Diversity, inclusion, Black British history and leveling the playing field for all, whilst still rem see more
CWN Newsletter October 2020:
Diversity, inclusion, Black British history and leveling the playing field for all, whilst still remaining agile with our working practices.
2020 seems to have become the most eventful year for many, regardless of age. We have all been impacted following the global pandemic; making much more aware of the things that really matter to us.
October is Black History month, a time where the culture and history of various groups that make up Black communities in the UK is celebrated. This year has been important to the ongoing conversation centred around the BAME community, where feelings of exclusion have come to the forefront. Black History month is no longer just a time for celebration, but also of education and perhaps even action, whether on a personal or organisational level.
We have been working closely with one of our corporate partners ANZ during September, and we hope you have enjoyed seeing and hearing their videos across our social media channels. They have been very open in discussing their views on diversity and inclusion in the workplace. Thank you to our new intern Elise Grace for her work in pulling all of this together.
Our Autumn newsletter will cover:
Yvette Forrester of BNY Mellon shares with us the need to educate ourselves so we truly get to grips with the unequal and inequities that Covid has shown and level the playing field for all;
What has changed in the UK since the BLM protests this year?
Insightful books written by Black British authors, some of which come highly recommended by our members;
Wellbeing of Women’s (WoW)urge to support women’s mental health during and after pregnancy and
An array of online events devised to offer you support, guidance and knowledge as a valued member.
Articles in this issue:
- Diversify your reading: What to read to engage with Black British history and culture.
- How has the pandemic shaped us today?
- Wellbeing of Women on Emotional Health
Did you know up to 1 in 5 women experience mental health problems during pregnancy or post-partum? see more
Wellbeing of Women on Emotional Health
by Adriana Tatcheva, Marketing Manager
In light of Mental Health Awareness Week during October, we would like to share important insights from our charity partners, Wellbeing of Women, who have spoken to Perinatal psychiatrist, Dr Roch Cantwell, about the importance of mental health before and after pregnancy.
Up to 1 in 5 women experience mental health problems during pregnancy or post-partum, with depression and anxiety being the most common.
What is Perinatal psychiatry?
Perinatal psychiatry is treating mental illness in women who are pregnant, or who have had babies in the past year.
For a number of women, this can be a riskier time for developing mental illness– and, for some women who’ve already had mental health problems, having a baby and being pregnant can sometimes be an extra challenge. That is why services dedicated to helping women, their infants and families exist.
Why is it important that we talk about maternal mental health?
Some women are afraid to come forward, they feel like they should cope on their own or that people are going to judge them as a mother if they ask for help.
Recognising that you need a bit of help is a really normal and healthy thing. It’s important to de-stigmatise mental health and to say “actually, lots of people have this problem – it’s okay for me to say I have it too”.
Why is maternal mental health particularly important right now?
Becoming a new mother or father is one of the most exciting, but also potentially challenging, times of your lives. We really want to have family around but during the pandemic, we’re that bit more distanced from each other.
Even if you can’t have somebody physically in the room with you, stay in touch with people and don’t allow yourself to get isolated.
Draw on support from family and professionals and ask for help.
Wellbeing of Women Project: Preparing women for induced labour
For a variety of reasons, healthcare professionals are offering induction of labour to a greater number of women and, at the moment, 30-40% of labours are induced.
Induction can, however, affect a woman’s birth preferences, which can have a negative impact on the mother’s mental health if she doesn’t feel prepared.
This is why Wellbeing of Women Research Midwife, Sam Nightingale, is developing a video to help women prepare for induction of labour.
By improving women’s understanding of induced labour and addressing their needs, this study aims to improve the experience for women and their families as well as their mental health afterwards. Find out more about Sam’s project here
Fertility: 'Conceivable' with author Jheni Osman and Dr Ed Coats - Wednesday 7 October – 1-2pm
Prepare for your fertility journey with this expert dive into the technical and emotional aspects of IVF. Journalist and presenter, Jheni Osman and obstetrician, gynaecologist and fertility specialist, Dr Ed Coats, will discuss IVF in detail and answer your questions during a live Q&A.
Quite. Claudia Winkleman in conversation with her mother Eve Pollard OBE -Wednesday 14 October – 1-2pm
Join the nation’s favourite TV presenter and journalist Claudia Winkleman to celebrate the launch of her debut book 'Quite'. Claudia will talk to her mother, Wellbeing of Women Vice Chair, Eve Pollard OBE, about her thoughts on friendship, the power of art, the highs and lows of parenting and the secret of creating her trademark smoky eye.
Thank you to Laura Neale and Alice Sholl from the charity for their help in collating this article and to Adriana Tatcheva for the write up.
Have you read literature by Black British authors that gave you insight into Black British history? see more
Diversify your reading: What to read to engage with Black British history and culture.
Preeti Bonthron. Marketing Manager
As an Indian born a few decades after the British left India, my upbringing was flavoured with the remains of the Raj. While I, like most of my generation, learned about colonialism, it was through the lens of how colonialism shaped modern India. The Black history that I was taught focused on the overwhelming effect of the transatlantic slave trade and the Civil Rights movement on America.
Black history in the UK is different.
It goes back much farther. The Ivory Bangle Lady is evidence of Black people’s presence in Britain under Roman occupation as early as the second half of the fourth century. Since then there have been many other migrants that left their mark on history, from commoners like King Henry VIII’s Black trumpeter to Queen Charlotte who was the great grandmother of Queen Victoria and is purported to have Black ancestry.
Slave trade is a part of Britain’s history but by 1808 legislation was passed to abolish it, slowly changing Britain’s role from participant to watchdog, albeit an imperfect one. In subsequent years, the colonisation of Africa, Asia and the Americas meant that portions of culture from Britain’s various colonies were brought back to merge with British culture in the UK.
