Leading Tunbridge Wells businesswomen inspire peers

The value of authentic relationships and enjoying the journey were key themes from speakers at Make It Your Business Tunbridge Wells on 19 January. As it stands, two million women are currently thinking of starting their own business and 25% say they are held back as they lack networking opportunities and confidence, making the stories and advice shared by our speaker and panellists invaluable. Here are our key takeaways from the event for any women who are making their way in the world of business.

Sold-out event for Tunbridge Wells businesswomen

Chaired by Sharp Minds Communications’ Managing Director, Siobhan Stirling, the latest Make It Your Business Tunbridge Wells sold out well in advance. Founded by Alison Cork MBE, the aim of Make It Your Business is to provide inspiration for female entrepreneurs and those thinking of setting up their own business.

Siobhan has been the Tunbridge Wells champion since 2019, and this was our ninth event, and the sixth that we have held at the vibrant Finance Hub on The Pantiles, thanks to ongoing support from founder Gillian Palmer.

Building a network who will support you

Our Keynote Speaker, Katie Keith, currently has a portfolio business career, as CEO of Currency UK, Executive Director at Global Chamber London and consulting and leading the B2B Partnerships division for Currencies Direct.

Katie Keith’s career journey certainly hasn’t followed a straight path, from starting out working in banking in Australia, to moving to the UK to change both her life and career. Katie credits her success to the people she has formed relationships with along the way, who have supported her as she transitioned between careers.

Katie’s mission is “to make the big world small, one relationship at a time”; she shared how this can be achieved: “It takes a village, lean on your authentic relationships and when you need to, ask for help and be persistent.”

She also highlighted the importance of finding and defining your purpose; her advice is to “always stay true to who you are and your brand: you can wear many hats but must be clear about your messaging so people can pin you down”.

Take the chance when you have it

Alison Hazell, who owns and runs the highly successful chocolate business Temper Temper has also had a wide-spanning career, ranging from setting up a nursery when she was 19 years old as she wanted to be able to spend time with her new-born daughter, to working for a black empowerment company in South Africa. Alison has successfully managed to seize business opportunities which have been thrown her way whilst simultaneously keeping family central to her life.

Alison strongly believes solidifying a “good reputation” for your brand can drive its success and she also noted the value in supporting your employees. Especially relevant to the event, Alison’s advice is “If you can give women the support they need, for example when they need to fit in childcare, you will get more out of them”.

The value in sharing your responsibilities

Tara De Linde and Angie Pool, Co-Directors of Atelier De Linde, an outstanding architecture practice based in Tunbridge Wells and Sevenoaks, were brought together through a chance encounter at a print shop. Both previously had long successful careers in their own rights, but having a business partner has allowed brought many benefits.

They shared how the business “thrives on the fact the two of us are different but hold the same qualities: drive, passion and ambition” and that, for them, successfully co-directing the company is “not about control, but about communication and collaboration and having each other means we have a safety net and someone to share the responsibilities of the business with, from its highs to its lows”. Angie was keen to hammer home that it works because they “always put kindness first and when a difficult decision has to be made we can talk it though and collectively make the decision for the greater good”.

Riding the waves

Claire Jarvis, Founder of Work in Harmony has had a varied career, rising from a secretary to ten years as  Director of Communications for Siemens Plc. She had a challenging midlife career pivot but has managed to come out the other side of it by sticking to her passion, which is working with people.

Over the course of her career, Claire shared that she has always ensured she “built good relationships with her peers” which were extremely valuable to her when she was in her most senior roles, and she also advocates for a “supportive leadership style”.

She shared how it is important to “stick with your gut feelings and learn about yourself so that you can achieve what you desire” as well as sharing some advice she was once given which helped her navigate career difficulties: “don’t get too attached on the outcomes, sometimes you just have to start, you can worry about where you’ll end up later”.

The key themes to emerge from the speakers were:

  • The value of building authentic working relationships
  • Learn what your passions are and build your career around them
  • Trust the process – the journey may have bumps along the way, but you can thrive despite them

The next Make It Your Business Tunbridge Wells will be on 14 June, 10.30am-12.30pm at The Finance Hub on The Pantiles. Tickets will be available through Eventbrite.

Based in Tunbridge Wells, Kent, Sharp Minds Communications offers brand development, digital marketing, offline marketing, and public relations to businesses across Kent, Sussex, Surrey, and Greater London.

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