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Women In Entrepreneurship

24 Nov 2015



It was slightly ironic that a day designed to celebrate the hard working female founders around the globe fell on the same day as International Men’s Day.


Even the strongest of men might have felt intimidated by the dynamic women around the table at our ‘Women in Entrepreneurship’ event held in partnership with MBM Commercial, but Sandy Kennedy CEO of Entrepreneurial Scotland is a man not easily phased and had been carefully selected for the role of chair.


The panel consisted of a mix of successful founders with a range of different backgrounds – Jackie Waring (CEO Investing women), Vicky Brock (CEO Clear Returns), Margaret Gibson (CEO Women in Enterprise), Michelle Lownie (founding Director of Eden Scott) and standing in for the poorly Co-Founder of TC Biopharm, Angela Scott, was her CEO and husband (well briefed and embracing his feminine side!) Mike Leek.



Although the backgrounds of our panel members was varied, the issues of working in and on your own business presented much common ground. The discussion was lively and covered a wide range of topics – from inspiring schoolgirls to aim higher, to breaking down barriers at board level for women – with active and empathetic participation from the audience.


Key themes of the evening revolved around the fact that running a business is hard work, male or female. Margaret Gibson commented ‘many people are in love with the word Entrepreneur but have no understanding how hard it is. You have to find something you love doing!’

‘The barriers that existed for women 20 years ago are still there’ commented Jackie Waring but she observed women are particularly adept at assessing risk and risk management and as such, from an investment perspective are actually a better bet for equity and debt investment, providing a higher return on investment.



Vicky Brock highlighted that being female was the core motivator for starting her particular business – Clear Returns is based on her understanding of women’s shopping habits. Her business frustrations came from being described as ‘emotional’. The panel all agreed that emotion is a good thing. It’s a driver and fuels the passion that a business founder has to have to keep going.


The panel all recognised the importance of mentors in providing encouragement and raising confidence to assist the achievement of goals. Michelle Lownie described the in-house mentoring scheme that she runs at Eden Scott and the importance of this in ensuring that the team are given the confidence and opportunities to be able to realise their ambitions.



TCBioPharm is a predominantly female led organisation and Mike Leek described the support that the senior team provide to allow staff to ‘have a life’ outside of work to ensure that they are able to balance family life with work. Parenting and or caring is important and leads to a happy and contented workforce, which aids talent retention.


The panel encouraged the audience to consider how we could all work together to unlock the economic impact that could result from stimulating more women to become entrepreneurs. Jackie Waring highlighted the two-day conference that she’s organising in 2016, with the AccelerateHER pitching competition for women founders.


Sandy Kennedy drew the evening to a close by urging us all to go out of our way to support others to create a flexible, supportive and trusting environment to help companies grow. TalentSpark aspires to assist company growth by sharing the stories of successful entrepreneurs, providing a platform for young companies to attract top talent and by leveraging our network to make the connections required to drive growth and realise potential.


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