Yesterday, Northern Power Women celebrated International Women’s Day, and it felt like the perfect time to publish this (long overdue) blog. It will, I hope, act as record – and a reminder – of the sheer determination, and resourcefulness of the women I’ve met through the Peer Networks programme I’ve been helping to deliver, in Lancashire, with fellow Northern Power Woman Simone Roche MBE and Jane Dalton from GroundswellInnovation
Peer Networks – Boost is a peer-to-peer networking programme for SME leaders that ‘want to grow and develop their organisation for future success’. Each network is made up of between 8 and 12 members, all looking to collaborate on challenges they need to solve.
As part of this programme, we have been hosting 18 hours of virtual sessions for a fabulous cohort of female business leaders. In these sessions we talk about any issues we are having, share advice, knowledge, tips and contacts, support each other, and tell our stories.
And wow have these women got some stories to tell. Each one has had to rethink and transform their business in the face of adversity (some, more than once). Each of these amazing women has not just survived the challenge of the pandemic, they are positively thriving.
Alison Watson, Class Of Your Own. “We are a micro social business with a mission to inspire young people to experience the digital Built Environment. We have innovated our delivery to work remotely with industry and education, creating extraordinary opportunities for Design Engineer Construct! students and driving genuine social value.”
Emma Woan, Education Business Partnership. “We link the business community to students,and we’ve been supporting the kick–starter programme during lockdown. It’s so important now more than ever to support our students into work after the year they’ve had and we’ve never been so busy.”
Susanna Boccacci, Brilliant Trees Media. “Our business has changed focus during the lockdown, we’ve been helping businesses with their stories as more and more people are using video content now. It’s been hard work but really happy that we are busy.”
Rachel Lee, Teleport. “I was just about to launch our service when Covid struck, we quickly repositioned our offer and created an app that uses virtual reality to transport people to places across the world.”
Nazmeen Ahmed, AJ Spurrett Opticians. “As a front-line service, we ‘ve worked right through the pandemic to support our customers. We’ve made many changes to our business to provide a safe environment and open up digital opportunities.”
Liz Russell, Envirosystems. “We work with farmers to make their lives better. We help them produce more of the food their animals eat from the boundary of their own farm. This improves production and their carbon footprint. Our products harness powerful biological forces, e.g. friendly bacteria, clever enzymes and eco-friendly by-products. The pandemic has brought opportunities for our business and UK farmers and through collaboration with the industry, with farmers and consumers we are excited about the future.”
Dot McCarthy, Cronkshaw Fold Farm . “Our ‘Goats on Zoom’ service that we created during the pandemic has gone global, as has the other ideas I came up with during lockdown. I’ve grown so fast and I can’t wait to use the profits to invest in green technologies for the farm to help tackle climate change.”
Nina Lockwood Intuitive Interim Executive Search. “I’ve turned to using video, YouTube andLinkedIn during the pandemic to keep connecting – we recruit into the transport industry and have found it a great channel to engage.”
Tiffany Moore, Renes Fashion.“We change our business model – gone on-line and gone digital from tik tok, to live events. Our customers and followers are loving our new approach and we continue to strive for any further opportunities and potential to collaborate with Peer Network members too.”
These women are all different ages, from different sectors and backgrounds and at different stages of their career, but all have something to offer each other – and all have benefitted from the shared support, ideas and collaboration. They’ve called it a ‘network for life’ and put its success down its diversity.
Incredibly, most have seen their business grow through the pandemic. Dot, for example, has seen her turnover increase by £40K – an amazing achievement!
As true testament to the supportiveness and generosity of these women – and belief in the power of networks – they’ve opted to devote their last session to ‘paying it forward’ to the younger generation of women, helping them to see the power of networks.
To get involved with the Northern Power Women take a look at their website, and register at http://be-heard.io/. To understand more about the Peer Networks contact Peer Networks – Boost (boostbusinesslancashire.co.uk)