1. Tell us a little about yourself?
I grew up in the north of England and set up my first company at 24-years-old. I am now the founder and CEO of five successful businesses in the UK and overseas. Most recently, I have launched Stella Insurance in Australia, a car insurance brand unapologetically for women. I’m powered by a desire to fundamentally change the insurance industry for the better. I believe in building businesses that work for everyone: the people they employ, the communities they operate in and the customers they serve. I have two incredible kids from my first marriage and now share my life with them, my fiancé, Jennie (who has just written and published a children’s book about blended families), and our pet Yorkie poo. I’m into my fitness, although I equally love my food and wine. I’m extremely passionate about learning new things and supporting other female entrepreneurs. In particular, I am a vocal supporter of equal rights and the promotion of diversity throughout the workplace.
2. Who are the women who have inspired you the most in your life?
Personally, I was deeply influenced by my science teacher, Marilyn Lewis. When I was 15, she taught me the value of being an adult who genuinely cares and believes in you at a critical age. I like to think that Ms Lewis’ legacy lives on in me today as I navigate adulthood. In terms of women I have admired from a distance, Michelle Obama epitomises all the characteristics I admire most in human beings. Maya Angelou’s attitude to life and her poignant poem ‘Still I Rise’ always makes me well up when I listen to it.
3. Why do you think it’s important to increase the number of women in business, particularly in leadership roles?
Women represent around 50 per cent of the population yet are woefully underrepresented in senior management roles. Women account for about a third of management positions globally which is a positive shift from a few years ago. However, it’s no secret that diversity is good for business, but it’s more than just policies. Businesses need to walk the talk. Studies have shown, time and time again, that women bring cultural and commercial knowledge to a workplace that their male counterparts are not able to. That said, years of systemic inequality is not going to change overnight. I strongly believe in the saying you can’t be what you can’t see’, and as the mother of a spirited 8-year-old girl, I really want her to have as many opportunities as her 5-year-old brother.
4. How would you describe your current thinking about diversity and inclusion?
If I was to tackle one thing in business, it would be to push for more humanity. Humanity is definitely the future of business, but it needs to be done with authenticity. It’s easy to forget we are all human beings with emotional needs and unique day to day challenges. I honestly think the answer to building better businesses for everyone is to ensure we don’t ever forget that.