often unexpectedly successful connections. PSC seeks ‘radiators’ not ‘sponges’, women (and men) who are successful in their lives; aim to share ideas and do business together; also want to give something back.

Helene said its essential to leave a legacy, partly achieved through ‘Pink Potentials’ some of whom had helped at the event and greeted guests, along with Pink Shoe London ambassadors.

Previous Pink Potentials are working around the world – a museum in Tokyo, top ad agency in Paris, think tank in London, running a human rights charity in Kosovo...

Pink Shoe is a peer-to-peer group, just 150 ambassadors in each city by invitation only, plus growing number of Diplomat members also very senior and successful, both women and men. Members from the North West will be welcome at events both in the region and in London and Brussels.

The club is organising these pop-up events in response to the requirements of businesswomen in the area, and with local passion and know-how. Helene said this passion is epitomized by Úna McBride – local businesswoman and tireless campaigner, founder member of Pink Shoe who lobbied hard to ensure the North West was the first Pink Shoe pop-up. 

Úna then warmly welcomed guests and shared her delight at having a full house. She explained her personal passion for the region and its people and places.

Úna's vision is for Pink Shoe women in the North West to connect and do business as well as have fun. To support each other in their own business and career goals, whilst also being able to hold a hand out to the next generation.

Úna said the Pink Potentials team at the event of Dani, Katie & Chloe are young women who will go far and Pink Shoe aims to help them.

She thanked Helene, Vanda Green and the London Pink Shoe members who had joined us, and praised Panoramic 34 and its extraordinary views, also the excellent Panoramic team who looked after us so well from start to finish, and prepared the splendid afternoon tea.

Úna then opened the conversation and welcomed her illustrious panelists Jill, Sylvia & Alison.

North West Tête-à-Têtes Tea

The first Tête-à-Têtes conversation in the North West opened to a discussion on the challenges and opportunities facing senior women today.

Jill Pay said the House of Commons is still very male-dominated. It’s beginning to change and there are now more female MPs. The administration office has many senior females managers, although there are at present no women on the board.

Sylvia Tidy-Harris explained that as a manager of speakers and media experts, including new Dragon Hilary Devey, her field is very accessible to women. She is glad to see that last year’s victory over ageism at the BBC was creating greater opportunities for mature women in the media. Alison Loveday’s view is that the field of law is also changing, with more than 50% of law graduates now female. That too is an opportunity as more women enter the profession and reach the top.

The panel then shared some of their 'Top Tips’ for Success. Jill said the key for her is to do something you enjoy and are passionate about. Sylvia agreed that passion is vital, and that as an entrepreneur she very much relies on a good team around her.

Jill went on to describe her role model - Betty Boothroyd, former Speaker of the House of Commons and a formidable and feminine professional, who was widely respected for her handling of the role of Speaker. Ms Boothroyd had shared some of her wisdom with Jill when she first took up the post of Serjeant at Arms. Speakers all agreed that role models are more important than ever. Sylvia’s clients at womenspeakers.co.uk are all experts in their field, speaking from real knowledge of their sector.

Úna took the conversation into a more frivolous field to talk about – of course- shoes! The group admired Alison’s shoes, which whilst not pink were nonetheless gorgeous. Sylvia told us she loves a bargain and shops at a factory outlet, which sells all the big brands at knockdown prices; sworn to secrecy she couldn’t be persuaded to reveal its location. Helene admitted to having 33 pairs of pink shoes (not to mention many other pairs in different colours), she gets 'told off' when she doesn’t wear pink on her feet!

Úna asked us to consider a more serious subject, in the light of the recent welcome increase in the number of women on boards. The panel then discussed whether quotas should be introduced. All three panellists outlined why they believe this would be wrong, saying quotas are a bad idea "we don't want tokenism" was the view expressed.

Jill felt strongly that women must get there on merit and it was generally agreed that although the percentage is still far too low and that this is frustrating, quotas are not the route to go.

Úna then asked the audience to vote on the question of quotas. Almost unanimously they responded with a resounding NO! Just one audience member felt quotas were possibly a good idea, as it will take far too long to get there otherwise. 99% of the group do not want to see quotas for boards introduced.

With questions from the audience, Atiti Sosimi asked how people balanced work and home life. Alison said she needs a wife! Like many women, she juggles with work and family responsibilities, often putting the children to bed then getting back on the computer to continue working.

Catherine Fairhurst from Ernst & Young asked whether things are more difficult today for young women considering business or entrepreneurship in this age of celebrity. While some thought it does add to pressure, in fact the consensus was that the TV spotlight on entrepreneurs could be a good thing. Highlighting positive role models, we all agreed is essential for all young people.

Sylvia then drew our attention to the increasing problem of cyber bullying via social networks, this is appalling for everyone who experiences it whether young or more mature, and its something we all need to work on together to stamp it out.

Given Liverpool’s hosting of the Global Entrepreneurship Congress in March, Jeanette Keyhoe-Perkinson asked how best to encourage more young women to set up their own business. Many organisations find that far fewer girls consider self-employment.

For this again, role models are key, there are in fact successful female entrepreneurs and young women need to have the opportunity to hear their stories. As Training Partner, Alison works with many enthusiastic young people and enjoys helping them develop their careers.

Helene said that Pink Shoe have many young women engaging via its annual enterprise event in Parliament, which attracts roughly 50/50 male and female students. She also stressed the need to highlight successful SMEs and that niche businesses can provide very attractive case studies. A business does not have to be big to be a success.

Sylvia cited the example of one of her clients, with us at the event was Nikki Hesford award-winning founder of Miss Fit UK who at 26 has been running her own business for 4 years. Nikki is certainly a beacon for other budding young entrepreneurs and this was a very positive end to a captivating conversation.

Helene then read a message of support from Pink Shoe Patron, the Home Secretary Rt Hon Theresa May MP. And Úna invited guests to continue mingling over the excellent afternoon tea, as pink Perrier Jouet was served. Úna also announced our collection for local charity PSS (which raised over £130).

At 5pm we moved into the bar area for another glass of Champagne and listened to local schoolgirl Chloe Mclaughlan sing “This is the dream” written specifically for the Olympics. Chloe provided a brilliant end to an amazing event. She is just 14 and attends Bishops Rawstorne Church of England Academy in Croston. The song is available on YouTube from 1st February. 

Úna brought the afternoon to a close as guests drifted homewards with their super goody bags created by Panoramic’s lovely Leona and including samples from local business Tru Organics, info and mousemats from Parliament and a pretty pink flower.

Some guests lingered to continue networking in the superb Panoramic bar, enjoying unbeatable views of Liverpool at night. We had met many amazing women and we all love Liverpool!

With HUGE thanks: Vanda Green, Atiti Sosimi, Chris Martin, Sue Hall, Dani Roe, Katie Gray, Chloe McLaughlan; Jill Pay, Sylvia Tidy-Harris & Alison Loveday. Panoramic 34, especially Leona & Sarah & the great restaurant team & kitchen brigade. Tina & Ruth from Tru; Ling Tyler-Bennett & London members Kaz Brine, Diane Shawe & Almira Ross.

Entrepreneur Award for Sara Murray

At the British Institute of Technology & E-Commerce Awards, Buddi Founder Sara Murray received the Creative Entrepreneur of the Year Award.

Presented at the House of Lords by BITE Vice Chancellor and Chairman of the All-Party Entrepreneurship Group, Lord Ahmed of Rotherham.

Sara, who is an Ambassador Member of Pink Shoe Club, was nominated for the Award by Pink Shoe Founder Helene Martin Gee, who accompanied Sara as she collected the Award.