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Thursday, March 7, 2019
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International Women's Day Breakfast Briefing

The IWIRC London Network and R3 celebrated International Women’s Day by hosting an inspirational breakfast briefing.  Kristina Kicks, IWIRC London Network Co-chair of Sponsorship and Director at Grant Thornton, welcomed a packed room of over 100 guests and explained that International Women's day is a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. She stressed that the day is all about unity, celebration, reflection, advocacy and action and urged us to continue to work to promote dignity and collaboration, tenacity, respect and empathy. 

Emma Lovell, CEO of R3 also extended a warm welcome and reflected on diversity and inclusion developments in the last year and her own career experiences leading to the appointment as R3 interim CEO in January 2017 and CEO in January 2018.  Emma, a self-professed introvert discussed some of the obstacles she had to overcome to lead confidently.  She also shared several strategies on how to achieve success by using strengths that come from your unique personality rather than having to change your personality to be successful.

Veteran insolvency expert, Liz Bingham, OBE, gave an overview of changes she had experienced in diversity and inclusion and shared many tips from her years of experience in business and the insolvency profession including during her time at EY.  She recognized that by including more diverse voices at the table, it could lead to more disagreement and while this disagreement might be challenging for managers, it would ultimately lead to better results.  Liz cautioned against protectionist behaviour and “saving women from overwork”, as it often led to women missing out on key opportunities and training and ultimately the pay gap.  She advocated that women work together to build each other up and encouraged using strategies like “amplification” in meetings to highlight key contributions often overlooked when presented by a woman.

Olympic gold medallist, World and Commonwealth champion of the 400 meter race, Christine Ohuruogu, MBE, spoke about her achievements and shared five key take aways.  Firstly, embrace the unknown.  She encouraged the audience to step out of their comfort zones and go after what they are thirsting for.  She explained that she would not be standing before us had she not taken a chance on the 400 meter without knowing very much about the sport initially.  Secondly, she explained experience cannot be rushed.  She shared with us that it took several times of failing to put it all together and break the record, but sometimes you have to keep working at things and “let them be, so that they work themselves out.”  Thirdly, she stressed that consistency is the key to success on the 400 meter and in life.  She encouraged the audience to “understand your own rhythm and follow it; don’t follow others.”  Fourthly, she encouraged us to deliver when it matters.  While she stressed that it was important to have goals, she cautioned that one should focus on their own goals and strive to achieve those goals rather than other people's goals.  In particular, she pointed out that “if we strive, we can do anything, but not everything.”  Fifthly, she told us to honour our bodies.  She encouraged everyone to take care of themselves both physically and mentally, so they can perform at the top of their game – whatever that may be.

The breakfast briefing was closed by IWIRC London Co-chair and Director at EY, Joanne Hewitt.  Jo discussed the launch of the IWIRC London Network and the phenomenal growth in membership over the first year.  She also noted that adaptability and empathy are strengths shared by many women and encouraged the audience to embrace these essential skills to find their own way of success.  She expressed hope that the IWIRC London Network could be a catalyst for change and a supporter of women in restructuring and insolvency. 

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