Modern British Black history contains the stories of Jamaicans who came over to fight in WW1, people from the Caribbean and Africa who were brought over for WW2, the Windrush generation following WW2 and continued migration as young people began to explore opportunities in the UK for education and work.
In order to fully understand British Black history and culture, one needs to consider the broader nuances by separating it from the transatlantic slave trade, because while that played its part, British Black history is so much richer.
History can be understood through literature. Whether it is modern day novels or essays written several hundred years ago, a book is a brilliant means of grappling with the issues of the time through the lens of someone who engaged with them either firsthand or through collective experience.
We asked some CWN members about their experience with literature either written by British authors or about Black British history that gave them insights into or changed their perspectives around this.
“I’ve read two books that have influenced my view on Black history recently and those are Why I’m no longer talking to white people about race by Reni Addo Lodge and White Fragility – Why it’s so hard for white people to talk about racism by Robin Diangelo. Reni’s book does give a really interesting and disturbing insight into Britain’s role in facilitating slavery and Robin’s book is more US focused. Both are excellent but I think what has had the biggest impact on me is the Netflix film 13th where filmmaker Ava DuVernay exposes the history of racial inequality in the US using the 13th amendment as the basis. I found it jaw dropping and I was horrified about how little I had truly understood systemic racism despite considering myself anti-racist.” Geraldine Gallacher, The Executive Coaching Consultancy Ltd.
“Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race by Renni Eddo-Lodge and White Fragility by Robin Diangelo are two great books, both of which have had an impact on me this year and have helped me frame discussions when speaking about race. They discuss Black history, racism and the concept of white privilege and provide a real insight into why conversations around racism are often sensitive and uncomfortable for both Black and white people. Some of the chapters are enlightening and educational in explaining the different perspectives. In addition to discussing what needs to happen to bring about positive change. A great read for anyone who wants to learn more and is serious about addressing racism and discrimination." Catherine Wade, HR Interim/Business Coach.
The tone of the room in recent months has been quite academic, with people learning more about the issues surrounding race, diversity, inclusion, privilege culture and how these discussions play into our day to day.
For a more lighthearted take on these heavy subjects, there are some wonderful novels written by Black British authors, all uniquely flavoured by their various heritages.
We’re in the last quarter of the year, and while there may not be much time to dismantle your ever growing tsundoku, we’d still like to encourage you to read something written by a Black British female author.
If you’re looking for recommendations, here is a selection that’s on our lists too.
Don’t touch my hair by Emma Dabiri
I will not be erased by gal-dem
Girl, Woman, Other by Bernadine Evaristo
The Book of Echoes by Rosanna Amaka
White Teeth by Zadie Smith
Black Mamba Boy by Nadifa Mohammed
Nudibranch by Irenosen Okojie
Happiness by Aminata Forna
Is there a book written by a Black British author or on Black British history that you’ve particularly enjoyed?
How do businesses remain agile and thrive? see more
How has the pandemic shaped us today? by Yvette Forrester
Vice President, BNY Mellon | Diversity champion | Charity Trustee | Mentor | CWN Board member.
How has the pandemic shaped us today?
In December last year there was a last minute scramble for my eldest to complete his personal statement for university. He did it in his lastminute.com style and his future was mapped. Well at least that’s what we thought. Although we are in the midst of preparing for him to go to University and his brother just starting Year 11, for both there will be a sense of promise, new beginnings and I suspect dread.
They are both entering new phases in their lives with the Covid cloud hovering. future marred by a pandemic is never easy to reconcile – this is new for so many and in a way I am glad they are sheltering in education. The level of resilience to navigate this new normal will have to be extraordinary. We’ve had to flex with this stop/start way of living moving in an agile way most of us have never experienced.
Lockdown, with its benefits of getting to spend time at home. The eerie and quiet stillness of spring and the horror as Covid took hold of so many around the world. For some this opened the door to mental health challenges, unspeakable domestic violence and overwhelming strain with our medical saviours.
Several friends and acquaintances told me of the Covid deaths they had the misfortune to experience and in the early days it did appear that Covid did not discriminate. However, data has shown that our Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic family, friends and colleagues had their lives and anxieties blighted by the disproportionate amount of deaths experienced.
Then the social movement took hold, launched by some gruesome deaths at the hands of the police, racists and those who could use the colour of their skin in a privileged way to harm others.
With the outpouring of scorn and the show of support from many for those suffering at the hands of Covid and social injustice we are seeing a new dawn.
Months on, we see the City landscape changing as more people work from home and less coffee and sandwich shops are visited. This downturn in activity has heralded the start of an economic decline for all to see whether in retail, financial services or aviation industries. As well as to be expected, employment is now going through a contraction as companies look to stem the outflow of cash and manage for an uncertain future. But still we must remain agile.
It appears there are very few winners in this new normal but there are steps we can take to ensure we get through this:
We all need to educate ourselves so that we are vigilant when it comes to the tentacles of Covid.
We need to educate ourselves so we truly get to grips with the unequal and inequities that Covid has shown and level the playing field.
We must not underestimate the many forms Covid still takes whether it is affecting those near to us or be it one of the over 42,369 (according to the government's data) whose lives have not been spared.
Where we need to speak up in the face of any form of racism – explicit or covert – we must all speak up and speak out against this.
We have to be agents of change whether it is in our behaviours with the wearing of masks or confronting our biases and how this can affect others.
We have to have a generosity of spirit and kindness in a time where we can help those less fortunate than ourselves.
