Roseann Kelly, Chief Executive of Women In Business Northern Ireland, talks about the importance of women business networks, making a network association sustainable and international expansion.Download Podcast
Roseann Kelly, Chief Executive, Women In Business Northern Ireland
Women in business have the same challenges and opportunities that the guys have, but they don't have the networks and the role models. This is where we come in.
My guest on this podcast is Roseann Kelly. She is Chief Executive of the Women In Business Northern Ireland. Launched 15 years ago with ten women, today Women In Business is the largest network for female entrepreneurs and business leaders in Northern Ireland, with over 2,500 members. Roseann talks about starting at WIB thinking she would be there for a few months - and ending up staying over a decade, with a mission to change society and the business world to reflect women's voices.
"We needed to be independent, because one day the funding would be gone"
Listen to Roseann as she talks about the business thinking that kept Women In Business humming along and growing for 15 years. There used to be four other networks - and now there's only WIBNI. Roseann gives us a fascinating peek into the difficult choices the network had to make to remain sustainable while also being affordable.
The most important thing was and still is to understand what women truly need and remove the barriers.
Reflecting a diversity of voices in the economy and business sphere
Roseann shares a fascinating conversation she had with five senior business women around the corporation tax a few years ago. At the end of a deep conversation, they agreed that the thing that would have the most impact for business in Northern Ireland was education, especially primary school.
She says "The lads were looking at corporation tax, but on the other side the women were taking a much longer view. And their voice wasn't reflected in the wider business community."
The same challenges and opportunities as the guys - but a lack of networks and role models
The key benefit that WIBNI focuses on is to offer its members more and more women to meet, and more role models to draw inspiration from. Everything that WIBNI does centers around that: Roseann explains how WIBNI constantly thinks about what women need, especially if they can't come to the network's events.
WIBNI offers many other ways of keeping in touch and benefitting from a membership, to reflect all the different phases and situations in a woman's life, especially the transitions - like going on maternity leave or returning to work after taking time to care for your family.
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More about the tremendous power of networking and how to network effectively over at The Positive Economist blog.