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Are there any female role models out there?

Last month at the Everywoman conference on November 18th, I had the pleasure of hearing a few successful business women share their stories, experiences and learnings from their entrepreneurial journeys.  In the afternoon there was a panel session with 3 very successful female entrepreneurs, all with a turnover well in excess of £1m.  At the end of the session, one of the delegates asked the panel “Who are your role models” , and each and everyone of them cited their mother and children.

REALLY?!?!?  My mother is my role model for raising my family (and she is a great role model for this) and my kids are wonderful role models for learning and development and self expression.  But, in business, for me at least, there are better role models for success.

But this got me thinking, we don’t do enough to celebrate successful women business owners and we certainly don’t give them enough profile.   So I would like to profile some of these wonderful women on this website so that we do have women that we can look up to who are strong examples of how to create a successful business while juggling busy lives.

Some of my role models are the typical ones like Anita Roddick as a trailblazer, an advocate, a woman who lived and breathed her values in her business.  From all accounts she wasn’t the easiest woman to work for, but she undoubtedly lead the way for women and for the cosmetics industry.

LK Bennett is another fantastic example of what you can achieve with persistence and belief.  She built a multi-million pound business from a small handbag label that she sold in concessions and a personal investment of £10,000 and a £15.000 loan.  She’s proven herself to be smart and savvy and a woman that we can all look up to.  She has recently sold her business to private equity. You can read a great interview with the Times here, or read all about her journey in Sue Stockdale’s book Secrets of Successful Women Entrepreneurs: How Ten Leading Business Women Turned a Good Idea into a Fortune

Another great role model is Cary Marsh, the founder of Mydeo.  Cary created Mydeo because she wanted to share video of her newborn son with his grandparents in Australia but didn’t want to post it on You Tube and the idea of Mydeo was formed.  You can read in interview with Cary here at Women and Home magazine

It’s easy to pick the female entrepreneur role models that offer consumer goods as these are ones that we are all familiar with, but what about the unsung heroines that have created amazing businesses in the B2B marketplace.

Some that I can think of include Janette Faherty, the CEO of Avanta – she is one of the most approachable women I have met and yet has created a £50m organisation with over 750 employees from her humble beginnings as a training manager.  Chey Garland is the CEO of Garlands, one of the biggest independent call centre outsources in the UK today started from 8 telephone lines in a very male dominated industry.

Then there are the small business owners who have created very successful businesses without lots of employees or infrastructure.  Lynne-Marie Eccleston with her business partner Ian Northmore created Rhea Consulting, a training and leadership company that works smart and across two continents with highly skilled resource delivering programmes for blue chip companies.

So, now we’d like to know… Who are your role models?  We’d really like to hear your thoughts and suggestions in the comments box.

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About Julie Hall

Hi, I'm Julie Hall, the founder of Women Unlimited. Which is my 4th business. I've had a business as a headhunter, a consultant, a new media agency and now finally Women Unlimited. I've learned lots of lessons - many of which could have been avoided. I hope you find the articles and stories on this website useful, and feel free to get in touch, I'd love to hear from you.

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One comment

  1. Yes! Our Chief Exec Claire Pritchard is a great role model-she heads up a successful social enterprise- GCDA.

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