As I have been saying to my boys, we need to flex, adjust, adapt and be kind. This is our time and this is our new normal.
News from our Charity Partner Wellbeing of Women see more
News from our Charity Partner Wellbeing of Women
In these uncertain times, it’s as important as ever to safeguard the future of women, girls and babies everywhere. As many of our clinical researchers are called to support the NHS front line response to COVID-19, we are working hard to make sure they can return to their research as soon as possible
We are extremely proud to be funding some of the best and brightest doctors and clinicians in women’s health and, whilst they help the fight against this pandemic, we will continue to raise awareness of their incredible work. For example, Dr Varsha Jain, who is researching causes of heavy menstrual bleeding that affects 1 in 4 women. Varsha’s research will be on hold whilst she works on the NHS front line and we are working hard to ensure her work and that of our other researchers can continue when this pandemic is over.
There are many ways you can support us from your home – here’s just a few ideas:
- Run a quiz with friends – full of fun facts on women’s health – download questions and answers here.
- Organise that big clear out you’ve been meaning to do for years and donate proceeds. – Virgin Money Giving & Ziffit can help with logistics.
- Sign up to a virtual race – like the Local Landmarks challenge or Running Woman – and fundraise online here.
- Support Wellbeing of Women by doing your everyday shopping via this link
Article on Uma Cresswell, CWN President sharing her story and tips on overcoming career challenges. see more
CWN Board and Member Profile: President, City Women Network
Following the news that Uma Cresswell has officially been appointed President of City Women Network, we took the opportunity to catch up with her so we could share with you Uma’s personal journey, career path and her vision for the foreseeable future (in a constantly changing world). So, we set up a zoom call and went from there.
Congratulations on becoming President of CWN…so, where did it all start?
For me, it all began back in 1972 when my parents had to leave Uganda and we arrived in the UK. I owe everything to the sacrifices they made and I’m grateful every day for the opportunities I’ve had.
Your ‘day’ job outside CWN is in HR – what attracted you to that career?
I started my career working on local radio (more on that later). As a broadcast journalist, I interviewed some fascinating and high-profile people. My highlight was interviewing Imran Khan and Kapil Dev (at the time captains of their respective national cricket teams, Pakistan and India). I was captivated by the richness of the people I met, which led to pursuing a career in HR after moving to London. Working in IT recruitment and meeting a wide range of people, reinforced that I was valued for my contribution rather than being judged for how I looked. I built on my recruitment experience to move into various HR roles in different industries including retail banking, telecoms, investment banking and consulting.
Which achievement are you most proud of in your professional life?
I’m proud of several achievements but the ones that spring to mind are from when I worked at ANZ. Diversity and Inclusion was a key priority in their culture which meant that my actions could really make a difference. Also, markets outside of Europe such as Asia and India were major contributors to their financial success, so I worked with a broad range of talented people. I even incorporated a revenue generating aspect to my HR role; I worked with the Institutional business to set up a reception for key clients and prospects of Indian Banks to celebrate Diwali. The feedback was incredibly positive with attendees commenting that it showed ANZ understood the Indian culture and reinforced their position as a bank that their community wanted to do business with.
What led you to setting up your own business?
In the latter part of my career at ANZ, I was in a senior global HR role achieving many goals I had set for myself. I was able to influence senior leaders and key stakeholders and saw it part of my raison-d’être to leverage my position by advocating talent that would benefit from a helping hand especially working mums, women from an ethnic minority and many other aspirational career women.
I was also part of a high potential mentoring programme (which a previous CWN president Brenda Trenowden was involved with – more on that later). This ignited my desire to become a mentor and coach and to focus on the aspects of HR that are ‘value add’ and that I really enjoyed and excelled at such as, influencing senior leaders and creating inclusive cultures supported with the appropriate conduct and behavioural frameworks. Setting up Paradigm HR Limited was the culmination of that ambition.
What is your top tip for staying positive when women experience a challenging work environment?
I have experienced first-hand some very tough times, cut-throat cultures and appalling behaviours which sometimes dented my confidence and self-belief. At one point I worked in a culture where you couldn’t be your true self or talk about your personal life. This was a particularly difficult time for me as my father was terminally ill and subsequently passed away which left me very disillusioned in my role and not sure what to do next.
Having said that, I have always got through these times by relying on my incredible network of friends and colleagues:
- talking to people helps you realise that you don’t have to figure it out all yourself and you feel less isolated.
- having a variety of people across diverse cultures and at different levels (and not just those in senior roles) gives you a broader perspective. If you have a varied network, someone is bound to have gone through something similar - often just having validation about what is happening can make you feel more positive.
- asking for help from both your professional and personal network; the former will remind you of your achievements and capabilities and the latter will support you and be there for you. Also, being proactive and talking to a professional can really make a difference and help you with your mental wellbeing.
How did you hear about CWN?
As I mentioned earlier, I worked with Brenda Trenowden when I was in a Global Head of HR role at ANZ. At the time, Brenda was the President of CWN, and I worked with her to set up ANZ’s corporate membership as we were keen to partner with a network that was cross sector and cross industry.
After leaving ANZ, I continued my individual membership and met the CWN President at that time, Sandy Lucas. Sandy was instrumental in encouraging me to join the Board and I am very grateful to her for believing in me
It was an exciting time as Sandy had great ambitions for CWN, in particular, succession planning of the network and building a pipeline of more diverse role models on the Board. I led various projects including the selection of Haven House (our previous charity partner) before stepping into the role of Vice President. I saw this opportunity as being the right time, having the right platform, and with the right support from my fellow Board Members to bring that inclusive ambition to life that Sandy had initiated and wanted to fulfil.
