The Chelsea Flower Show. A firm favourite with green-fingered enthusiasts who flock to south west London for the world’s greatest flower show.
And what better place for us to meet for our Women of the Future Summer Networking Event which, in my mind, is equally vibrant, colourful and the greatest community of women in the world.
This year our networking event was hosted by M&G Investments and I couldn’t help but notice how befitting their strapline of “lets grow for the future” was.
Why? Because the definition of growth is both the process of increasing in size and also the process of growing to one’s full potential. In my view, that is exactly the gift that this incredible community gives to its members and it is a huge honour and privilege to be part of this community.
I have it on good authority that plants need 3 things to grow – sunlight, clean air and healthy soil. I think this is an equally relevant metaphor for growing talented women for the future and helping them reach their potential.
In fact, our energy source is none other than the ray of sunshine that is Pinky Lilani (the yellow jacket was no coincidence) – the founder and chairwoman of the Women of the Future Awards and Community. Pinky has been growing talented women and helping them reach their potential for decades.
Her philosophy of kindness and collaboration and how pivotal they both are in helping people grow and succeed comes through loud and clear in every interaction with her.
Growing talented women for the future is Pinky Lilani’s speciality and you know that you are somewhere pretty special when you look around a room that is filled to the brim with over 150 stand-out women from different backgrounds, industries and professions.
Our clean air comes from the fresh ideas and perspectives that are shared at these events by the speakers, and this time was no exception. It was touching to hear from Dr Swati Piramal and Julie Etchingham and hear more about their career journeys.
Dr Swati Piramal is one of India’s leading scientists and industrialists, and what impressed me the most is that Swati is behind the first Indian pavilion at this year’s RHS Chelsea Flower Show, where the showstopper is the Himalayan Blue Poppy. Her passion and love for both India and gardening came through loud and clear when she kindly toured us around her garden after the event.
Equally impressive was Julie Etchingham who shared her career journey, and the highlights of what has of course been a very successful career in journalism. Putting us all at ease by starting her speech by saying that if there were ever a moment for imposter syndrome to present itself it would be right now, looking out at a room full of talented women, Julie went on to share some great practical advice. Key highlights for me were: 1. Make things happen for yourself, 2. We need to use our voices for all women and 3. When the invitation is not there we need to build our own table.
Which leaves me with the last thing that plants need to grow which is healthy soil – where all the essential nutrients are stored. For me, the healthy soil is represented by all of the women who make up this special community. They provide both an anchor for our roots and are also there to support us as we collectively grow higher.
With the Women of the Future community providing all of the essential ingredients for us to grow together, we are planting our own garden, adding a splash of colour to the communities and professions we serve and I have every hope that this community will continue to blossom and make its mark on the world we live in.
Member of the WOF Network and Winner of the 2015 AWA Business Award