By Jan Godfrey MBE
Women in Business was born in January 2006, following the Wayland Partnership’s move from their small office on the High Street to Wayland House, which was about to develop into a one-stop-shop for information, an art gallery and most important of all a business centre.
As we set about recruiting start-up businesses as tenants for the serviced offices in the building, Suzanne Rhind, our development officer at that time, Susan Hollingworth our Assistant Centre Manager, and I were struck by the number of women who were finding it difficult to compete in the world of work.
Some worked in a male dominated field and could not get their voice heard; some were juggling home and family with work and missed out on opportunities for networking and learning; some were bumping their heads on glass ceilings, finding that however good they were at their job, they could not get promotion beyond a certain level; some simply recognised that they lacked the confidence to step onto the next rung.
We had heard about successful Women in Business groups in other areas and it seemed that a need was beginning to be identified in the Wayland area and so we organised an initial meeting to test the water. Our purpose was to create a network of women who could share ideas and good business practice, develop client contacts and learn new skills.
Over those first two years we met bi-monthly and enjoyed some pleasant lunches and some inspirational speakers from Alison Lowe from Felicities through Dragon’s Den participant Julia la Ronde Packham, to everyone’s favourite, Bev Hurley of Enterprising Women.
It was no co-incidence that WWIB was launched in the same year as Enterprising Women. Funded by the Regional Development Agency Enterprising Women was formed to promote Women in the world of Business. We had heard about this development and wanted to ensure that local Businesswomen had access to its support.
A change of venue from Wayland House to Broom Hall Country Hotel, raised the profile and numbers have grown and strengthened. The Wayland Partnership is very pleased both that we were able to initiate and nurture this group and that we have been able to see it grow and develop.
In more recent times, the organising of the events and lunches has been undertaken by the new team who regularly attend the lunches, as the group nows marks its tenth anniversary year in 2006.