2015 Women in Leadership Finalists

Emma Powell, Zipporah Ltd with Rachel Clacher, Moneypenny

Women in Leadership sponsored by Moneypenny

The shortlistclick on a name to read their personal “Leadership Story”

Dr Jennifer Hartley – Founder & Director, Theatre versus Oppression
Karen Hutchings – Managing Director, Goose Island
Emma Powell – Director, Zipporah Ltd (winner)
Jayne Smith – Director, CIOTEK


Dr Jennifer Hartley

Founder & Director, Theatre versus Oppression

How has your life experience made you the leader you are today?

Initial theatre in education work took me to South America where I also spent time as a volunteer counsellor for torture victims. Working in this area I realised you can hear stories of pain, suffering and unbelievable strength, then walk away choosing to never think about it again, or you can decide this is something that should mark your life, something you should not be able to ignore. So began a journey that led to the founding of TVO, based on the belief that everyone has a story to tell and everyone has the right to be heard.

What have been the main highlights and challenges since taking up your leadership role with TVO?

My work in Applied Theatre is with a strand largely dominated by males, and working in difficult situations where I‘m often the only female surrounded by males both in the client-base and the teams I work with. I face challenges from people’s perception of what I do and their judgements of many I work with. Personally the highlight has been to see how people have grown and developed through the work, to see many of those I’ve worked with go on to become mentors and indeed trainers themselves and to see people who believed their futures were hopeless find hope.

What have been the most helpful things you have learnt from these highlights and challenges?

I have learned not to give up or give in to societal pressures of what I should be or do; not to allow others to set limitations for others and myself; and to value the fact that we all have stories of worth that should be told.

What do you think is the biggest issue facing leaders in Wales in 2015?

Funding for projects with constant cuts in the voluntary sector and support for work that does not slot into clear boxes providing expected and easily quantifiable outcomes, especially when it deals with issues not considered priorities by those holding the purse strings.

Which other leaders in Wales do you admire and why?

I admire the ‘ordinary’ leaders – such as Sherrall who is wheelchair-bound and insists no allowances be made for her disability, Aisha who survived drug addiction and domestic abuse. Ordinary people going about their lives facing daily challenges, showing others by example that they can overcome those challenges, natural leaders.

What is one word that sums up leadership for you?
Trust

Jennifer has been a high school teacher, coordinator, university lecturer and education manager. She is the founder  and director of Theatre  versus Oppression and developed it into a leading Applied Theatre charity that works on projects nationally and internationally. She trains others around the world but is based in Wales where much of the training takes place and where she also works with Aberystwyth University to develop their Applied Theatre programme. Hartley designs, runs and trains others to participate in projects dealing with sensitive and challenging issues.

 


Karen Hutchings

Managing Director, Goose Island

How has your life experience made you the leader you are today?

I believe that you never stop learning and the most successful leaders recognise this.  We had a blip in our businesses at the height of the recession with some big clients going under which resulted in having to make many staff redundant.  This was a difficult time as our staff has always been extremely loyal.  However this experience taught me that I needed to ‘toughen up’ in order to bring the business back to where it was.  It was a hard lesson but one that has helped me to understand what I needed to do to lead my team effectively.

What have been the main highlights and challenges since taking up your leadership role with Goose Island?

I started Goose Island with little experience or money, buying clothes from Bali and selling to friends and family.  Today I employ over 20 staff across our 3 shops, warehouse and head office.

In 2009 I was responsible for launching the Goose Island into the wholesale jewellery market. Six years later we have switched exclusively to ladies fashions and have over 400 stockists throughout the UK plus 4 online sales platforms.

Our turnover at the end of 2014 was just under £1,000,000 and we anticipate achieving a turnover in excess of £1,200,000 in 2015.

What have been the most helpful things you have learnt from these highlights and challenges?

Don’t be afraid to change your business model and move into new markets.  Though I started our wholesale business selling jewellery, today we are an established and recognised quality wholesaler and retailer of ladies fashions.   The company would not have achieved the same levels of growth and profitability if I’d stuck to jewellery and the retail market alone.

What do you think is the biggest issue facing leaders in Wales in 2015?

Uncertainty in the economic and political climate in Wales.  As a business owner, it is always unsettling in times ahead of an election when the political parties seem to bicker among themselves rather than focussing on what is genuinely best for the country.

Which other leaders in Wales do you admire and why?

Rob Stewart, the new Leader of Swansea City Council as he’s promising to make some real positive changes to our city and so far is delivering on these promises.  I was fortunate to have a personal interview with Rob earlier this year and his vision is truly inspiring.

What is one word that sums up leadership for you?

Flexibility

Karen is the Director of Goose Island, leading the company and its staff. She is leading a business that has its own shops, supplies to 400 stockists across and UK and sells on line. The main focus is Ladies Fashion and Goose Island mostly works with designers and suppliers from Italy.


