Women are under-represented at Board level in the digital/tech sector in Scotland (and in that Scotland is not alone!). To address this imbalance, the mighty fine people at TRC Media created Special Edition, a professional development programme that seeks to help ambitious, talented women fulfil their potential and reach the very top.
The overall ambition of this programme is to set the female delegates on a career trajectory that ultimately leads to the boardroom. Previous delegates have gone on to secure significant promotions, including to Board level, and start their own companies.
Last night, I was lucky enough to attend the launch of the 2017 programme and hear from four of the 2016 delegates:
Danae Shell, FreeAgent | Head of Awareness
Laura Boyle, Dog | Senior Analytics & Insights Manager
Sarah Johnson, Whitespace, Head of Digital Marketing
Terresa Aitken, Signal, Group Account Director
The room was packed with female professionals interested to learn more and the event was kindly sponsored by Makar gin (served with a slice of chilli!).
The session involved a very informal, beautifully honest Q&A with the 2016 delegates largely around motivations for applying for the programme and what they took away from it.
The motivations for applying ranged from “wanting to channel the fire in my belly”, to building leadership skills, to wanting to “be a better version of me”. One of the 2016 delegates noted “it’s rare to see something that allows women to be ambitious” and this really attracted her.
The programme runs over 6 months, involving 1 day for the first 5 months, and an investigative trip on the 6th month (last year it was London and Berlin). So does the programme deliver? All delegates agreed it was life-changing. Benefits included “normalising ambition” and allowing yourself to acknowledge you are “shit hot”. The consensus on the stand out session was dealing with difficult people, described as being “given a coat of armour” to deal with all future situations. The presentation session also raised lots of comments and laughs and I got the sense that all the 2016 delegates had left the programme empowered with new confidence and personal insights but also with a super useful toolkit for getting through the day-to-day.
The trips to London and Berlin provided insights and surprises and all acknowledged that it was very empowering to meet female entrepreneurs and business leaders who were just like them. As one delegate stated, “I thought I was precluded from being that person” but on meeting these awesome women and observing their normality this sense disappeared. A few other takeaways they got from the trip:
- Taking the view “what is the worst that can happen?”
- You can fail, get up, talk about it, learn and move on (but do not miss out the talk about it and learn in this process!)
- Make sure as an individual or leader of team that you create time to step back and look at the cool shit you have created and achieved as this something we often forget to do.
And two business mantras picked up that would resonate with any agency:
- You want me to pitch? Pay for it!
- Death to timesheets
It was very clear that the 2016 delegates loved the programme and all felt they got a huge amount of worth out of it, stating the group dynamic was as important as all the stuff they learned on the way.
My favourite observation was, “the thing as a whole has unlocked the secret person inside me”.
Male or female – I think we all have one of those.
Find out more or apply now (Scotland only) here. Applications open today and close on Friday 7th July.
And check out how awesome TRC Media are here.