Putting women 1st – not just for women!

Sally Brand shares lessons learnt from Tracey Rogers, Managing Director for Unilever Food Solutions UK.

I am a member of the sector skills council People 1st who work to transform people and skills in the hospitality, leisure and tourism industries. One of the initiatives that People 1st champion is Women 1st – an initiative which aims to increase the number of female managers in these sectors.

Ok, so “women’s issues” and the lack of women in managerial positions is concerning and I think it’s great that groups such as Women 1st exist to promote best practice within industry. Many organisations, such as BskyB and McDonalds, are also taking these issues increasingly seriously – and are really putting their money where their mouths are – to improve these statistics within their organisations, and give women the support and confidence to reach their full potential. However, when I was writing this blog I was conscious of the fact that such issues are well debated and long have been. I don’t think I’m the only one that would suggest that another blog or article detailing statistics about the lack of females in senior positions would perhaps be a little old-school; so don’t worry I’m not going to do that (although if you would like to check out some facts and figures around this issue then click here).

Whilst Women 1st are keen to educate organisations and individuals about market trends in these areas, their events are not stereotypical; patronising or about reeling off statistics to highlight how marginalised women are. Instead what they do really well is to provide down to earth, frank and practical speakers who offer applicable advice on how to become a winner in business.

I recently attended such an event where Tracey Rogers, Managing Director for Unilever Food Solutions UK, was the guest speaker. She was a fantastic orator and I genuinely left feeling really inspired and having learnt something. In fact I was so impressed I thought that I would take this opportunity to share some of Tracey’s key insights with learnpurple’s blog readers. As regardless of whether you are male or female I think that everyone can learn something from Tracey’s can-do attitude and experience. After reading politics at University, Tracey moved into retailing with Sainsbury’s and then Tesco (Her claim to fame when working for Tesco was that she was the largest purchaser of condoms in Europe!). She later moved to Unilever where she has been for almost 25 years and has enjoyed a varied career in roles including sales, marketing, brand development and general management.

On reflecting upon her career here, she shared the following top tips:

  • Believe anything is possible! You choose your own attitude in life, and by being upbeat and positive you are more likely to succeed.
  • Market yourself as a brand and always try to exceed expectations.
  • Ask for honest feedback and make sure that you listen to it and act.
  • Don’t be afraid to “play the game”. Some people think that by just doing a good job, someone will notice. Especially in larger organisations where there are lots of people competing for recognition, this is not always the case. Make sure you have a clear strategy and that you are visible and proactive within your organisation.
  • Don’t be afraid to generalise. Tracey believes that she has progressed because she is a generalist – having roles in sales; marketing; brand development and general management gave her a more rounded understanding of business and prevented her from being pigeon holed.
  • Unfortunately workplace bullying all too often exists. Although it can be difficult you have to stand up to a bully and make it clear you will not stand for it. Don’t be afraid to confront a bully and give them a metaphorical “bloody nose”.
  • If you want to be successful you have to stick with the winners; don’t be afraid to move on if an organisation cannot offer you what you need.
  • If a company has a vision that fits your personal ethos you are much more likely to want to stay and succeed there.
  • Love your customer – remember to thank them for their business (it’s simple but so many people forget to do it!) and to make it as easy as possible for your customers to do business with you.
  • To be successful you need to be able to answer four things:
  1. What is the market place like?
  2. What are your competitors doing?
  3. What is around the corner?
  4. What is my winning move?
  • Most importantly have fun and enjoy what you do!!

Tracey’s speech really resonated with me and here at the purple place we’re all about expanding our knowledge, so if you have any top tips, stories or reflections to share then please do let us know. We would love to hear from you!

If you would like further information about Women 1st or you would like to join the programme then please click here to go to the People 1st site.

2010-05-05T00:00:00+00:00 May 5th, 2010|