Get a mentor to get ahead say Northern Ireland Business Women
Having a business mentor can help you deal with change and improve your chances of success. That is the message 300 Northern Ireland female leaders in private, public and third sector organisations heard when they attended the 5th Women’s Leadership Conference on International Women’s Day.
At the Conference supported by Vodafone and organised by Women in Business NI the Institute of Directors, Kate Marshall of MaST Ireland and board member of WIBNI interviewed mentor Ronnie Foreman of Foreman Consultants and Angela Hoban of Purple Penguin. Angela, who comes from Westport in Co Mayo, has been mentored by Ronnie since she decided to set up her own event management company ten years ago.
Angela says “Ronnie has provided a sounding board when conditions change and I am unsure of my next steps. As an experienced businessman who has set up and sold his own business, and who now acts as a consultant to other companies, Ronnie has helped me avoid many pitfalls that could have slowed down my business growth. He has a tremendous network of contacts that he has shared with me.”
Ronnie Foreman believes a mentor must have no vested interest in the business being mentored: “You can’t give impartial advice if you expect any personal or financial gain from the company’s success beyond the satisfaction of seeing the individual or company achieve their potential. Angela’s business has grown to a turnover of more than half a million euro and I am proud to have been able to help her achieve this.”
The theme of the Conference was Leading in Changing Times, recognising the challenges that women in all sectors of the community are facing in the current economic climate. Speakers from the private sector, public sector and third sector described how they and their organisations are dealing with the challenges that have been created by tough financial conditions but are also exploiting the opportunities that arise in times like this.
Opening the Conference, Eileen Mullan of Strictly Boardroom, reported on a scoping study that reveals that although many women are interested in serving on public boards, they are often deterred by the cumbersome appointment process. She points out: “What is evident from these findings is that women are willing to apply and have a desire to play an active role in public life. However the process for appointment is still the biggest stumbling block for many.
“There has been a lot of focus over the past year on the need to appoint more women to boards, with evidence to suggest that it makes good business sense. We now need to create a support mechanism for those wishing to serve to enable them to navigate the process and get ready for the job in hand. Mentoring of women by those already serving on boards would undoubtedly encourage more women to apply for board roles,” Eileen added.
Pauline Quigley, Head of Vodafone Northern Ireland, said, “Today’s conference provided a great opportunity for female directors and business owners to be supported in their leadership roles and to recognise the value mentoring can add to any size of organisation. The conference has gone from strength to strength over the last five years and continues to be one of the most important events in the calendar of local business women”.
The Conference gave five aspiring broadcast journalists the opportunity to show case their talents. Students Grace Flynn, Sarah Hawell, Megan Hunter, Charlene Mooney and Mary Therese Toal from Belfast Metropolitan College filmed and produced a ten minute DVD to introduce the panel discussion that formed part of the Conference proceedings.
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