I know I have not blogged for a while. However I am going to start rectifying this starting from today. It is always too easy not to blog however I realise recently how much I have missed it. However yesterday I was part of something special. This was blogged about in Eileen Browns Blog post yesterday. This was the "Connecting Women in Technology" event that I was part of the project team in organising.
I am so proud to be part of this inaugural event which sprung from some late night musings by Eileen Brown over a glass of Wine. We had over 250 women signed up for this event held at IBM Headquarters at Bedfont Lakes Feltham. So why do I think this event was so unique ?. Well if you sit back and think about it. This was the first time Microsoft Cisco LloydsTsb IBM and Dell have come together to talk about the challenges that face Women working within the Technology industry. This is women reaching out and networking across Company boundaries and sharing experiences and networking and identifying that we are not alone, and when we work together something special and very powerful unfolds. The presentations were excellent. We opened with a very powerful presentation from Jacquie Davey Vice President of IBM. Eileen Brown from Microsoft followed and both presenters were relevant and to the point identifying some of the key issues facing women today and identifying that often we are our own worse enemy. The presentation that truly moved and touched me on the day was Tracey Gilberts from IBM. This talked about Tracey leading a team of 20 women and their experiences building homes (yes building !) for families affected by HIV/AIDS in South Africa.I was facilitating the whole event throughout the day and after this presentation it took me a couple of seconds to compose myself before I went back up onto stage. Sarah Davey from Dell gave an excellent presentation around Supporting Women Returners . This is something that alot of companies are not so good at doing that is retaining women after they have gone on maternity leave. One of the powerful films of the day was the "Mind the Gap" DVD. This was commissioned by the Mayor of Londons Office for the "Women in Londons Economy" conference. It certainly was thought provoking especially around the subject matter of how we as women approach pay negotiations.
We were extremely lucky to get some excellent panellists, including our own Kate Islar from Microsoft.
Cisco: Debbie Hick – Director of Service sales
Dell:Janet Cropper –
IBM:Jane McNeill – UK, Ireland, South Africa IT Security Competency Leader
LloydsTSB:Jayne Opperman – CIO for Central Functions
Microsoft: Kate Isler – Chief of Staff, Online Services Group
We will learn from our next event to give more time to this section as the discussions were just warming up before we had to finish.
I think what everyone enjoyed from the day was the "Speed Networking" section. This enabled all of our delegates from across companies which by the way included more than the five stated above, we also had representatives from Oracle, KPMG, Said Business School, Barclays. It was brilliant to reach out and talk to Professional Women working within the industry from different companies and find out how much we have in common. The day all too soon came to a close and we finished it off with Drinks and Nibbles providing yet another opportunity for more networking. So to sign off I would just like to acknowledge what a pleasure it was to be given the opportunity to be part of this event. I would like to acknowledge the great part Eileen Brown had in having this idea that morphed into something really special. Furthermore I would like to acknowledge the members of the project team.
•Nikki Walker – Cisco,•Louise Oliver – Dell,•Irene Tichy – IBM,•Jenny Jones – IBM,•Jayne Opperman – LloydsTSB,•Meriel Cornish – LloydsTSB,•Caroline Buckingham – Microsoft,•Eileen Brown – Microsoft,•Jane Lewis – Microsoft.
We only had our first meeting on the 28th of January, and we put this together in 6 weeks. WOW !. Everyone played their part to perfection. You girls were and are a pleasure to work with.
So are we doing more events ?. The answer is yes !. Based upon the feedback which we will be going through, we will hopefully be holding our next event around September 2008. So watch this space for more information.
See below for some pictures from the day.