With International Women’s day still firmly on everyone’s mind, we thought what better way to kick off our new ‘Hot Seat’ series than with our very own all round superwoman, Angela Lurssen.
Amazed by how she manages to fit everything in to the same 24 hours as the rest of us, we chatted to Angela about what being a woman in business means to her, what she feels the expectations are and who she admires. We even got some very useful tips which we will all be trying out.
1) As a woman in business, what challenges do you think women face and how do you overcome them?
Angela: We are still in a situation where you need to get more women in the boardroom, on speaking platforms and judging panels. But for now, at least, all male environments are challenged and called out. The more equality we see, the more it becomes normal and the more change happens.
I really appreciated the recent ‘protest’ by Jonny Tooze (Lab) at the ‘Digital Entrepreneur’ awards ceremony. It’s excellent to see someone making a stand on equality.
It’s the same in other areas of equality – especially when you bring children into the equation. I know we have a long way to go; but as I see male friends staying home with children, part time and flexible working arrangements accepted; the more I feel hopeful for a better future. The fight continues, but I can see a lot of glimmers of light down the tunnel.
2) The tech and digital world is traditionally a male dominated business, how have you seen this changing?
Angela: The big change is that we’re now seeing this as something that has to start at an earlier age. The promotion of STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) education for girls as well as boys, coding, the promotion of positive role models for both genders. We now know that male dominated businesses aren’t built when you enter the workplace; but years before that when gender models are encoded through life and education. It’s a work in progress. I think there’s still a huge need for more female mentors across the sector to help drive change.
3) What woman/ women do you admire for their work within our industry?
Angela: There are so many women to admire in our sector. One is Claire Beale, editor of Campaign. She’s assertive, bold and unafraid with her opinions. She shapes our sector in a positive way. Many of the other woman I admire are in sport – my other passion. Chrissie Wellington (OBE) for starters, a four-time Ironman Triathlon World Champion and new mum. A multi tasker extraordinaire. She’s fearless. Her passion came from a dark place and she managed to turn it into something incredibly positive. Those are qualities that apply to whatever you’re doing in life. Chloe McCardel is another woman I hugely admire. She’s an Australian long-distance marathon swimmer with 24 solo English Channel swim crossings to boot, the 4th person in the world to complete a non-stop triple English Channel crossing and she currently holds a world record of the longest unaided swim of 128kms. Mind blowing. Her single-mindedness, grit and determination is truly inspiring.
4) You live an action-packed pluralist life, your dedication to your role as Waypoint’s Business Development Director, along with your passion for charity work, volunteering and intensive competitive training for marathons/ Ironman, what is your secret for an efficient work/life balance?
Angela: My approach to sport and work are not all that different. It’s always good to start your day with an exercise to clear your head – that would mean an hour run for me to kick off the day. The earlier the better. I quite like being part of the 5am club :). In both, you need to work out your goals and then break them down into bite-sized chunks. Balance can sometimes be a challenge, but I love all aspects of what I do which makes them all hard to switch off from. Working with such a great team helps immensely.
There’s an excellent quote I use for both sport and work: ‘She turned her can’t into cans and her dreams into plans.” I also use this lovely quote from Winston Churchill: ‘Never, never, never give up.’ That certainly comes in handy when trying to juggle everything plus it’ll be useful whilst attempting the Comrades ultra-marathon taking place in June this year.
5) What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given?
Angela: Always stick to the values that are important to you, stay true to yourself and give with an open heart without expecting anything in return.
6) Finally, as an admirable woman in business, what 3 tips would you give young women to carve a successful career?
1. Seek a mentor – either through contacts or a network/mentor finding scheme. People are often more than happy to help someone else reach their goals.
2. Eat, sleep and breathe (and repeat) your chosen specialism.
3. Build your network: attend events, share thought leadership, seek opinions and be open to opportunities. Don’t be afraid to ask. What’s the worst that can happen?