Now that I am President, I want to ensure that we create the right conditions, behaviours and environment for all our membership. A place where our members feel they belong and a network that is led by a diverse and inclusive Board.
Inclusion and belonging are extremely important to you, what drives that passion?
Growing up as a child in the Midlands during the 1970s wasn’t easy and I didn’t feel that I fitted in as I was split between two cultures (and bullied because of the colour of my skin). However, that all changed when I left school and worked at BBC Radio Leicester which was the first and only Asian community radio station in the UK at that time. Not only was I working with people that looked like me, (so I felt like I ‘belonged’), but they trusted me to deliver a great job. My confidence took a massive leap as a broadcast journalist.
Having grown up feeling like an outsider and then experiencing that I could truly belong means I have seen first-hand the positive difference creating inclusive environments can have on an individual’s wellbeing and an organisation’s success.
What do you put your success down to?
Without a doubt my work ethic has driven me to where I am today. Seeing how hard my parents worked really instilled the importance of hard graft. We grew up with my grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins all living in the same house with heating in only one room (and an outside loo!) which made me determined to achieve as much as possible. It was also drummed into me that as an immigrant I would have to work tirelessly and continuously to prove myself.
Also being open to opportunities, seeing where they will take me and not listening to that doubting voice. If you’re hesitant about a new role or project, ask yourself what’s the worst that can happen? Remember you can always ask for help.
Which leads me to mentors and sponsors. They have been critical throughout my career and I am grateful to the support from the many senior men and women who have believed in me.
What’s your favourite food?
In true culturally integrated style, I have two firm favourites: egg and chips and a wholesome vegetarian biryani (like my grandmother used to make).
What’s your hidden talent?
I can sing!
What’s your favourite holiday destination?
It has to be Rishikesh in India – a beautiful, peaceful and spiritual place on the banks of the river Ganges and where we scattered both of my parent’s ashes.
What’s your guilty pleasure?
A huge batch of salted, buttery popcorn – not for sharing!
CWN shares the highs & lows of the pandemic, insights from Amy Davies and upcoming events see more
CWN News Summer 2020: pandemic perspectives, member spotlight and future events
Since our last newsletter, we have all had to find different ways to navigate our professional and personal lives during the lockdown period and the subsequent relaxation of some restrictions. Many of us will have faced hardships as well as positive moments. Movements have been created, such as Black Lives Matter or some organisations, such as the PRIDE, have continued to build momentum despite not being able to hold their annual celebrations. What they have in common is that they all remind us of the importance of equality and inclusivity, which is at the heart of CWN’s purpose. With that in mind, we have asked a few members to share their professional and personal perspectives on COVID-19. We also continue our focus on members with our regular ‘spotlight on’ feature. In this issue, Amy Davies shares how she started the second phase of her successful career by securing a VP role at Autonomous after a 15-year employment sabbatical.
Hopefully you will have seen and experienced our fresh approach to helping our members to connect and learn, by moving all of our events onto an online platform – we have received wonderful feedback around the quality and variety of events to date. Thank you to everyone who has made this possible so quickly and seamlessly. Do remember that we have created an ‘Online Academy’ so you can watch these events at your convenience simply by logging in with your username and password. We’ve also included a list of events in the diary from September onwards. As always, there is a wide range of topics and speakers to look forward to.
We are looking forward to when we can all meet in person again, particularly our new members who have joined the network over the past few months. Some of those have joined following the change in our membership criteria to include professionals with ten years’ experience. This change means that we are now able to support the development and advancement of aspirational females to help them achieve their goals. If you have anyone in your network that would benefit from joining CWN, then please do share with them details on how they can get involved.
We were hoping to be able to hold our annual summer drinks event in central London as our social events are an important date in the calendar for us all to connect and catch up. Unfortunately, large gatherings of more than 30 people are still prohibited so instead, we were delighted that Lucy Crowe was the highlight of our summer soiree event on the 15 July. It was a wonderful way for us to relax with beautiful music to soothe us into summer. It rounded up a fantastic array of online events that has resulted in charitable donations in excess of £8,000 for our charity partner, Wellbeing of Women. They have asked us to extend their thanks to everyone for supporting them during a very challenging few months and we have included an update on their progress.
In the meantime, whatever your circumstances may be, we hope each of you manages to take some time out of your usual routine and to find time to relax over the summer.
Articles in this issue:
Next Events see more
As we approach the summer period, City Women Network will take a well-earned break and we will recommence our thought-provoking webinars and online events program in September. Why not catch up on any events you may have missed by accessing recordings of prior events available through our online academy.
Our first event after the summer break is on the 9 September, 12:30 - 1:30pm BST: Banishing Burnout Webinar
Did you know that 96% of leaders experience some degree of burnout? Applied Positive Psychology researcher and CWN member Charlotte Wiseman will share her pioneering research into CEO burnout and leadership wellbeing.
23 September, 12.00 - 2.00pm BST: RADA Masterclass: Creativity during Uncertainty Workshop
Our speaker Kate Walker Miles (trained at RADA and has a degree in Experimental Psychology from Oxford University) takes us through a series of fun, fast paced, high-energy games and exercises where delegates will be shown how to take risks, let go of fear and enter into a creative frame when working with colleagues.
13 October, 12:30 - 1:30pm BST: Cultivating Positive Mental Health Webinar
In the UK, 1 in 4 people experience mental illness every year, showing the importance of equipping ourselves on how to best respond to support someone in need. Join CWN member and Mental Health First Aid trainer, Charlotte Wiseman, for this interactive webinar to learn skills to look after your own wellbeing and promote positive mental health in your community, workplace and home.
