International Women’s Day

To celebrate International Women’s Day 2019 we ask business women from around Worcestershire about what inspires them and how they’re making a difference in business.With issues like the gender pay gap and the #metoo movement spearheading campaigns for change, women are doing everything possible to help forge a gender-balanced world. The International Women’s Day 2019 campaign theme of #BalanceforBetter is a call-to-action for driving gender balance across the world.

We ask 5 business women from Worcestershire how they will help to make a difference locally.

It’s all about self-belief and the ability to adapt to change says Sharon Smith, CEO of the Herefordshire and Worcestershire Chamber of Commerce. Sharon heads up the 7th largest Chamber in the UK, having joined as Director of Finance and Corporate Services in 2007, which supports over 4000 business delegates across the two counties.

“Having worked in business support organisations for the majority of my career to date, I am always amazed how business, which supports the whole economy, can be so resilient and adapt to change in the most difficult of circumstances. It’s a great pleasure to represent such a diverse set of businesses in the two Counties through my employment with the Chamber of Commerce. As a female Chief Executive, it’s also inspiring to see more women leading and representing their businesses; this is truly motivating for me and inspiring for the younger generation.”

Sharon continues: “Ladies, continue your good work, strive for the stars, there are no limits for us. For those still in education, continue your learning, you are our future – believe in yourself, you can do it!”

This is echoed by Louise Hewett, founder and MD of Hewett Recruitment, who suggests that “the opportunities that are available now compared with when I started my business 40 years ago are incredible. I understand the difficulties that women are faced with but businesses are beginning to take action and be more flexible. Once your support system is in place, family, friends, however you do it… visualise success and believe that anything is possible. Focus on the positive and be kind to people as you go.”

Louise has won recognition for her involvement in business throughout Worcestershire with a plethora of awards such as the Pride of Worcestershire, Business Woman of the Year and a National IRP award for best contribution to the community. Always seeking new opportunities to influence the economic growth of the county, Louise and her team at Hewett Recruitment encourage people whatever their gender to “wherever possible, find something that brings you joy and satisfaction… it’s a candidates market out there, if you enjoy your job you are more likely to succeed!”

Kully Johal is a CEO and investor of GBR14, a disruptive UK Cyber Security start-up based in Worcestershire and is a member of cohort 1, Betaden: Worcestershire’s first technology accelerator, funded by the Worcestershire LEP.  Kully is a female investor and through her business, Amaryllis Ventures, she invests and works with technology start-ups. She is an advocate for supporting local entrepreneurship through the BetaDen programme and is encouraging entrepreneurs, especially female entrepreneurs, to apply for the second cohort, which has just opened applications. More information can be found on their website,

One of Kully’s key values is that women “should go out and shine as they have so much to offer. Once you can do what’s best for you then you can help others do what’s best for them.”

Kully gets her inspiration from her sikh faith, which she believes “is about equality, diversity, sustainability and being compassionate in all aspects of life.”Julia Williams, business consultant and vice-chair of the Worcestershire Ambassadors agreed: “I could not have succeeded without the help of others and for that, I am eternally grateful. My advice to make a difference is ‘simple’… we cannot make a difference alone. Life is so much easier and better when we celebrate others’ successes, support and lift each other up. I strive to do this each and every day – ‘If I can help you, I will’. If you have achieved great things, competitor, or not, I will always celebrate and be happy for you.”

Jen Semini, MD of ISO Quality Services Ltd, said “I’m inspired by seeing other people succeed, be it my colleagues, our clients, or other local businesses. If I’ve helped that in some way I get a sense of achievement. My best piece of advice is to never stop learning – read books, watch TED talks, go on training – it doesn’t matter if you think you’re an expert – you can always learn something new.”

Thanks to Ruby Edwards from You Do Better for putting this article together to celebrate International Women’s Day 2019.