All we could do was grin and nod at each other, hands over our ears- an excellent ice-breaker! Kerry Harding (our Women in Business facilitator and all-round Wonder Woman), had run out via the stairs and re-entered breathlessly to lead us back up, wafting the tantalising aroma of fresh scones under our noses. Bright nervous women of all ages gathered upstairs in the white conference room, welcomed by our genial hosts. It felt like going home in a way, reminding me of the years I spent in office environments. I didn’t expect to find pleasure in it! I remember being so anxious I knocked over three cappuccino in my first week of a new job!

This feels very different and I realise that am much less thin-skinned. I am almost overwhelmed by the positivity of the space. In my 11 years in London I had never been in a meeting with more than three women and I’ve had two female bosses! I found the first facilitator, Nancy Brown, remarkable in her openness and honesty about herself and her career. After a quick warm-up (yes, we moved! Businesses never seem to emphasise that moving your body wakes up your mind), we shared ideas with a neighbour and we immediately found things in common with each other.

Nancy made it incredibly supportive and not competitive. Everyone got space to speak and share. I am feeling more visible, more able and my idea, which I was scared to share, was met with signs of appreciation and approval. Everyone got it. There were no “why would anyone ever do that?!” comments that I got from some family members. I feel now like the ground I walk on is a path leading forward to good and useful things. I want my idea to give back, not just to me. I am reminded that I can do this and that I have experience in many of the things we are discussing on the course. The time flew by. 

I am really enjoying the programme! It is also a revelation that you can continue to be supported by the programme even after you start your business! As it develops you will need additional skills and there are lots of  workshops where you can gen up. I had no idea what to expect when I signed up and the calibre of the speakers is excellent. Successful women who are as human as you and I, running global and prize-winning businesses, some grown from the kernel of an idea that The Connect Programme itself helped grow to fruition.

 I did an additional workshop with Niamh Taylor of Digital 24 – (click on the link for invaluable social media platform information.)  Niamh is totally switched on and had us completely enthralled for the 2 hour digital seminar .  I took myriad notes which will be super helpful as my business continues to mature. My one-to-one with Melanie Fitzpatrick was excellent,  she basically told me to get on with it and stop prevaricating and making excuses!  Exactly what I needed to hear! Women in Business Connect Programme = Women with a wealth of experience in a multitude of roles making the gig economy work for them on a global scale and even future proofing it to manage aging parents. 

I would definitely recommend it – the calibre of professional and entrepreneurial women in this country is extraordinary. Take the plunge, get involved! Sign up today!   by Nikki Elliott Contact Nikki@walkitoffni to discuss accompanied walking or chaperoned events.

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