Emma Powell

Director, Zipporah

How has your life experience made you the leader you are today?

I started Zipporah 11 years ago after leaving a company where I felt overlooked and undervalued; jobs for the boys was very much the norm.  The clients I worked with then always appreciated my skills and professionalism and this along with my ‘can do’ attitude gave me the confidence to start my own company.  I was determined to make a success of Zipporah proving to myself and others that women and IT do mix.  I now strive to encourage my team to always do their best, always listen to their opinions and to be open minded on all matters.

What have been the main highlights and challenges since taking up your leadership role with Zipporah?

Zipporah supplies its solutions to almost 80 local authority and central government clients, and every time we’ve brought on board one of these clients it’s been a big highlight. Winning the first international client was a huge success as well. We’re now supplying to 7 local authorities across Australia and New Zealand and a central government client in Europe.

The scale and complexities of the client base make them a challenge to support and keep happy.  I try to ensure that the team always provide a professional and quality service as a good reputation within these markets is vital.

What have been the most helpful things you have learnt from these highlights and challenges?

Clients, like individuals, have different needs, skills and expectations – and so adapting to each one is key to building and maintaining good working relationships. I constantly remind my team that as well as our product being flexible and adaptable, our service and customer care needs to be the same.

What do you think is the biggest issue facing leaders in Wales in 2015?

As an expanding company, I have needed advice and information but have found it difficult and time consuming to know where and who to approach.  More visibility of the help and assistance that is available to companies would reduce some of the burden facing leaders in Wales today.

Which other leaders in Wales do you admire and why?

Laura Tenison, founder of Jojo Maman Bebe is a particular inspiration to me. Laura possesses a clear vision for her business, applies herself to hard work and looks to combine a quality product with a professional service – all things which I strive towards in my leadership of Zipporah.

What is one word that sums up leadership for you?

Vision

Emma’s role as Managing Director gives her responsibility for managing the day to operations of the company, setting and monitoring of strategic and financial targets and delivery of its vision to become a leading supplier in the IT software market.


Jayne Ann Smith

Director, CIOTEK Ltd

How has your life experience made you the leader you are today?

My early work experience, commitment to education and willingness to continually learn from those around me stands me in good stead for demonstrating strong leadership.  I recognise how well respected good listeners are, therefore have strived to always absorb information and consider my approach in responding to various situations appropriately.  I have always been conscious of the dynamics of interactions, in various situations at different times and have learned that in order to lead, develop and drive those upon whom you have influence; you need to understand learning styles, motivations and desires.  This is how I’ve developed my leadership capabilities.

What have been the main highlights and challenges since taking up your leadership role with CIOTEK?

The main highlights have been obtaining a contract to deliver business support via the Welsh Government at the age of 23, as well as being one of their youngest Workforce Development Advisors – working with established, reputable organisations that respect my opinion, take my advice and are keen to continue working with me beyond the funded time.  Being nominated as one of the UK’s top 2 Business Advisors by SFEDI in 2010 and in the Enterprise Nation Top 50 Business Advisors in 2015 are also exceptional achievements for me in my role.

What have been the most helpful things you have learnt from these highlights and challenges?

Never to give up… and realise I am good enough.  Also don’t be afraid to share the benefits of your achievements.  I have obtained recognition for my consultancy services, and actively encourage my students/clients to strive for success through sharing my knowledge, skills and networks.

What do you think is the biggest issue facing leaders in Wales in 2015?

Understanding and applying resources to demonstrate good Leadership.  People feel that leaders are born and cannot be “trained”.  Good leadership can drive organisational development and importance should be placed on acquiring the right skills.  The more we invest – the better we will become and greater economic benefit we will achieve.

Which other leaders in Wales do you admire and why?

Professor Hilary Lappin-Scott.  Committed to educating, supporting and driving student experiences to better their future prospects via the Student Employability Academy.  Recognising that students need to be armed with more than a qualification to secure a strong, prosperous future.  Inspirational in her approach – I have the utmost respect for Hilary.

What is one word that sums up leadership for you?

Inspiration

Jayne Smith has been Director of CIOTEK Ltd for 10 years and developed this Management Consultancy business to a team of 6 employees and 6 additional associates.  She also lectures on a part time basis for UWTSD and runs her own event management business spark-dating.co.uk.  She is a Big Ideas Wales Role Model for the Welsh Government and was recently voted one of the UKs top 50 business advisors.

Disclaimer: All details included in these leadership stories have been provided by the finalists themselves.  All information has been accepted in good faith.  Any references to individuals or circumstances have been relayed in the finalist’s own words and have not been verified by the Leading Wales Awards Directors or its Consortium.  Any views expressed are those of the individuals concerned and are not necessarily the views of the Leading Wales Awards Directors or Consortium members.



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