Celebrating Women in Business

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Since working at oneHR I have been to a few networking events in Liverpool and other cities, but none have been as fun and memorable as the Women in Business Awards 2016 (#WIBA16); this year marked the fourth awards hosted by Downtown in Business in association in the Women’s Organisation.

Frank McKenna, CEO of Downtown in Business describes the event as “a celebration of female entrepreneurs, business owners and decision makers who made a significant contribution to the economic growth of the Liverpool City Region”. Maggie O’Carroll, CEO of the Women’s Organisation echoed Frank’s words and reinforced her delight in hosting #WIBA16 by describing it as “a fantastic opportunity to celebrate the significant contribution that women are making to economic life in the Liverpool City Region”. We were accrediting the business women and also the 20th Birthday of the Women’s Organisation, “this event reflects [their] continued passion for seeing women empowered as business leaders and owners” Maggie wrote in the event brochure.

I arrived at the Crowne Plaza following a busy morning at oneHR HQ, having been slightly “sleet-swept” let’s say on the way, but irrespective of the weather, I got there in one piece – curly blow still in-tact. Down the red carpet was a carousel of well-dressed, smiling ladies who most certainly all looked the part for the awards luncheon. Slightly nervous to say the least, I queued up and put my coat in the cloakroom then turned around to see a sea of women, and handful of male guests all in dynamic discussions. Initially I thought, I’m out of my depth here, I don’t recognise many people and there seems to be distinct groups of guests who all know one another.

Before I knew it, I had bumped into a girl I knew from school who is now a Corporate Finance Executive in the North-West and she immediately made me feel at ease. From then on, I was feeling back to my usual bubbly-self and ready for the afternoon ahead. Just under an hour later, we were called into the main room and sat at our assigned tables, I was with a lovely group of ladies who were all great fun and I feel will honestly be good business connections for the future.

Now enough of my diary entry… Nisha Katona was one of the most stimulating ladies I have ever listened to. If you don’t know who I’m talking about, you should! She told us all about her journey from a young girl to graduating and practicing the law as a barrister (even though she was told a female, Asian graduate of the law would not make it to the courts) to establishing her very own Indian Restaurant set to go National, Mowgli ( and having heard about her serious market research before opening – I cannot wait to go eat there). Oh, and she is a published author! Nisha effectively hammered home the notion that if you want to take the plunge and try something new, then do it; risk taking is exhilarating and worthwhile if you have the determination to do so. She was also so proud of her heritage, and this truly stuck with me. Her mother was on her table, and she made reference to her support and guidance numerous times, every time I saw Ms Katona, her mother was by her side and this reflected her speech. Another message I picked up on, was her statistics for female entrepreneurs within the Liverpool City Region; that there are still not enough and we must keep going. But this cannot happen if women do not support one another, a barrier many business women come up against, is not law driven or general society – but other women, and this must change! Deserving, Nisha got a standing ovation from the guests in the room, she left a “can do” attitude within the room and her real drive and ambition was inspirational!

Following lunch, a little later than scheduled the awards kicked off, hosted by Frank McKenna and Ellie Phillips. Ellie is a multi-talented lady who on a day-to-day basis is a  Presenter on Bay TV Liverpool, DJ and co-host on what was Juice Liverpool, Columnist and Music Editor for Exclusive Magazines across the North-West. Having won a myriad of awards herself, Ellie is no stranger to these sort of events and co-hosted with an air of sophistication and style. The awards got off to a flying start, and as I briefly mentioned the ladies on my table earlier, I have to again congratulate Christine Gilfoyle from PIP Legal who won Recruiter of the Year 2016. oneHR sponsored the Professional of the Year 2016 Award and I was thrilled to present it to Alison Lobb from Morecrofts. The photo below, kindly sent to me from Jack at DIB is of all of the Winners taken in the Crowne Plaza lobby.

WIBA16 Winners

Following the Crowne Plaza, we all were invited to the Aftershow Party at The Club House at the top of Liverpool One, which did not disappoint. A great venue, there’s nothing quite like it in Liverpool – we can’t wait to see what they do with the fabulous outdoor area in the Summer months. Thank you for a wonderful event @DowntownBusines and @TheWomensOrgLiv for a wonderful day celebrating Women who contribute to business within the Liverpool City Region.

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