Everywoman event – another inspiring day at IBM!

Hello all, sorry again…. I know it’s been a while, but have been super busy with my MLDP project, marketing events and social media around Wimbledon – oh and planning my wedding :). I also apologise for the length of this blog, and hope I don’t lose you half way through, but there was just so much interesting content from the event I went to that I wanted to include it all!

Last week I was fortunate enough to go to my first Everywoman event, it was a technology leadership academy and the theme was “Restless Reinvention” – if you want to see all the tweets from the day, just look up #techacademy and follow @everywomanuk.

The session was kicked off by the co-founders of Everywoman, Maxine Benson and Karen Gill , who welcomed everyone and took us through the agenda – it looked like we had a fantastic day ahead of us and were going to be able to hear from some very inspirational women.

The first item on the agenda was without doubt one of the most inspiring panel sessions I have ever had the pleasure to hear from. It was led by IBM’s VP of Marketing, Alison Orsi, who opened by talking a bit about the history of IBM, and how we have been restlessly reinventing for the last 100  years. She spoke about how IBM strives to lead with innovation that matters in this industry of disruptive technology, and that how new imperatives such as Cloud, Mobile and Social are changing the expectations of end users from a service & value point of view, therefore changing all our professions.  Alison then said her main motto is “believe in yourself & the opportunities will flow”, which I completely agree with, I have been trying this for the last 12 months, and as you know if you read my blog regularly many great things have been happening!

The panel then introduced themselves and gave a brief history of their careers to date & how they have all succeeded as women in Technology by reinventing themselves. The first to talk was Dr Sue Black who is the founder & CEO of Savvify. She has done some AMAZING things in her career and I highly urge you to follow her on Twitter to hear her opinions first hand. Alison asked her what her life motto was, to which Sue replied “if you want something just get on with it….we waste half our lives worrying about stuff”. 

Anne Marie Imafidon, Enterprise Collaboration Strategist at Deutsche Bank AND founder of Stemette, was next to give her views on how important it is for more women to succeed in Technology, and said her motto is “seek forgiveness not permission”.  

Alicia Navarro, CEO & Co-Founder of Skimlinks, was the third panellist to speak & her motto was also very memorable “if it was easy, EVERYONE would be doing it” – which is very true, & something I should definitely think about as the intensity on my MLDP project heats up!

The last panellist was Katrina Roberts, head of European Technologies at American Express, who spoke about how her dad had really encouraged her to get into IT – and he himself at 70 is a blogger!!  She said the key to her success was to love the job she is in, & finds it endlessly fascinating.  Her motto is “focus on what you are good at and put to the back of your mind those you aren’t good at”.

All these mottos got me thinking, what would my motto be? I know it would be something to do with Social Media – as that’s what I love more than anything, so maybe something like “social media shouldn’t scare you, it should make you shine”.

And the end of the panel there were some clear themes coming from these inspiring women:

  • All challenge the status quo
  • All reinvented themselves – it wasn’t that they knew exactly what they wanted to be from a very early age – it all evolved
  • All pushed themselves outside their comfort zones
  • Get mentors and mentor each other
  • All saw no limit to what they could achieve (or as someone once said to me, I have to “break the glass ceiling” – these women have clearly smashed the “glass ceiling”!)

We were then split into two groups and attended some masterclasses, the first one I went to was around “Transactional Analysis”, led by Pippa Isbell. She spoke about how we all have three ego states – Parent, Adult & Child, and that we move between these states as we interact with people. Leaders are able to work with and show all three of these states, but are clear on the boundaries.  To be leaders we need to understand all of these three states, & work effectively with them.  These states can be manifested in verbal, non-verbal & through tone of voice.

Here are a few pictures of the slides that explain more:




After lunch we were lucky enough to hear from Karen Steidle, the VP of Industry & Business Development for IBM UKI. She said we should “always be clear on your wish list”, and make sure you share it – execs are not mind readers & they don’t necessarily know where & what you want your next role to be. She also said how important culturally expanding experiences have been to her, which made me think about my MLDP course, and how that is really helping me understand different cultures by working with a global team. She also said it is important to take time off!!  Karen went on to say that the grass is not always greener on the other side, it’s only green where you water it, take care of your patch and you will grow a beautiful garden. She closed by saying no to get distracted by the side show, it’s empty calories… which takes time away from getting home to your family. Finally… her coping mechanism – just laugh!!!

What struck me about Karen’s session is that she even though she has taken chances/risks, she has also done it with her family in mind, and done what is in her heart (a word she repeated several times) – so want to keep this in mind in my career moving forward.

The penultimate session of the day was from Nick Moffatt CBE, who was the highest ranking female officer in the British Army, another very inspiring lady. We talked the attributes of a good leader, such as being authentic, listening, being confident, and being supportive. Nicky said the overarching idea was that a good leader needed a vision… if you don’t have a vision why would anyone follow you!  Nicky explained that she thinks to be a great leader you need to develop a depth and breadth of experience, make time for yourself and network!! She urged us to pick mentors who have done things similar to what we want to do, to have more than one, and to have mentors from different sectors/organisations. Most importantly, we need mentors would will speak up for us and promote us when we are not in the room.

This session made me reflect and think about if I have any of the attributes of a good leader, which ones I am good at, which I need to work on etc…and I think my MLDP course is helping me develop some of these skills but there is a long way to go!

The final session of the day was from Jennifer Holloway, and focussed on making the most of your brand – not your company brand but your OWN brand, and was incredibly funny as well as incredibly enlightening! Jennifer spoke about how business has changed, but we need to ask ourselves if we have changed with it? This means that PEOPLE BUY PEOPLE, and you never have a second chance to make a first impression. So you have to ask, if people are buying me, what are they buying?! What makes you different, what do you bring to the table?? However, Jennifer did console us by saying that not everyone will buy our brand… that’s fine.. as long as we are authentic in our brand, that’s all that matters.  Three important take home messages from Jennifer were:

  • Define Your Brand
  • Check Your Brand
  • Share Your Brand!! 

So overall you can tell I had a fantastic day, met some amazing women, and a lot of food for thought on how to restlessly reinvent myself! 

As usual, you can always following my daily musings on Twitter with @RSwindell – the debate over whether I  change this at the end of July to my name new continues!

In other news…
I had a lovely night in London last week as well, including dinner on South Bank (see selife!), but I am still wondering what the hotel towels were meant to be?





About beckyowen

I am a European Social Media Strategist at IBM. I love everything about Social Media, and like testing out new tools and techniques. I am also an on going Weight Watcher, but sadly LOVE all types of cheese and chocolate!
This entry was posted in Events, Leadership Development, Networking and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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