In 2009, we launched a biannual conference called North East Women (NEW) Leaders which aims to inspire and help 16 – 18 year old girls from across the region to focus on leadership, as well as helping to raise the aspirations of young women in the North East.
The fact remains that while girls outperform boys at school, women are still under-represented in the top positions in the work place and we aim to confront this issue by giving girls the opportunity to hear from inspirational women who have been successful and to learn about leadership characteristics and skills.
Working in partnership with Northumbria University, Schools North East, the Entrepreneurs’ Forum, we have successfully run three NEW Leaders conferences with the latest taking place on 5th September 2014. All have been hosted at Northumbria University’s prestigious City East campus and attended by girls from North East schools as well as Newcastle High. We are looking forward to planning our next conference which will take place in September 2017.
At each conference, we have received substantial support from leading women in the region and further afield; all believing passionately in the need for strong female role models for the next generation of women to look up to.
Key Note Speakers have included:
Dr Jane Atkinson, Vice President of Sembcorp and the first women in the world to manage a blast furnace.
Fiona Cruickshank OBE, the Non Executive Director of SCM Pharma and leading business figure in North East England.
Jane Purdon, Director of Governance at football’s Premier League and in charge of the ‘rule book’.
Mags Vaughan, Traidcraft, who successfully changed career direction from an engineer to become the CEO of the pioneering fair trade retailer and development charity.
At our most recent conference, we wanted the girls to have the opportunity to have more in-depth conversations with successful women and we held Speed Mentoring sessions which proved hugely successful. Over 30 women from different backgrounds agreed to be Speed Mentors for the day and they were each quizzed by the girls who were able to learn that while each of their Mentors had achieved success through determination, resilience and hard work, they had each worked to their own personal strengths. This reinforced a lecture delivered by Dr Jane Turner, Associate Dean at Northumbria University, about the importance of being an authentic leader.
It has been an enormous privilege to work with our partners and so many leading women from across the region to support young women in the development of their skills. We look forward to planning our next NEW Leaders conference and will continue to champion our region’s young women and encourage them to be the courageous leaders of tomorrow in whatever career they choose to follow.