First Women Awards
Kicking off our March campaign Conversation Changers - which shines a spotlight on women who are helping to change the conversation
I've spent most of my working life in a male dominated environment. My focus has been on getting on with the job and doing whatever I've done to the best of my ability. However, I have always been aware that others would observe my career progression as a female engineer with interest, and maybe see me as something of a role model.
Like time, business waits for no man or woman, it will continue to exist regardless, but if we want it to thrive, grow, prosper and promote a 'feel good factor' for our country's citizens, as well as increasing our nation's fortunes then it's your job to create the environment that allows business leaders to do so.
They say it's lonely at the top, and while I wouldn't necessarily agree with this (true 'alone' time is something of a rare pleasure these days), working relationships certainly become a more complicated issue the more senior you become. Add being a female leader to the mix, and the line one has to tread between 'boss' and 'friend' to all can become more complex still.
Amongst the finalists for the LBG First Women Awards was Eleni Antoniadou, the scientist who developed an artificial trachea
There is a famous quote by Madeline Albright, the first woman to become the US Secretary of State - "There is a special place in hell for women who don't help other women." I am passionate about helping other women to succeed in the workplace as I have been lucky enough to be mentored by and exposed to some excellent female role models over the years.
Progress definitely also needs to be made in the healthcare sector. As I developed my company there were no women chairs or CEOs of large healthcare providers who I could look up to and seek inspiration from. Senior male healthcare managers have, quite literally, turned their back on me on a number of occasions. It is important that women entrepreneurs share their experiences and skills to benefit and support others.
A quick glance around the office tends to make me feel older than I am. Or that it's time for botox. That's because at Maxus, over 70% of our team are from the so-called Millennial generation. In fact, a whopping 70% our global workforce is now aged under 33.
When I set out on my engineering career I really did not consider myself to be a trailblazer or pioneer. But, upon reflection, I can see where I have faced challenges that no woman stepped into before me and I can see that in reaching down to the girls that are following me I have tried to ensure that they will not have to face the challenges that I did.
Mary Portas began as a shop window display designer, moved into fashion retail and then set up her own business to advise retailers. Her expertise is in building brands and buying and selling the goods and services that the British public most desire