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13 Mar 2024

Enterprising Women conference promotes a “can-do” attitude

Empowerment, facing our fears, building self-confidence and taking risks were among the topics up for discussion at this year’s Enterprising Women annual conference.

The event, at the Radisson Blu Hotel at East Midlands Airport, took place to coincide with International Women’s Day and brought together leading women in business from across the Chamber.

The theme was “inspired inclusion” which shaped the agenda for the day. It also marked the launch of the Enterprising Women Awards 2024 which are now open for nominations.

The packed event –  the 27th to be held – was brimming with lively discussions and positive energy and looked at issues ranging from the changes needed to get more women into boardrooms, to general long-term business goals, strategies for success and creating more diverse, equitable and inclusive working environments.

Speakers included Sarah Higgins, expert facilitator and creator of the Power of Love Leadership model, Jaz Kaur, co-founder and chief executive of Fraser Stretton Property Group, Danielle Brown, a Paralympic archery gold medallist, and Ian Morgan OBE, the deputy chair of East Midlands bus company Wellglade.

Andrea Gray, managing director of Leicester-based music licensing body PPL PRS, hosted a panel talk with guests including Mandy-Jayne Evans, Nicki Robson, Laura Kearsley and Lisa Gilligan.

Enterprising Women founders and co-chairs Eileen Perry MBE DL and Jean Mountain hosted the day, which also saw the launch of the 2024 Enterprising Women Awards, due to take place in September.

Jean said the conference itself had always had great support – both male and female – since the very first one almost three decades ago.

She said: “More men support women in their careers now which is a big shift that I’ve noticed in the last 27 years.”

Despite that, she said empowering women and getting more of them into business remained an issue that needed addressing – and events like the conference and the Enterprising Women group were helping fix that.

She said: “My advice is “do it, do it, do it, don’t think about it”. Women tend to think longer about things – men are more impulsive.

“I think women should just do whatever they want to do in their career, even if they want to leave their jobs and set up their own business.

“They should join a network like Enterprising Women to meet like-minded people. We all have to start somewhere and it’s never, ever too late to make a change.”

Laura Kearsley, a partner and head of employment law at Nelsons Solicitors, said they had been supporting Enterprising Women and the annual awards for several years.

She said: “The International Women’s Day event is really the pinnacle of the Enterprising Women calendar as far as I’m concerned.

“It’s multi-faceted because for a start it’s an opportunity for women to get together, network, help each other, collaborate and really grow and empower each other – but we’re also setting an example for younger people at the start of their careers who are in this room and who are also back in our businesses.”

Nelsons head of corporate Alice Rees said: “I’m in corporate finance, quite a traditionally male-heavy area, so it’s really nice to have a bit of representation in the professional world – and great to get a lot of like-minded women together to celebrate who we all are.”

Nicki Robson, managing director of HR specialist Breedon Consulting in north west Leicestershire, said it was a brilliant event, full of supportive people.

She said: “We support SMEs across the East Midlands and it’s still so often the case that women will not put themselves forward.

“Having something like this, and supporting women and saying “yes you can” is great.”

For details of the awards go to and search “Enterprising Women Awards 2024”. The categories are:

Apprentice of the Year (sponsored by Futures Housing Group)

Female Employee of the Year (sponsored by Nelsons Solicitors)

Social Commitment (available for sponsorship)

Emerging Leader (sponsored by Sarah Higgins Corporate Coaching)

Female Entrepreneur of the Year (sponsored by Fraser Stretton Property Group)

Small Business of the Year (sponsored by Unique Window Systems)

She Who Innovates (sponsored by Pick Everard)

Team of the Year (sponsored by Breedon Consulting)

Business Woman of the Year (sponsored by Michael Smith Switchgear)

Lifetime Achievement (sponsored by Paradigm Wills & Legal)