Better the Balance, better the world - International Women’s Day celebration
International Women’s Day Celebration, Thursday 7th March 2019
Speakers: Gayle Kerr, Carly Poyser, Hazel Brock, Joy Eldridge, Catherine Moore
The event started off in lively fashion with Gayle leading us in a quick yoga session which involved standing on one leg, raising and clasping the floating knee (for those of us that could!!) and then a further progression of closing your eyes while doing all of this. It instantly proved that balance is indeed different for everyone and set the scene for a series of great talks. Gayle’s themes then centred around living life with no regrets, and not being afraid of change. She also spoke about our ability to influence anyone if we are inspired enough by the topic ourselves.
Carly then took to the floor with a powerful story of work ethic and how setting out your stall early can manage expectations and create the balance you are looking for. She also had some interesting tales, both personal and professional, that highlighted the power of the phrase “what is meant for you won’t pass you by” and that when things are going well you should capitalise on them! Carly's story was also a lesson in change, she moved from the trading floor in the city to becoming a Doula and then running a rugby company – the key here is not to be afraid of change and moving on to new passions when you need to find a new balance.
Hazel's talk was a lesson in resilience, adaptability to change and an ability to learn continuously regardless of broader commitments. She had some amazing stories about her search for balance and the sacrifices she has made to enable others to find balance and happiness. There were also some salutary lessons in those stories about accepting support when it is offered and reaching out for it when it is not; we are often better at giving than receiving in this department! Her final note of advice was simply to take her own advice “don’t get too comfortable” and always challenge yourself.
Joy took to the floor and we soon found out she is aptly named, as she regaled us with hilarious tales from her travels and the muddles you can find yourself in when you don’t speak the native language! Like many of the other speakers she spoke of those that had influenced her, and both mother and grandmother again ranked top of that list. The most important thing they did was to instil belief in Joy that she could do/be anything she wanted, and she in turn pays this forward by instilling that belief in her teams and her children. So, her call is that we should all be role models and “normalise” women in diverse roles which wasn’t always the case during her upbringing and career. She also highlighted a very interesting point she learned during one of her not so fun roles – you can be unhappy and learn a lot! Joy also took us back to the theme of “no regrets” in this talk; trying to juggle work and family Joy has had to make a number of choices (because let’s face it you can’t have it all, all of the time) and the key for her was to make the best decision she could at the time and not regret it and not beat yourself up over it!
Catherine followed up this lively talk with a very thought-provoking talk that centred on knowing yourself and what you need in order to find your own balance. Given her diverse career there were some interesting insights into the cultures of different business/industries and how this can affect how you operate in them. The lesson really is to find out as much as you can about company culture and working practices before you join to figure out if it will be a fit for both parties. Catherine also spoke a lot about mental health and the importance of finding that balance between work/home life, and also allowing those around you to do the same and giving them the safe space to discuss their mental health. Allow them to reach out to you for help, but also allow yourself to reach out to others.
It was amazing that across five very diverse talks, full of amazing and heartfelt stories, that there were strong common threads around resilience, being a role model, not being afraid to ask for help and then paying it forward to help others. Another thing that struck me throughout the talks and the networking was our never-ending ability as women to put ourselves down, or simply to make less of our achievements. My final call in summing up this event was to ban the use of the phrases like “I’m just a” or “I haven’t really done anything remarkable worth speaking about” – these five women proved just how remarkable they are by being vulnerable and sharing their stories with us today in an effort to help us all learn how to balance for better!
Feedback from our host:
I found the APM’s International Woman’s day event incredibly powerful. The 5 speakers delivered their personal views on BetterforBalance in diverse, entertaining and inspirational ways. I have no doubt that everyone who was present will have taken away something thought provoking and positive from this well-run event.
European Production Director Bard Pharmaceuticals
APM Women in Project Management SIG Chair