Inspiring the Women of the Future, Today

31/10/2013 12:54 GMT | Updated 23/01/2014 23:58 GMT

During my days as a boarder at St Georges, Ascot, I always enjoyed the various speakers we had walk through our doors, from dedicated police women to pioneering entrepreneurial females who were always truly inspiring to listen to.

When I was recently asked to speak at the annual Women of the Future Ambassadors event, I immediately knew I had quite a task on my hands. Being told I'm a 'role model' is one thing but actually getting up and offering guidance to the young ladies of tomorrow is quite another.

As a radio presenter and DJ, jet setting around the world interviewing the likes of Rihanna and One Direction, my lifestyle may appear to be very glamorous but I wanted my speech to set the record straight and talk about what my job is really like.

In reality, I told to the room of 100 girls from schools around the country, my job is actually

highly pressured, extremely competitive and entails a lot of good old fashioned hard work.

I proceeded to dip slightly into my childhood and share stories of the hardworking,

somewhat traditional Sikh household I was born into, where my parents brought me and my siblings up in the UK simply so we could experience the best education the world had to offer.

My father had high expectations of his only daughter taking over his dental practice and excelling in that field in every way. My mother was the exact opposite and encouraged me to pursue my public speaking and passion for acting. She would literally sneak me out to practice and sit in the front row of every theater production, beaming with pride.

This clash of the titans, as I like to remember it, came to a head when it was clear that my skills and true talent lay in the performing arts, much to my father's disappointment.

It took me five years to get my break at Kiss FM. During that time, I worked at every radio station imaginable, making some of the best tea in the land, answering phones and even reading the travel reports. Once I finally did make it out of the Asian pigeon hole I had been trapped in for that whole period, I couldn't have been happier to breakthrough at my dream station.

Not only was I the only female presenter on the station to have my own solo daily radio show, I was the only female Asian presenter to break daytime commercial radio - something you would think my parents would have been equally proud of. My father however, was far from amused and even barked at his nurse one morning "Well she's got some job at LIPS FM, I mean it's not the BBC".

When I recounted this story at the Women of the Future ambassador event, the whole room erupted with laughter, perhaps the loudest person being Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, but I went on to say that in time my father's understanding, or shall we say acceptance, of my 'strange job' fortunately happened. And it is thanks to people like Pinky Lilani, founder of the Women of the Future Awards in association with Shell, that helped cement my mother's belief that I really did have something special to offer.


Neev Spencer at the Women of the Future Ambassadors event with Nick Clegg and Pinky Lilani OBE

Another highlight had to be Nick Clegg's speech. He's such an honest, down to earth speaker with a real sense of care and understanding of his audience. My heart jumped with pride when he mentioned my speech not once but twice, something I hurriedly relayed to my father in a phone call as I left the mighty Bloomberg offices, that and the fact that when I was asked who my role models were, I had to simply state my parents.

My final sentiments in my speech touched on patience and how realising your dreams can take time, true dedication and a great deal of passion. We live in a very demanding culture and people expect things to happen exactly when they want and this is something that effects the younger generations of today - particularly the overnight celebrity status where materialistic things are more important than gratitude and self-worth.

The ambassadors evening itself was full of highlights and meeting so many of the eloquent, polite and inquisitive young women at the networking session after my speech was so rewarding. Knowing that so many of them experience similar struggles, such as parental support, really cemented how important being a mentor, for even just a few hours, is.

I'm now looking forward to the next challenge of numerous school trips to offer continued support as part of my ambassadorship.

Neev Spencer is shortlisted for the 2013 Women of the Future Awards.

For further information click here.

The awards ceremony will take place on Wednesday 13 November and is hosted by Real Business in association with Shell.