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International Women’s Day 2022 series #BreaktheBias

Interview with Jacqueline Hughes Lundy

Founder of Inspiring Women Awards, the Inspiring Young Women Foundation, Entrepreneur and Educator

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YOUR WORK AS FOUNDER OF INSPIRING WOMEN AWARDS PROVIDES A PLATFORM FOR WOMEN IN THE NORTH TO BE RECOGNISED.

WHY DO YOU THINK ITS STILL IMPORTANT TO DO THIS?

Over the years I’ve had many people ask whether female only awards are still relevant. Why do we still need to highlight women’s achievements? Sadly the answer is always the same – whilst strides have been made, 30 years on, we still have a long way to go.

If you look at, for example,  the latest stats around the gender pay gap, the number of women on leadership boards and women’s rights surrounding Maternity Pay, it's evident education is still required. So yes, it’s still necessary to have events like these highlighting the fantastic contributions women make to our society and the role models we produce to inspire the next generation.   

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YOU’RE KNOWN TO BE A MULTI-FACETED WOMAN WORKING IN MEDIA, EVENTS AND EDUCATION.  WHAT BARRIERS HAVE YOU FACED IN YOUR MALE DOMINATED INDUSTRIES?

Financial Services in the 80’s was a very macho culture, and I faced a significant barrier when I announced I was pregnant, which continued after the birth of my first child. Looking back, I put most of the pressure on myself, I didn’t want any of my peers to think my work ethic had changed, resulting in feeling stressed about having to balance childcare and my career.

Eventually I stood up for myself and prioritised my family’s health and it changed everything for me. Ever since, I’ve continued this way of working and followed the opportunities that have worked best for me. I have started ‘loudly’ in every post ever since.

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THE THEME FOR THIS YEAR’S IWD IS #BREAKTHEBIAS – WHAT ONE PIECE OF ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO YOUNG WOMEN WANTING TO FOLLOW IN YOUR PATH OF ENTREUPRENERSHIP?

Only one piece of advice? Say YES then worry about the details later. Think about what’s the best that can happen rather then concentrate on the worst and if it doesn’t work out, move on.

Over the years I have been fortunate enough to be offered many and varied opportunities, from board appointments and fronting radio shows to working with some fantastic people on projects. In recent years, I have enjoyed an amazing job opportunity that came about from answering a tweet! I wasn’t an expert in this type of role, in fact I had no experience whatsoever, but I knew I had the courage to take a chance and make it work. This resulted in a fantastic 7 years as a Senior Lecturer in Higher Education.

A close friend passed this on to me about your career: ‘you earn or you learn’ and I would add if you are really lucky, you do both.

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WHO IS YOUR INSPIRATION?

I am inspired by courage. Who has not been moved by the courage of the Zelenskyy family in recent weeks?

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WHAT HAS BEEN A CAREER HIGHLIGHT FOR YOU?

The Inspiring Women Awards is now 30, and when it turned 18 I also founded the Inspiring Young Women Awards. The Award, which is open to 16-25-year-olds, hopes to inspire the next generation by recognising those young women who have beaten the odds to achieve their dream; been inspirational to others; set up businesses or are overcoming obstacles to pursue their career.

Giving a platform to these inspiring women and young women is a privilege.

Building up the Foundation has also allowed the Awards to support and fund projects - one such beneficiary is the ‘Pretty Tough’ girls project at Warrington Youth Zone. The Foundation funded this project, and we were also able to offer support by inviting some of the young women to travel to Manchester (thank you Alison Loveday for sponsoring the evening) and spend the evening with a group of successful business women. Both groups benefitting from some unique insights.

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FINALLY, HOW DO YOU THINK GREATER MANCHESTER HAS HELPED YOU SUCCEED?

Across it’s business scene, Greater Manchester has a healthy support network of fantastic women leaders who, over the years have allowed me to share my ideas, and pass on opportunities to others. Maybe it’s a Northern thing, but there is certainly a generosity in the area.

The senior women in this eco-system are willing to give their time and energy to support other women coming through which has also been great for our Inspiring Young Women Foundation.

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