I am incredibly passionate about the Women of the Future Awards. It was an honour to win the Mentor of the Year accolade last year, so I was thrilled to be invited back as a judge. It is fantastic that this week one of my colleagues from Asda, Helen Milford has won this years Mentor of the Year. It is brilliant that Asda are supporting the mentoring programme and influencing so many people to inspire and mentor others.
Led by the inspiring Pinky Lilani, the judging process allowed me to experience first hand the diverse breadth of female talent in business, from across the UK. And what a remarkable and inspirational group of shortlisted candidates there are this year, I was humbled, enthused and motivated by their achievements - these women are truly at the top of their professional game. It was fantastic to meet women who all recognise the importance of great female talent and giving other women the chance to strive in their organisations. It was great to compare notes and I thoroughly enjoyed this day.
I also am extremely thrilled to have been part of the panel judging Professional of the Year. Sarah Pierce was such a worthy winner. She is making such an impact on so many lives both within her career but also personally, with talent, energy, grace passion and a smile!
It is an interesting reflection that many women view networking as a slightly Machiavellian, thing to do. It is only relatively recently that I have realised what a key part to doing a great job it is. Let's change the name to relationship building or widening our contacts list and it changes the perspective. Mix with a group of successful, articulate business people and be prepared to listen and ask questions, and you learn new solutions to problems, broaden your own skills and help others in return.
The awards play a key role in helping to develop, showcase and celebrate the huge wealth of talented young women in business and to acknowledge the forward thinking businesses that recognise the importance of championing diversity within their teams. I was thrilled to see that the number of businesses nominating employees continues to grow each year. It really does put emphasis on the importance of organisations to embrace the empowerment of women in business and support the career development of the influential executives of the future.
The Women of the Future Awards are a fantastic forum to meet and build relationships with other like-minded, ambitious and passionate business people. On a personal level it has been great opportunities for me to continue to learn and develop myself, you only have to open your heart and mind - which I'm sure, is true for everyone who took part. Life is in 3 stages; learning, earning then giving. In my position it is incredibly rewarding to be able to pass forward the great advice I have received through my career and mentor other young women into finding their own paths to success.
I am currently involved in a Women in Leadership programme and I have actively encouraged the women I am mentoring to diarise time to have a lunch or a 30 minute chat with someone they haven't talked to before internally or externally to the business that will give them a different perspective our help them solve a challenge that faces them.
I look forward to hearing the outcome with baited breath!