CWN & Wellbeing of Women update members on fundraising, COVID-19 pregnancy research & recent events. see more
CWN raises over £8,000 for Wellbeing of Women during pandemic
Wellbeing of Women would like to thank City Women Network for their generous contributions and continued support over the last couple of months. Together we have raised over £8,000 in the first 6 months of our partnership.
Wellbeing of Women’s medical research has been impacted by COVID-19 as many of their researchers have been called upon by the NHS to help on the frontline. Despite the difficulties that they have faced, they have persevered and done a sterling job. They will shortly be announcing details of research they are funding related to COVID-19 and pregnancy and they responded quickly to the pandemic by providing information for pregnant women - both online and through a webinar available here.
They have a stunning new website and have seen an increase in attendance of their online fundraising events. As the number of COVID infections has now decreased, many of their researchers have now also resumed their projects. Wellbeing of Women have shown that positivity and commitment go a long way.
Their latest webinar in which they are talking to Luce Brett, author of PMSL: Or How I Literally Pissed Myself Laughing and Survived the Last Taboo to Tell the Tale and Elaine Miller a women’s health physiotherapist, is a hilariously open but also vital conversation about living with incontinence and is available here. Their next event about Gynae Cancer Awareness will be in September (details will be confirmed on their website).
Adriana Tatcheva, CWN Marketing and Communications Committee
CWN explores the pandemic’s impact on virtual working, innovation, adaptability and mental wellbeing see more
Life after COVID-19: a journey of growth & transformation
Six months ago, we could not have imagined a face mask as an indispensable accessory, plants on a tiny balcony being critical to our wellbeing or the easing of lockdown measures to feel like a giant leap for humanity.
All this, however, is microscopic compared to the radical transformation in government policy, modern society, organisational strategy and even personal philosophy stemming from COVID-19.
To explore these shifts, City Women Network (CWN) asked some of its members about their experiences with change in the workplace and their professional and personal lives.
Virtual working is the new norm
In the past, few companies dipped a toe into flexible working, allowing employees the occasional day at home when absolutely necessary. Now, the Work from Home (WFH) culture is firmly in place, with Zoom becoming the lifeblood of connectivity.
“COVID-19 has proven that virtual teaming works. Most roles can be flexible, and we are more adaptable and agile than we ever imagined. We will look at role requirements differently in the future. We’ve always enabled flexibility (home working), post COVID this will become the norm for many of our people.” Anne-Marie Balfe, CWN board member and EMEIA Financial Services Talent Leader at EY.
“People will likely choose WFH where possible so organisations will need to apply more flexibility towards work arrangements. Office spaces might be reconsidered from a wellbeing, cost and environment perspective. I can see my working location evolving and I will probably split my time equally between home and the office. Saving on the daily commute time would make such a difference in quality time spent with family.” Bobby Charalambous, Head of Operational Risk, Europe at ANZ.
Creating a space for fresh opportunities
For some, this crisis has become an opportunity to innovate. For example, doctors' offices now provide primary care through telemedicine. The need for entertainment led to virtual tours in museums and concerts streamed online. There have been interesting developments in education, delivery and logistics and mental health among others.
“COVID-19 exacerbated existing pressures on services, with a huge impact on the most vulnerable families. Supported by funding from the Department for Education we developed a membership service called Kinship Response. Since its April launch, we have doubled the number of local authorities we work with. We now operate in two thirds of the London boroughs, taking giant leaps towards our vision of enabling kinship carers to access support at home. It's given us a platform to develop a broader network of local authority partners, build regional frameworks and communities of support to offer a truly national reach for our services.” Kate O’Brien, Director of Business Development and Programmes at Grandparents Plus.
“Being a mental health first aider, I was quite concerned about the impact of isolation on people’s mental and physical wellbeing, so I devised and now distribute a regular mental health newsletter to my Europe colleagues, each edition focusing on a specific subject. So far, we have covered Depression, Anxiety, Domestic Violence, Bereavement and PTSD.” Bobby Charalambous.
“I used to target my financial and professional services clients geographically, working mainly for organisations in the City and Canary Wharf. I’ve come to realise that a client’s location really doesn’t matter as we can easily have briefing sessions and progress meetings online. So, from now on, my clients can be based anywhere in the UK – or, indeed, the English-speaking world.” Carole Seawert of Carole Seawert Copywriting.
Having to adapt to change
Perhaps the most challenging issue has been navigating uncharted territory. Workplace policies have never needed a “what to do in case of a pandemic” section and as a result, people’s professional attitudes have had to adapt to this new situation.
“I’ve been able to challenge and rethink what’s possible, and how we deliver high quality and efficient service to our clients. I’ve focused on inspiring and motivating my team, and being an authentic leader. I share highs and the lows, the joys and struggles of work and home-schooling with my team! It has also made me focus on my own needs and what I really value.” Anne-Marie Balfe.
“One of the things the pandemic has made me realise is that I will now be more open to change. So many everyday things that we took for granted were taken away from us during lockdown: meeting a friend for coffee; visiting an art gallery; going for a swim – to name but three. I always regarded myself as a creature of habit but, since our lives have been turned upside down, we’ve had to learn to do things differently. And when you embrace change (rather than resist it), you get to experience all manner of new things.” Carole Seawert.
I have learned to be more versatile and flexible to ensure that I stay connected locally and globally and continue to work well with people. Going forward, it will be important to stay relevant and up to date with market changes. WFH will be an extension of my office so there should be little difference, just with virtual meetings, phone calls and a few caveats.” Bobby Charalambous.
Redefining personal coping mechanisms
One of the challenges of working from home is the blurring of lines between work and home-life. A full day of work has to be combined with educating kids, preparing meals, connecting with family and self-care.
