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How the Idea for an IWD 2019 Event Began

I initially thought of running an event for International Women’s Day just before Christmas. The idea was put to me by my team member, Shelley Routledge, who asked, “what are you doing for International Women’s Day?”

It seemed a long way off in the 2019 events calendar. To be perfectly honest, I had not given this day of celebration much consideration! We were now exploring all possibilities. The inspiration was there. But how would this idea be put into practice?

The Practicalities of hosting an IWD 2019 Event

Choosing the venue for IWD was a top priority. As a result of this, the event partnership was formed. I am an enthusiastic and seasoned collaborative businesswoman, so our first choice was the only choice. Once my team and I discussed the roundtable IWD event with Nick Howe, Enterprise Manager for Nat West Business Banking, the acorn had begun its journey from seed to tree. We decided that the event should be free and would be held at Nat West’s newly refurbished ‘Covent Garden’ room.

It seemed a long way off in the 2019 events calendar. To be perfectly honest, I had not given this day of celebration much consideration! We were now exploring all possibilities. The inspiration was there. But how would this idea be put into practice?

Booking my Inspirational team of Event Speakers

After giving a keynote speech in Atlanta, Georgia for the Guide My Heart organisation, I asked, CEO, Syreeta Ziegler to be our special guest. She agreed immediately. With her huge creative input and experience, her practical assistance was instrumental in organising the day’s itinerary.

With Syreeta booked as the VIP guest, who else would speak? My top choices all gave me a resounding ‘YES’ and the marketing for the event was underway. Speakers included Emily Quinton, Director of MakeLight. Shelley Routledge, Director of Narratorial, Lucy St John, Director of Lucy St John Bridal hair and Makeup and Roucheon Iloyi, a homeschooling mum and entrepreneur.

The IWD 2019 Event Sell Out!

Once the venue, theme and speakers were all in place, it was time to actually market the event. We did this via Eventbrite and advertised it through all social media platforms. The response was staggering. A total sell out! The pressure was now on. The whole team had to deliver.

International Women’s Day Event, Friday, March 8th 2019

The day came around quickly and my special guest, CEO of the Guide My heart Foundation, Syreeta Ziegler had landed in the UK a few days ahead of the event. We made our way to Nat West’s conference centre, eager with anticipation. Once we arrived, the atmosphere of excitement was palpable. All guests and speakers, alongside the brilliant Nick Howe, were keen to get the event started.

Nat West Enterprise Manager

Nick Howe

Nick introduced himself and spoke positively about ensuring more women got the business advice they needed, regardless of ethnic or socio-economic background. He repeated Nat West’s commitment to highlighting and actively participating in International Women’s Day. Everyone immediately warmed to him and this was due to his compelling and engaging speech. Nick later exclaimed:

It was wonderful to be a part of such a like-minded group organised by Fiona and YMSN. The authenticity that was clear based on the personal and deep stories shared by all meant that all attendees felt at ease very early on and then went on to learn and make new contacts. NatWest was delighted to be able to host the group which was another way of supporting more women in business.

CEO, Guide My Heart

Syreeta Ziegler

I was the first to speak, introducing myself and our theme for IWD 2019 of ‘balance for better’. I introduced my VIP guest, CEO Syreeta Ziegler, who gave a rousing speech on how girls need to love and respect who they are before they can truly make a difference to society as a whole. Syreeta explained the importance of self-love, education and awareness for all women and girls to feel fulfilled with their lives. She impressed everyone and I cannot thank her enough for all the assistance she gave in the build-up to the event.

Director, Makelight

Emily Quinton

Next was the wonderfully creative Emily Quinton, Director of MakeLight. Emily gave her speech on work-life blending, and how this differs from the traditional work-life balance. She advocated that flexibility was the key to ensuring women felt more at ease with raising children. She made everyone smile as she recounted the many scenarios she had found herself in, and how she had come to develop her ideas on work-life blending. I felt honoured to have Emily with us, as she gave a very personable account of what ‘balance for better’ meant to her.

Director, Narratorial

Shelley Routledge

Shelley Routledge, Director of Narratorial was the next speaker to tell everyone how she had developed her ideas and practices on women being their own PR machines. She recounted a very personal journey which had brought her to a more positive place and state of mind. Shelley had given me the initial idea for IWD and it was great to hear her speak.

Beauty Expert

Lucy St John

Lucy St John showed all the guests why she has been running her own business for over 10 years. Her professional tips and tricks included things such as always remaining professional and leaving your personal problems at home. Offloading on your clients, she stated, wouldn’t really win you any new ones! Lucy is a consummate professional who left a lasting impression on all of us, due to her many years of experience as a savvy businesswoman.

Roucheon Iloyi

Last to speak was Roucheon Iloyi who spoke about the need to cleanse your inner self before you can attempt to help others, in particular, meeting the needs of your family. She eloquently told all the guests how she home schools her children whilst maintaining all her business interests in a calm and measured way. Everyone enjoyed listening to her thoughtful speech and took away snippets of her wise words.

IWD – A Day Of Reflection

During and after lunch it was time to network and make new connections. I am pleased to say that everyone did just that! It was a real joy to see all those attending discuss how they could relate to the many issues each speaker had put forward. Everyone present began to exchanged business cards and share ideas. My team and I felt a real sense of achievement from developing and executing a thoroughly groundbreaking event for our guests.

Further Events With Me, Fiona Small

After the resounding success of IWD 2019, I came away feeling that I had unknowingly found my true superpower. But this had been achieved through a dedicated and concise team effort. I learnt a huge amount from listening to the many stories and helpful tips and tricks of other women. Many personal stories were shared and they all had universal themes which everyone present related to. However, the person who learnt the most was, without a doubt, me. Due to this, I hope to develop more events. Watch this space!