Our first event was held in February 2016 and brought together a group of thirty young women in London, with insights and personal stories from:

  • Kath Dalmeny, Co-ordinator of Sustain
  • Julie Hill, Chair of WRAP
  • Sue Garrard, SVP, Unilever
  • Laura Sandys, former MP and co-founder of Powerful Women
  • Nina Skorupska, CEO of the Renewable Energy Association
  • Gillian Arnold, WISE (www.wisecampaign.org.uk)
  • Kate Rawles, outdoor philosopher and adventurer
  • Emma Pinchbeck, head of climate change and energy at WWF-UK
  • Gail Whiteman, director of the Pentland Centre at the University of Lancaster

We discussed, among other things, women’s experiences, styles and approaches to work; how women approach work and lives with or without children; and the pros and cons of different career paths. Through ‘open space’ sessions led by participants, we talked through the dilemmas and opportunities that each of us encounter in our walks of life. Over dinner, we were joined by Fiona Reynolds, who talked about the highs and lows of her career, including ten years at the helm of the National Trust.

How did it go?

Have a look at this lovely blog, from one of the participants, Emily, and this blog for Green Alliance by another participant Alys, on four lessons for women who want to change the world. Then there’s Soli’s Huffpost How to be a Heroine if you need a quick pep talk!

Here are just some of comments we got from participants in (anonymous) feedback:

  • I couldn’t imagine a more empowering, more honest group of women to talk to those of us in our early career and trying to find our place in sustainability. I also really enjoyed the open space/workshop type sessions. Having the chance to talk to others, just like me, who face similar challenges in their jobs was really encouraging and helped me understand that I am not alone out there!
  • For those two days I felt like I was part of a community, and I left feeling bigger and taller. Even though we talked about a lot of challenges, I felt empowered when I left. It really opened my eyes to the possibilities in my career.
  • I came away from the event feeling extremely inspired to do more, full of confidence and much more reassured about my career/ life in general.
  • I have often really struggled with confidence, especially with speaking in groups. The sessions taught me practical skills to combat my anxiety as well as gave me the confidence to acknowledge that event the most senior and successful and confident woman have their own struggles- and that is OK.
  • The session really helped me believe in myself and made me less stressed out/anxious/afraid about my future career decisions.
  • I think the key for me was how knowing your core values can make career decisions a little easier.

Many thanks to Unilever and Futerra for their support of the London event, and all the speakers who were so honest, and generous with their time.