“It took a few weeks to balance school work, preparing meals and to find time to exercise, but being furloughed, my husband was able to assist. I have become more patient, things that would ordinarily bother me, no longer do. It is very easy to set unrealistic goals on what you should or should not be doing during lockdown. For example, I am not a qualified teacher so I did what I could with my daughter and if she didn’t complete all her work, that was ok too (she is only 4!).” Bobby Charalambous.
“The pandemic brought into focus elements that are within (and outside) of my control. The initial lockdown generated a lot of stress and anxiety, and I struggled with boundaries between work and home life. So I focused on things within my control - a daily run, limiting news and social media, and spending time with my family. I developed relationships with my neighbours to support those who were isolating, and now we are a community like never before.” Anne-Marie Balfe.
“I’ve learned that I’m much more resilient than I thought. On top of being cooped up, client projects that I was working on - or about to start on - all went on hold so there was no cash flow. To add to the stress, there were two family deaths within four months. Despite all this, I’ve coped much better than I ever thought I would and have managed, somehow, to keep a positive frame of mind. Carole Seawert.
“Prior to the pandemic I travelled a lot so it's been really nice to spend more time together as a family. I will definitely prioritise that going forward, as well as spending much more time outdoors. I have a new appreciation for the things on my doorstep - I set up a street WhatsApp group and we still meet weekly to see how everyone's doing. Good neighbours are important, never more so than during a pandemic!” Kate O’Brien.
The pandemic has stretched us, teaching us more about who we are, how we function and what is most important. Things like family, the outdoors, travel and spontaneity cannot be taken for granted. Hopefully lessons learned will be embedded and carried into the next chapter of our lives.
How has the pandemic shaped you?
Preeti Bonthron and Parminder Dhillon, CWN Marketing and Communications Committee
Amy Davies, VP at Autonomous/Alliance Bernstein on second careers, art & working during lockdown see more
Spotlight on Amy Davies
Amy Davies reminds us how it is possible to have not one but two successful careers. After a 15-year career break, Amy is now VP at Autonomous/Alliance Bernstein. She shares her top tips on securing your ideal job even when it might seem a remote possibility, her love of art and delivering client work during lockdown.
What do you do/what's your typical day?
As a VP in Equity Product Sales for Autonomous/Alliance Bernstein, my role is to market the research output published by our sell-side analysts to new and existing clients globally. Managing 40 accounts means I engage with all aspects of the business including analysts, sales, compliance and the accounts teams. My responsibilities are varied and involve pitching to clients, supporting new and existing clients as well as writing a weekly newsletter to highlight recently published work.
How did your career in financial services come about?
After a successful career in Equity Sales for three investment banks I started a family and flexible working was not an option. Once my three children were all in secondary school, it felt like a ‘now or never’ opportunity. I heard of a number of returner programs and a push to get women back into financial services to help improve the gender balance. After a 15-year gap, I found my position through The Return Hub four years ago.
What were the biggest hurdles you faced returning to work and securing a job? How did you overcome them?
Having talked to many colleagues, most women feel a loss of confidence in their abilities after having children and a career break. It is very common to think “who would want me” after such a big absence, but we all still have the skills we developed in our career, so I think the biggest hurdle is the procrastination. The work/life balance was also a concern when I returned to work. I was not sure how it would impact our family life. I think it is easy to be hard on yourself as a woman and try to do it all, so I found there were things I had to let go of and in most cases the family didn’t even notice! Juggling commitments will always be there, but I’ve found solutions to problems and try to make sure that I don’t overthink it.
Do you have any top tips you can share to help other women returning to work?
I was fortunate enough to have been introduced to a “Returner” by an old colleague. She told me to contact as many connections as possible to ask them about their positions as it may be that a delineation of your previous career might suit better. It also helps to brush up on your skills. I am lucky enough to like technology and I had a good understanding of all the office software. To supplement that, I took some online courses as a refresher. Most workplaces offer developmental training which I would recommend taking full use of.
What do you find useful about the CWN?
I think some of the “Returner” programmes offer a lot of structure; my own experience was a bit more "hit the ground running" in hindsight. So, I looked at Women’s networks to join in the hope to meet people to talk to and share experiences. I haven’t been as active as I would have liked as we were acquired by a larger firm (Alliance Bernstein) a year ago, but, I have really enjoyed the events I have attended and talking to an impressive variety of ladies.
What’s your guilty pleasure?
My guilty pleasure is my interest in contemporary art forged by going to a Young British Artist show back in the 90’s. After the birth of my first child, I scratched an itch and completed a contemporary art diploma. When I returned to the city, I realised that I would have to give up being a volunteer ‘Tate Modern Guide’ which I loved and still miss. Lockdown has been really interesting as many galleries have opened virtually and I have been watching inspiring programs on art. Frieze in the USA was cancelled so instead they have a virtual show, which I am enjoying. BBC iPlayer has a behind the Museums series which is fascinating.
What would you say to encourage others to spend more time with art?
I am time-poor but it is important to have moments away from family and work. I really enjoy my art viewing as it feels so removed from financial services, I also make time to play club tennis and catch up with friends.
Which is your favourite art gallery to visit in person?
I worked at Tate Modern for nine years, initially as a Visitor Experience Volunteer and then as a Guide. I met the most fascinating and committed volunteers from all walks of life. I was there for the unveiling of the new extension and the 24 hours opening event. If I need to get away from everything, I visit there for an amble amongst the collections.
What have you missed the most during lockdown?
Lockdown has been extraordinary, I am sure like many of us, I cannot quite believe it has happened. I have been working as before in my role but remotely. Juggling everything has been a challenge but I really can’t complain about my own experience. We had a Work Girls Night Out which was great fun and I realise how much I miss seeing my colleagues and hearing their stories.
