On Thursday 6th March, Burgess Hill Girls were proud to host the Tomorrow’s Women Conference.
The conference is unique in that it has been created and organised entirely by us, the students at Burgess Hill Girls. We have been involved in planning every aspect of the conference, from deciding on the format, to selecting speakers and marketing the event.
The timing of our conference came in the convenient overlap between National Careers Week and International Women’s Day. The conference celebrated outstanding and enterprising work by women from a range of backgrounds and across a diverse field of opportunities.
Our first speaker Jo Shiner, Deputy Chief Constable of Sussex Police, gave us a powerful message about overcoming potential barriers due to sex discrimination, and about being assertive while also remaining authentically and proudly yourself. Her account was enlivened with the positive message of staying ready to laugh at everything life might bring as well as centring your own wellbeing while seeking career success.
Jo Shiner, Deputy Chief Constable of Sussex Police
Clare Griffiths – Business Development Manager and founder of the Thrive Effect – spoke next, sharing her message for young female entrepreneurs. With a strong message on being ready to step out of your comfort zone and taking up opportunities when they arrive; girls were enthused about the possibilities of their future. Her message that workplaces today value authenticity and that collaboration can trump competition also spoke well to the audience, many of whom want to succeed without undermining their ethical values.
Naomi Muston is an Eco System Manager at Barclays Eagle Labs in Brighton, a co-working/incubator space that once was a Barclays branch and now works with businesses who are looking to grow and develop. Her enthralling account of her own journey, from the dramatic arts into business, and her recommendations about the importance of mentoring and building connections in the workplace were appreciated. Sharing that 77% of tech directors in the UK are men, she inspired girls in the audience to play their own part in changing that statistic.
Danielle Brown MBE, double Paralympic Archery Gold medallist, inspired everyone with her account of achieving success on the international stage. She believes “success is a choice” and, through accepting who you are you can take steps to build who you want to be. Explaining things often “don’t go to plan” also helped prepare the girls in the audience for a world that will not necessarily follow an expected pathway. The glint of gold from her Beijing and London Olympic medals brought audible gasps from the audience.
Our final speaker Mims Davies MP, spoke passionately and honestly about her pathway into politics. Her account of how her wish to improve a local park started her journey into Parliament inspired us all to consider how small beginnings can lead to outstanding things. Her ability to celebrate the everyday successes of a local MP demonstrated how even seemingly small changes can have a big impact within the community. Her legislative successes in championing laws highlighted the opportunities available to influence national politics.
Mims Davies MP with Burgess Hill Girls Mock Election Lib Dems winner, Charlotte
What repeatedly came up from speaker to speaker was the challenge of imposter syndrome. Whilst the speakers highlighted this wasn’t something solely experienced by women, it was fascinating to hear that it spanned across diverse experiences and backgrounds. Many expressed that even in spite of all their work and capabilities, the feeling of not belonging or deserving their success, was ever-present. The answer to overcoming this was also repeated; whether you are an entrepreneur, international sportsman or politician – sometimes you just “fake it until you make it” and see the response you’re met with.
The Tomorrow’s Women 2020 Committee and guest speakers
Written by the Tomorrow’s Women Committee – Luella, Saridja, Leisha, Birdie, Sophie, Rumbi, Michelle, Charlotte and Winnie.