We talk to Simone Roche about her inspirations in business, and find out what advice she would give to someone just starting out.
What do you currently do?
I am the founder and CEO of Northern Power Women, a campaigning group that aims to accelerate gender equality FROM the North of England. We work with corporate organisations, universities and government to create campaigns about gender diversity in business. We also host the Northern Power Women Awards and produce our Power & Future Lists, which recognises female leaders and change makers in gender equality.
What was the inspiration behind your business?
I attended the first International Business Festival in Liverpool in 2014, which focuses on supporting the growth of UK SMEs through an event programme offering expertise, insights and networking opportunities. As part of the festival, I curated a sell out 200 capacity event on gender diversity in business and the role women play in driving the economy. The turnout was fantastic and afterwards, many women told me how the event inspired them to take action in the professional lives, go for promotions and even strike out on their own as entrepreneurs. That’s when the idea for Northern Power Women was born. During my career I have held roles in many different, often male-dominated workplaces like the military, the Olympic Games and Aintree Racecourse. While I enjoyed these opportunities, I knew that I wanted to do something to empower more women to be successful in business and realise their potential. And that’s exactly what Northern Power Women does.
What defines your way of doing business?
Collaborative, authentic and with purpose. There is no need to reinvent wheels so I’m keen to connect and join the dots to ensure maximum impact of our campaign.
Who do you admire?
Business owners who have a vision, passion and create amazing organisations which can change the world. I admire Carolyn McCall CEO EasyJet, Arianna Huffington and Michelle Obama who adopted a unique style to achieve change for good as first lady.
I admire so many of the northern power women I have met and engaged with over the past two years. The more we can share fantastic role models across the North, the more we can encourage a future generation and brilliantly talented returners to work to seek opportunities across the north and be drivers for economic change.
Looking back, is there anything you would have done differently?
I believe you learn every day so nothing I have done that I would change – only perhaps to do it quicker!
What advice would you give to someone starting out?
Find your passion and make it a career. I get a great deal of satisfaction from seeing other women succeed, so it doesn’t feel like a job at all. I also think one of the most important things is to go out and make connections. I really enjoy meeting people and talking to them about what makes them tick. If you are able to make strong professional connections then this will stand you in good stead for business relationships. Plus, don’t be afraid to take risks. If I hadn’t hosted my event at the International Business Festival I wouldn’t have had the inspiration to start Northern Power Women, so getting up on that stage and talking about my passion really paid off.