I'm thrilled to have been shortlisted as an Entrepreneur for the Women of the Future Awards in association with Shell. It's so lovely to win awards, but even better to see yourself amongst some amazing contemporaries.
Female entrepreneurs and the support, guidance and role models available to such women is something close to my heart. I still think we try and compare men with women in the working world far too literally, which is a shame as well as being a business faux pas. We have different skill sets, we work in different ways and making the best of your team for your business is all about finding the best in people's skills and then utilising them.
Most of the women working for me are mums. If their child is poorly or if there's a nativity play on at school, I would be annoyed if they didn't leave the office to be with their kids. You can catch up on your iPad at home. It's about being flexible. The job still needs doing but there are many different ways to get from A to B. We need to embrace women in the workplace and (for those who are) see the fact that for the most part they're a mother, as a real positive. The women that work at Neom are great at multi-tasking. They are intuitive and can often balance creative thought with methodical detail really well. They are usually pretty good at looking at several ways around a problem. These are fantastic skills for a business.
People often say; "you can see there's a woman behind Neom". Although I work jointly with my co-director, Oliver Mennell, I think it's my femininity that makes it the 'lust after-able' brand we have become over the past seven years. I think I'm pretty good at getting the best out of people too, perhaps it's the mother in me (I have two little ones Charlie, four and Alexa, two).
It's amazing and crazy-hard running your own business, I have the working-mother guilt thing often and get aggravated with my husband when he doesn't buy birthday gifts or write thank you cards like every other working mother (sorry boys, but it's true!). Ultimately it's worth it though. Neom is growing at a rate of 55% year-on-year. We're in 16 countries now and the fastest growing launch in our sector at John Lewis. After a LOT of sweat and tears the dream is finally coming true, so thank you Real Business and the Women of the Future Awards for creating these awards and offering such a brilliant platform where successful women can be recognised (and thanks for putting me in the shortlist....I'm chuffed my name is even on a short list with Laura Trott!)
Nicola Elliot is a shortlister of the 2012 Women of The Future Awards.
The awards ceremony will take place on Tuesday 20 November and is hosted by Real Business in association with Shell.