CEO Blog: Anyone can be a radical woman

Thursday, 13th December 2018

Blog by pro-manchester CEO, Sam Booth

Am I a radical woman?

That’s the question I asked myself when I was invited to join Alliance Manchester Business School’s radical women panel as part of their ‘She’s the Business’ event a couple of weeks ago.

My initial thought was why I was asked to be on a panel about radical women, but therein lies the problem, especially with women in business. Sometimes, we just don’t believe in ourselves enough. We work hard, we get on, we do, but far too often we neglect to appreciate what that means and look back on what we have achieved.

When I think of radical women, off the top of my head, I think of incredible women like Emmeline Pankhurst, Marie Curie or Amelia Earhart. When I dug deeper and thought about it, it’s not about getting women the votes, curing cancer or being the first female pilot, while these things are absolutely incredible, beyond radical some would say, I believe I speak to and work with radical women every day. I am a radical woman!

The event was about women and entrepreneurialism and I perhaps have not set up my own business from scratch, but I have worked hard to move pro-manchester forward from the networking organisation I joined to the business development organisation it is today.

That has been down to passion, love and belief in everything we as an organisation do. We have adapted to market challenges and changes and have grown considerably as an organisation, despite some difficult times. We are now a strong dedicated team of eight very passionate, driven women.

Being surrounded by such driven women is inspiring in itself. We work as a very strong team. We’re very diverse in our skillset and we all absolutely love what we do.

And there we have another vital point – if you love what you do, you are passionate, driven and believe in what you do, you can’t go far wrong.

Christina Taylor, CEO at Inspire was sat on the panel with me and said something that stuck: “Don’t worry if you have the least experience or feel like you know the least in the room – you are in the fortunate position because you have the most to learn.”

In the 11 years I have worked at pro-manchester, I have pretty much covered every role in the organisation. Immediately adapting when necessary to cover sickness, maternity and whatever else was required to keep the business ticking over. I couldn’t even tell you the number of things I didn’t know then that I know now, simply by having an open mind and by learning.

When I first joined pro-manchester, my role was to launch the Young Professional pro-manchester Network, as it was known as back then – now known as Future pro-manchester. I was to create a series of events and activities specifically designed to create a network of likeminded individuals and provide them with a safe environment to meet fellow professionals, network and build relationships.

11 years on and the programme is running from strength-to-strength, with a wealth of events and activities aimed at supporting the younger professionals in Manchester. The programme offers young professionals advice on career development, leadership, management, building their careers and networks and proudly creates the leaders of today and tomorrow.

We celebrate that talent at our annual Made in Manchester Awards, recognising the best individuals, rising stars, entrepreneurs and mentors in our region.

Manchester is the perfect breeding ground to grow up, develop and follow your own path to success. It has all the necessary tools and support needed if you know where to look for it and are brave enough and believe in yourself to take those chances.

All of the original committee of young professionals from over a decade ago are now thriving in their own right. They are running their own, very successful businesses or are at the top of the chain within their respective organisations. Like me.

I guess the whole point of this article is to share the thought process I had when Vikas Shah put me forward to speak at what was a fabulous event. I immediately put myself down, without thinking about the reason I’d been asked to be part of the event in the first place.

I was asked what advice I would give to my younger self, and maybe I still need to re-read point one:

  1. Believe in yourself more
  2. Surround yourself with the right people
  3. Be brave – take the chances
  4. Always love what you do and what makes you happy – if you find yourself on the wrong path, switch direction.
  5. Be strong, be persistent – no matter how daunting a situation is, don’t let it intimidate you and believe you are not good enough, or that you have happened here by chance or luck. You haven’t. You have worked hard to get to where you are, AND you deserve it.