Maggie O'Carroll

Power List 2016
CEO, The Women's Organisation

Maggie O’Carroll established the North West based women’s economic development agency, The Women’s Organisation in 1996. She recognised women as a huge untapped entrepreneurial market in the U.K. and saw the potential commercial and social impact opportunities in providing business support services to help more women to start and grow sustainable enterprises.

Maggie has led the overall strategic development of The Women’s Organisation, which is now the largest developer and deliverer of training and support targeting women in the U.K. Today, the agency operates internationally delivering business and education services across Europe and in China, Thailand and Africa.

Maggie is a Business graduate with a Masters in Community Enterprise from the Judge Business School, Cambridge University. She has lectured at Liverpool University Management School on Entrepreneurship and Liverpool John Moores University on Measuring Social Impact. She is a regular contributor to conferences on issues relating to women’s education, employment, entrepreneurship and social enterprise and has been actively involved in women’s economic development policy influencing on an international, national and regional level.  

What does Northern Power Women mean to you?

We believe that women-focused organisations are so important for accelerating gender diversity and getting the very best out of the British economy. Northern Power Women work tirelessly to raise the status of women in business, to shine a spotlight on the trailblazers and to drive economic growth. Northern Power Women ensures that the North of England really leads the way when it comes to gender equality.

What is your greatest achievement?

I hate talking about my own achievements because there have been so many people who have supported me in my own journey, so everything I see success as a real team effort. It was great to celebrate our 21st birthday with the team and some of those key supporters last year, and to acknowledge that more than 50,000 women have been supported through The Women’s Organisation. Knowing that we’ve made a positive impact to the lives of women who have accessed our services and hearing their individual stories is what motivates me.

Why is it important to champion role models in the North?

I’ve always believed that ‘you can’t be what you can’t see’, and this is why shining a spotlight on role models is crucial to getting more women in those top positions. Young women need to look at panels, board rooms, local councils and know that this is perfectly achievable to aspire to. To do that, we have to shout about the successes of the pioneering women who are leading the charge in their own respective fields today and hope that this will inspire other women to know that they too can succeed.