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A Gift From My Baby Daughter: Finding Inspiration Amongst the Women of the Future

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My baby girl Antonia was born the week I was nominated for a Woman of the Future Award - a confluence of events which prompted me to think about what it means to be a woman of the future. What will her future be like? What will my future be like?

Watching her learn so fast every day is pure inspiration: it reminds me how fast we all can still learn, change, and adapt. In a challenging global and UK economy, our companies must be fast to learn and to change, and we as women leaders must also do the same.

Stylus, the company I helped set up, provides intelligence and reporting to consumer companies to give them ideas and inspirations for new products and services. I have been seeking equivalent sources of inspiration for businesswomen - sources for us to get new ideas about the ways we work and the ways we lead - and now I realise that those sources of inspiration are all around us.

Award programmes like the Women of the Future Awards in association with Shell provide one such source. They are more than just a list; they gather together a community of women, prompting discussion, dialogue, and debate, and that's where inspiration and new ideas and solutions can come from.

Part of my inspiration and drive to problem-solve also comes down to my particular job role: being a Chief Operating Officer means I constantly think about setting up structures and operations, allocating resources, and motivating employees to improve the company's future performance.

It's also in witnessing problems in everyday life that I find inspiration. In the last few weeks, I've watched two tricky employment situations arise amongst friends of mine - one, a cofounder in a business, being terminated unlawfully by the other cofounder; the other, a relative, applying for a new job while pregnant with unsuccessful results. Despite being on maternity leave, my mind is immediately bouncing with ideas and recommendations for how best to structure things to avoid these problems in the future.

And that is what being a woman of the future should always be about: finding inspiration all around us to solve problems. Forming plans for the future based on an ever-shifting landscape of the present. Every day I look at six-week-old Antonia and see her tackling her future problems from her own ever-shifting landscape of the present ('how do I grab that bottle when my blanket is covering my tiny hand?!'). If she can do it, we all can.

Elizabeth Deeming is a shortlister of the 2012 Women of The Future Awards.

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The awards ceremony will take place on Tuesday 20 November and is hosted by Real Business in association with Shell.