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Balancing act

Fifth annual Wo+Men’s Leadership Conference at Cambridge Judge Business School focussed on ‘Building Balance’ through gender diversity and better workplace policies.

Wo+Men's Leadership Conference 2019.

The annual Wo+Men’s Leadership Conference at Cambridge Judge Business School focussed on gender diversity and how men and women can better work together. ‘Building Balance’ was the theme of the 8 June event, attended by about 150 people.

Professor Sucheta Nadkarni
Professor Sucheta Nadkarni

“This is the fifth year we’ve run the conference, and the third year it’s been oversubscribed, which demonstrates how important the topic of gender balance in the workplace is,” said Professor Sucheta Nadkarni, Director of the Wo+Men’s Leadership Centre.

Cath Kidston, founder of design and retail company Cath Kidston Limited, told delegates to “follow your gut” regarding their aspirations. “Just try. What’s the worst that can happen?”

She recalled an entrepreneurial spirit from early childhood: “I loved playing shop. I emptied my mum’s cupboards then sold it all back to her. I dug up my great-aunt’s vegetable garden when she was out and sold the vegetables for a pound.”

Keynote speaker Laurel Powers-Freeling, Chairman of Uber UK, said networking, mentoring and family support are very important for career development.

Panel discussions chaired by Cambridge Judge faculty focussed on encouraging women to speak up and negotiate in male-dominated environments, moderated by Dr Jenny Chu, University Lecturer in Accounting; work-life integration, moderated by Dr Thomas Roulet, University Senior Lecturer in Organisation; building confidence to lead, moderated by Dr Jenny Chu; and navigating your career, moderated by Dr Lionel Paolella, University Lecturer in Strategy & Organisation.

Closing workshops focussed on humour and leadership, with Dr Vanessa Marcié, CEO of Leading with Humour and a Cambridge Executive MBA graduate (EMBA 2016), and mentoring with Dr Thomas Roulet.

“There is a synergy to the topics that are being explored today – building work-life balance goes through to having mentors that will share their best practices and ideas on how to build that balance,” Thomas said.

The Wo+Men’s Leadership Centre thanks Goldman Sachs for their generous sponsorship of this year’s conference.