Young Women in Solent Inspired by Local Business Women

Young women from three schools in the Solent found inspiration from 12 successful business women from the region at an event hosted by The Southern Co-operative,  KPMG, Southampton Solent University and Business in the Community on International Women’s Day 2017 [March 8].

Thirty-six girls aged 14-15 from Oasis Academy Lords Hill, Woodlands Community College and Portchester Community School came to Southampton Solent University to meet the career women, who shared their experiences and worked with them to help them prepare for their own future careers.

The women attending included: Maggie Haynes, owner of Tuppenny Barn; Tracy Nash, commercial director at Hampshire Fare; four managers from The Southern Co-operative including Bev Wyatt, Joanna Creese, Gemma Lacey and Kate Hibbert; three managers from KPMG, Georgianna Rustell, Andjela Djukanovic and Zoe White; Gillian Saieva from Southampton Solent University; and Caroline Spiby, founder of Caroline’s Dairy.

The day included a speed networking session when the girls were able to ask them how they built up their careers and a skills session helping the girls to reflect on the skills they already have that employers look for, as well as giving them an understanding of how their academic studies will support them in a practical way in the world of work.

The event was hosted by The Southern Co-operative through their Business in the Community Business Class partnership with the schools. Business Class is a school-business partnership programme managed by Business in the Community (BITC). Schools identify their priorities for improvement and, supported by BITC, work with their business partner to achieve shared goals.


Kate Hibbert, Local Sourcing Manager at The Southern Co-operative said: “We have had such a fantastic day and it’s been a humbling experience to talk to these girls. I was an incredibly shy teenager and wouldn’t even pick up a phone, I hope to inspire kids who may be suffering from confidence issues to realise their full potential – feel the fear and do it anyway, to quote a famous book!”

One student from Oasis Academy Lord’s Hill in Nursling, Southampton said: “I had some really good advice and the ladies really inspired me. They told me that there will be knockbacks but you need to keep going to succeed.”

A student from Portchester Community School in Fareham said: “The day helped me understand what to do in interviews, ask questions, be confident.”

Another student, from Woodlands Community College in Harefield, Southampton said: “I learned that I shouldn’t say ‘I can’t’ when I haven’t tried something as I might find out I can just by doing it.”

Jane McMaster, Assistant Headteacher, Portchester Community School said: “This kind of event is important as it enables young women to engage with successful females who inspire, motivate and reassure them about who they are and what they can achieve. The experience will remain with them for a long time.”