Power Q&A: Vanda Murray OBE non-executive director, Pro Vice Chancellor and Chair, Manchester Metropolitan University


How is NPW different from other groups that promote gender equality?
It’s a movement that’s growing in force and in numbers, creating a voice and a visibility that simply wasn’t there before.

It’s created a real buzz around what a group of women and men can do, hopefully more men in the future, to create visible role models and be a voice for what women can achieve in the workplace.

I’d like to see the transformation of power that has been created by the NPW movement. I’d like to see it translate into more women on the boards of senior companies, more women in the executive pipeline – which is where it’s actually leaky at the moment – more women standing up and being heard and visible at events, more women having a voice in the media and speaking out.

All the things we hear again and again about women lacking confidence – it’s not what I see. We just need to make sure they believe they have a voice, and that voice is listened to. So I think there’s some hard targets about how it’s going to transform lives of women.

It might not start in the north because most of the investment is in the south but as we know, more and more is developing in the north of England so we need to make sure that our Northern Power Women take their place in that development of our economy and are a visible, vocal and strong force – and bring other women with them to create something very special.

We’ve got a great platform. Simone’s done an amazing job and I think it can grow.

How do you accelerate gender diversity in your everyday practice?
I try to be visible. I speak at lots of events and make sure that I’m seen and that I have a voice on things that are important on this agenda.

I’ve also undertaken a research project with Manchester Metropolitan University on generating routes to women’s leadership.

When I recruit, I would always expect to see lists that are 50:50 men and women, but of course we recruit on merit.

I also mentor men and women and try to make sure they are all realising their potential.

There’s never been a better time for women to take their place on boards. I don’t think there are any barriers. It’s true that there aren’t enough women coming through – the Hampton-Alexander Review made that very clear. We need to do more work in the middle of the organisation to make sure women aren’t leaving the workplace, that they are being developed and believe that they’re going to be promoted. That’s something around men and women taking action. We need men to be involved in this as well.

I believe that women can achieve whatever they want. They just need to stand up and be counted and be visible and vocal. There’s never been a better time.

by Carolyn Howgego

Carolyn Howgego is a PR consultant, media relations specialist and content creator powered by Northern Power Women.


Vanda Murray OBE is a member of our NPW Power List. Read more about Vanda here.

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