Three members of the Humber Local Enterprise Partnership’s Boards are heading to London today to an event promoting female participation on LEP boards.
Jo Smedley, the LEP’s Small Business Champion and Managing Director of Grimsby’s Red Herring Games; Anne Tyrrell, Chief Executive of further education college group DN Colleges Group, based at North Lindsey and Doncaster College; and Gill Alton, Chief Executive at Grimsby Institute for Higher Education, will be attending the event alongside over 160 senior women business leaders and entrepreneurs from the private, public, education and third sectors.
The LEP Network Women Leaders 2019 event is aiming to showcase existing women in leadership positions and the challenges and barriers they face; inspiring women leaders to get involved with LEPs; and promoting the impact that LEPs have in their communities.
Jo Smedley started her own murder mystery company, Red Herring Games, while on maternity leave from the NHS. Having previously practiced as an occupational therapist, Jo turned her passion for writing into a career through creating murder mysteries – as well having her novel, The Missing Witness, published in 2017.
From her career experience, working in the public sector for the NHS, before moving over into the private sector, Jo has a firm knowledge base on how both sectors work. Understanding how both spheres operate allows her to understand the needs, the jargon, and the limitations and strengths of both sectors, which makes her a strong member of the LEP Board.
As the Humber LEP’s Small Business Champion, Jo also uses her knowledge of running a small business to contribute strategically on business needs of SME’s to the LEP Board. She is part of Totally Locally Grimsby, and is a vital voice to make sure the small businesses of the Humber are heard – which is especially important since small businesses make up 90 per cent of companies in our region.
Jo said she felt it was beneficial to see different kinds of voices represented on boards, including those from female-dominated sectors she felt were important as part of a diverse business landscape.
She said: “I think it’s important to have the right people on any board – not just 50 per cent men and 50 per cent women – but the right representation of people from across different sectors. But LEP boards need representation from people in sectors such as skills, healthcare and caring – all of which are dominated by women, as well as say engineering, which has a lot less female participation.”
Jo added that she felt it was really important to have visible female representation on boards to encourage other women, and girls, that they have a place on boards, too.
Anne Tyrrell has a background in education, working previously in schools, a local authority and has spent 30-plus years in further education. She started her working life as a teacher near Brighton and then moved to the Midlands, Coventry, York, North Lincolnshire and Doncaster in a variety of positions.
Anne brings to the LEP her extensive experience and knowledge of the skills agenda and has contributed to the development of Humber’s Industrial Strategy.
She said: “Being involved on the LEP Board has been really valuable to hear first- hand about all the developments in the Humber and to hear and understand different views as well as taking an active role.” Anne has used her role to become an advocate for the Humber, ensuring we make progress in areas that can make a positive difference in the region.
Similarly to Jo, Anne believes that boards need to be diverse to ensure all different kinds of voices are heard. She said: “It is not just about women, it is important for all boards to be diverse, not just because of fair representation of different groups.
“What is most important is that in any debate or discussion, in a diverse board you hear different views and different opinions that would otherwise not be heard. These views enable others to understand different perspectives, educate, change and influence the way forward. It is really about enabling a board that hears different voices and different perspectives.”
Like many LEPs, the Humber LEP is committed to Equality and Diversity and is taking steps to ensure that we have a range of people on our boards so our diverse community is properly represented. Currently, the Humber LEP has established a Board Member Panel to consider and recommend to the LEP Board actions needed to ensure its board composition reflects the diverse communities of our region.
Kishor Tailor, Chief Executive of the Humber LEP, said: “I am thrilled Jo, Anne and Gill are representing the Humber LEP at the National Women Leaders event.
“The Humber LEP recognises the significant value of our diverse communities, and the importance of inclusivity in achieving our future prosperity. Diversity in the workforce enables competitive advantage through realising improved business outcomes: these include increased innovation and creativity; enhanced problem- solving; improved productivity; increased revenue; and an improved culture.
“It is a fundamental ambition of the LEP and its partners that no community will be excluded from full participation in economic life and progress, including women, and we are extremely proud to have these two successful female leaders as part of our board.”
Jo and Anne’s top tips for women leaders:
Anne: “Work hard, be resilient and find a work/life balance that works for you. Life experiences are important because they shape who we are and the way we lead and make us more balanced and rounded. Don’t believe you have to harshly separate the two.”
Jo: “It’s important to surround yourself by the right kind of people. You need to have the right friends – and good advice – in your network. You not only need supporters, but people who are there to help you through times of crisis. I feel women are better at networking and building those connections, and can use their natural skills as communicators to build these business friendships.”