What’s the first thing you want to do once we know it’s safe not to stay at home?
I can’t wait to see my family, my mother is elderly with underlying health issues so we have had to stay away.
What are you reading (or watching) right now?
I am reading Hamnet by Maggie O’Farrell and I am binge-watching Normal People (BBC), which is excellent. My children made me watch Tiger King (Netflix), which is extraordinary, and they constantly quote from the show.
Amy Davies was talking to Ana Pacheco, Co-chair of the CWN Marketing & Communications Committee.
Next Events see more
We’ve included highlights below but in the current climate we are updating our events every week so please see our website for the full list.
9 April: What not to do on Zoom and the speaking blunders to avoid - Join CWN Marketing and Communications Committee Co-Chair, Dawn-Louise Kerr and Speaking Coach, Celia Delaney for a practical update on how to make the best use of Zoom video conferencing for business.
16 April: To blog or not to vlog? That is the investment question - Join CWN Marketing and Communications Committee Co-Chairs, Dawn-Louise Kerr and Ana Pacheco for a discussion on the benefits of investing in your marketing during tough times and engaging with your audience from a different angle. They will also share with you their top tips for vlogging and blogging.
21 April: Being a strong leader in turbulent times - In this workshop, Anne Roques and Penny Shapland-Chew will share their own stories and learning as well as some models for handling trauma which they use in their coaching practice. As highly experienced coaches, they are keen to draw on your reality and will use the breakout rooms on the Zoom platform to allow for plenty of interaction and to take questions.
Suki Gill, CFO for ViacomCBS UK/Australia, on life in media, mentors, role models & self-belief. see more
Spotlight on Suki Gill
Suki Gill, CFO for ViacomCBS of UK/Australia region, talks about life in media, mentors and confidence. She shares how embracing constant change can be an opportunity if you get comfortable with uncertainty, which is incredibly pertinent in the current climate.
What do you do/what's your typical day?
I am CFO for ViacomCBS for the UK/Australia region, leading the finance function for well-known brands such as Channel 5, MTV, Nickelodeon and Comedy Central. As well as supporting the leadership team, managing budgets and reporting on financials, a significant part of my day is currently spent working on major transformation programmes within finance and the wider business, in partnership with colleagues across the globe.
What attracted you to becoming a CFO and working this industry?
I was keen to get a solid business grounding when I left university, so training as a Chartered Accountant was a great route to achieving that goal. I have always been an avid media consumer, whether it be TV, cinema or music, so jumped at the opportunity of working in the sector.
What do you find inspirational/useful about the CWN?
The opportunities to meet like-minded professional women and share experiences. Everyone is so warm and welcoming at events, and the topics covered are highly relevant for women in business.
What is your background to reaching this point in your career and how has it defined you?
I qualified as a Chartered Accountant with Arthur Andersen which gave me an excellent start to my career as the training in professional service firms is second to none, and it was also a lot of fun being part of a large graduate in-take as it eased the transition into the world of work. I have subsequently held a variety of roles in the media sector at Sony Music, Capital Radio Group, Channel 7 (Australia) and Sony Pictures International which have all contributed to getting me where I am today, both in building business and leadership experience. I couldn't have made this career journey without the supportive managers and mentors who have guided me along the way, plus the benefit of having executive coaching to help get the best out of me.
Which achievement are you most proud of in your professional life and what are your top tips for our members looking to succeed in a similar way?
I am most proud of the journey I have made in my current role over the last few years - how I took it on with fear and trepidation, how much I have learnt along the way and how my confidence has grown.
What was the most challenging experience you've had in the workplace and what are your top tips for women to turn similar experiences into an opportunity?
The most challenging element is embracing constant change which can certainly be an opportunity if you can get comfortable with uncertainty or be a forward thinker and lead from the front, so you bring your team with you.
As a CFO yourself, what do you think we can do to encourage more women to choose a career in finance and reach the highest levels?
I don't think there is an issue in attracting women into the profession, it’s more about retaining and developing women so that they can progress up the ranks. I am fortunate that in my company and in media there are a lot of visible female leaders who inspire and mentor female talent so they can advance to more senior roles.
What career advice would you give your younger self?
I wish I could have told myself to have more self-belief and that there’s no need to be so hard on myself, especially if things don’t go to plan…which they invariably don't!
How do you juggle your work/life balance and what do you like doing when you do have down time?
Flexible working is key so I can be available for my daughters as much as possible, and still keep the plates spinning on the work front. Also, tight diary management, yoga and pilates, as well as watching Friends with my daughters on Comedy Central…it’s so lovely to see them enjoying it as much as I did first time round!
What are you reading (or watching) right now?
Recent TV favourites include Succession (as it's about a media mogul), & The Crown (I love escapist period drama).
CWN newsletter Mar/Apr covers keeping members connected in unprecedented times. see more
CWN Newsletter March/April 2020
During these unprecedented times we are conscious more than ever, of the importance of continuing to provide a platform for our members to make connections within our network and to share information and keep each other updated. With that in mind, we have moved our events to an online platform for the next few months. We are excited about this new phase for us and for the opportunity to support one another during this difficult time.
We start with news that Uma Cresswell has been elected ‘President’ as a result of our virtual AGM held last week. Uma shares insights into her personal and professional career, including how she has overcome adversity. You can read all about our conversation with Uma in a detailed article further below.
Continuing our theme of keeping connected, we caught up with one of our members, Suki Gill who is the CFO of ViacomCBS for the UK/Australia region. Our charity partner, Wellbeing of Women, share an update as many of their clinical researchers are now part of the NHS front line response to COVID-19.
We are incredibly proud of our network and all that they are doing to help their families, communities and organisations. For CWN, the Events Strategy Committee and Board Members have worked tirelessly to get our online platform up and running - we will be hosting events covering a wide range of topics and share practical and useful strategies and tips.
As always, we hope you find the content in our newsletter useful. If you have a topic you would like us to feature, or if you have any suggestions for our virtual events, please do let us know by email.
Articles in this issue:
A behind the scenes chat with Ana Pacheco, Marketing and Communications CWN Chair. see more
CWN Board and Member Profile: Ana Pacheco, Marketing & Communications Chair
Ana Pacheco, Chair of CWN’s Marketing and Communications Committee, gives us a behind-the-scenes view of the network as well as her life outside it.
What’s your typical week?
As the Client and Marketing Director for The Pipeline (we work with organisations to build a sustainable pipeline of diverse talent and help high potential women achieve senior roles), my week is very varied. I could be delivering a workshop sharing our 10 key observations to improve female progression in large corporates, outlining my vision to our business on improving how we attract our target audience to our website, or leading a session filming our alumni talking through their top tips.
What attracted you to working in sales and marketing?
Looking back, when I was at school I wanted to be a journalist, then a lawyer and then a fighter pilot! These all dropped off my radar for various reasons and it was when I was at university applying for various graduate schemes that I was drawn to the marketing induction programmes. My applications weren’t successful and after a job in finance administration and then in events I got my first taste of sales and marketing in a junior business development role for a Benefits Consultancy. From there I started leading pitches and thrived on thinking about our offering from the client’s perspective and how to get across how it would feel different partnering with the company I was working for, rather than delivering a standard proposal. I moved into running national client account programmes as well as leading sales campaigns there, and as I took on more senior roles I broadened my expertise to marketing strategy and tactics – the rest as they say is history.
How did you reach this point in your life and was there a defining moment/person?
Probably the most defining moment in my life, although it didn’t feel like it at the time, was when my parents divorced which meant my Mum and I abruptly moved from Egypt back to England. We lived with my grandmother who was an absolute inspiration (she lived to 104 years old). She taught me never to give up and passed on a phenomenal work ethic. Similarly, my History and English teachers totally believed I could achieve anything I set out to do which I remember to this day (and they told us always to vote!).
What do you find inspirational/useful about the CWN?
So many things. The other women I meet at events, the expertise and camaraderie of my colleagues on the Marketing and Communications Committee, the ideas and experience of the Board members, the insights from our speakers. I find it particularly refreshing that our members hold such varied roles in their professional lives and yet when you meet them they are so friendly and open.
As a working mum and also the Chair of the Marketing and Communications Committee, how do you pick the opportunities you get involved with and juggle it all?
I’m not sure I do juggle it all successfully. However, when I had the chance to get involved with the Committee I jumped at it because I thought CWN was so inclusive and I wanted to do what I could to contribute to encouraging others to join the network so they can experience what I’ve experienced. Also, it’s easier to juggle when you set up a strong support network – I’m fortunate enough to have a fantastic array of friends where I live and colleagues at work or in previous roles that I know I can call for help or advice.
What’s the role of the Marketing and Communications Committee?
Our initial focus was to increase our interactions with members which has resulted in more regular newsletters, features (such as ‘spotlight on’ or ‘coffee with’ members) and updates on social media. Our strategy now is to create more planned touch points which link to our 2020 theme of ’Wellbeing’, find ways of developing content with our members (e.g. in broader features on our newsletters/social media) and broaden our channels on social media to create more of a community feel (hence the launch of Instagram with motivational quotes and members’ insights).
We all get involved by using our strengths or learning new skills which could be anything from liaising with a member to draft an article on an interesting topic, posting updates on social media or working with our charity partner to communicate ways in which we can all get involved. It’s exciting, fun and certainly diverse. We are looking for members to join the committee so if this appeals to you then do get in touch.
Which achievement are you most proud of in your professional life and what are your top tips for our members looking to succeed in a similar way?
I’m really fortunate that there are several moments: from winning lucrative pitches that were a turning point for the business I was working with, sponsoring women to achieve awards or roles they aspired to, turning around teams that lacked direction and delivering a campaign which directly resulted in new business. My top tip would be perseverance - usually if you keep trying you’ll find a way to get to where you want to be, even if it wasn’t how you thought it would happen when you started.
What was the most challenging experience you’ve had in the workplace and what are your top tips for women to turn similar experiences into an opportunity?
Having worked in a Big Four firm for 15 years, moving to grow a start-up was a big shift as I didn’t automatically have access to a large network at work. I quickly realised that it’s important not to rely only on your operational network (typically at work helping you deliver your objectives) but also to build up a strategic network outside of your day job. Now I have a much broader network which I prioritise helping when I can as it has given me so much more confidence and meant I can add more value where I work as I learn every day from the people I connect with.
What career advice would you give your younger self?
Don’t be so harsh on yourself – remember what you have achieved rather than what you haven’t.
What do you like doing when you do have any down time?
Like most people, I don’t have as much down time as I’d like but when I do, swimming, singing or chilling with my nine-year-old daughter are top of the list.
What’s your guilty pleasure?
Buying Hello magazine before going away for the weekend or a longer holiday. Once I’ve opened that magazine I know I’ve left the office well and truly behind (I really can’t believe I’ve admitted that to you all).
What are you reading (or watching) right now?
I’m reading ‘Invisible Women’ by Caroline Criado-Perez. Every person, whatever their gender or how they identify themselves, should read it. It is truly eye-opening as she explains how the smallest things are creating a huge gender data gap.