Inspiring Women Create Inspired Women

The Lane Agency • 8th Mar 2016

Our Laners are at different stages of their lives, with different hopes, dreams and ambitions but all of them are in a position to follow those and to achieve them. We want to celebrate that and to recognise the achievements of the women who have helped to make that possible.


Ali Findlay, Managing Director

I continue to be inspired by Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg.  Recently having lost her husband, she is a woman who believes that it’s no crime to share emotion, for people to understand you have a personal life and are entitled to it, and that being there for your children when they need you can actually make you a more rounded professional at work.

As a business leader and mother of two girls, I have three favourite quotes from Sheryl: 

“I think now is our time. My mother was told by everyone that she had two choices: She could be a nurse or a teacher. The external barriers now are just so much lower. If we start acknowledging what the real issues are, we can solve them. It’s not that hard.

At The Lane we are doing everything we can to eradicate any barriers – perceived or real.  I thoroughly believe it is our time – a time for young women today to compete on a level playing field and aspire to life goals as well as professional goals.

The second is this one.  

Endless data show that diverse teams make better decisions. We are building products that people with very diverse backgrounds use, and I think we all want our company makeup to reflect the makeup of the people who use our products. That’s not true of any industry really, and we have a long way to go.” 

If your organisation has diverse audiences for their products or services, why would you think you would reach them with a one-sided team – diverse teams do make better decisions, and diversity can come in many forms, we just need to let it thrive.  Women leaders who make themselves heard should not be labelled as aggressive, which takes me to Sheryl quote no 3, “Leadership is not bullying and leadership is not aggression. Leadership is the expectation that you can use your voice for good. That you can make the world (or an organisation) a better place.”  

Go on girls #LeanIn, #ThisGirlCan and did.

Ria Dunlop, Digital Media Planner

One of the many women who inspire me is Rosa Parks.

“… All I was doing was trying to get home from work” as we all do Monday to Friday each week, however the fact that such extreme segregation existed is beyond me. Why should she give up her seat on the bus because a white ‘superior’ person walked on? Yes to allow an elderly, disabled or pregnant person a seat but for someone just because of the colour of their skin?

The fact that she stood (sat) her ground and showed what she believed in for the greater good and wouldn’t allow herself to be bullied is inspiring.

Courage, bravery and passion are the words that spring to mind and values I believe every person should hold deep. No one is better than anyone else.

Julie Roberts, Account Director

An inspiring woman for me is someone who debunks myths and stereotypes and gives women the visibility they deserve.  For me, that person is Kathryn Parsons, founder and co-owner of digital start up Decoded. 

Kathryn is a British tech entrepreneur, who set up Decoded to increase digital literacy – offering code in a day and tech in a day courses; people arrive having never coded anything and leave with their own app, developed using HTML, CSS and Javascript programming languages.  She was named “Ten women in tech you need to meet” by the Guardian in 2013 and the Inspiring 50 organisation named her one of the “fifty most inspiring women in European Tech” in 2015.  Her vision is to “teach the world to code.”

She set up Decoded with 3 co-founders in 2011 and self-funded it.  I think that’s a really brave move – to take a risk and put your own money into a business that is untested and have no idea will succeed or not.  They have recently expanded to New York and Sydney so it’s a risk that’s paid off!

What’s really inspiring though, is her work with the NextGen Skills campaign.  This campaign aims to teach children how to code.  I think it demonstrates her progressive attitude.  Woman are hugely under-represented in the technology industry and I believe teaching coding to children and positioning it as ‘another language to learn’ will help develop skills and capabilities on a level playing field before classroom gender stereotyping kicks in.

Hopefully this will not just address under-representation, but will also help drive the UK forward in technology and engineering.

Kathryn Parsons shows it’s not always about trail blazing but about having belief in your own ideas and the confidence and bravery to take that forward regardless of the industry you operate in.

Emily Liddle, Senior Account Executive

J.K. Rowling provided me with wonderfully inspiring heroes in her Harry Potter book series (a childhood favourite) but it’s her role as a woman and a mother that makes her a feminine hero. 

Living on the poverty line in the early 90’s, she raised her daughter on £70 a week in tiny flat in Edinburgh. She’s overcome some adversity – like most of us do – and this is part of why she is so admirable. Despite continual setbacks and struggles, she crafted her first novel at the age of 32 and became a global phenomenon.

I remember reading the Harry Potter book series (I’ve only read it 7 times!) and finding so many of the female characters empowering – from Hermione Granger to Molly Weasley; Rowling’s tales of victory are littered with inspirational female figures.

What I love about J.K. Rowling is that she’s not an inspiration because she’s beautiful or can sing or dance. She’s inspiring because she wrote a story that captured the world and everyone can celebrate this.  Harry Potter aside, J.K. Rowling inspires me because she didn’t give up her dream, she kept on going and didn’t let anyone stop her. She proved that no matter what you want to achieve, if you have the imagination and the drive, you really can do it!

Iris Winter, Web Developer

My hero is my grandma who sadly passed away last June at the age of 93. She was born before WWII and worked as a nursery nurse during the war. During the war – and especially afterwards – she learned to live from nothing.

They had a wee house with a large garden and my grandma would make the most amazing dishes from everything that grew in the garden. She learned to be happy with nothing and she kept this up until she died.

It has amazed me how in all that time I have known her she never seemed to want much. She lived in a single room in a care home for the past 15 years and tried to save every penny of her tiny pension so that she would be able to leave us some money when she died. For birthday presents she asked for the family to come visit her and sing songs. She loved music.

Having her family around her and singing made her the happiest person ever and I really do believe she was never envious of material things. She bought new clothes once a year and always took the left over jam tubs from breakfast to save them from being thrown away. When we would visit her she would always give us a fiver to buy some sweets 🙂

I think now the world is very different and I cannot claim to be like this. I enjoy shopping, new clothes, holidays and so on but she inspires me to be happy with what I have.

Siobhan Waddell, Account Manager

Nadiya Hussain, winner of the GBBO 2015 is an inspiration to me; someone who taught herself most of her baking skills from recipe books and YouTube. Throughout the Great British Bake-off 2015 there was a lot of speculation regarding the BBC being ‘too politically correct’ in having people from many different backgrounds and cultures as contestants – for someone who needed a big push and a lot of encouragement from her family to go on the show, this must have knocked Nadiya’s confidence. Because of this, the dedication she displayed to prove that she was a worthy contestant and deserved her place on the show was very inspiring.

You could see the passion and love Nadiya had for baking through her determination – over the course of the series she believed in herself more and more from the support and comments from the judges, but also from the support of the nation. It’s incredible what you feel you can achieve through support and determination – it has really inspired me to keep working at the things I love and believe in myself.

Nadiya’s speech when she was announced winner of GBBO 2015 tugged at the heartstrings of people across Britain and likely inspired many people to go out there do what they love and believe in too:

“I’m never gonna put boundaries on myself ever again. I’m never gonna say I can’t do it. I’m never gonna say ‘maybe’. I’m never gonna say ‘i don’t think i can.’ I can and I will.”

Jaimie Bell, Digital Project Manager

It’s no surprise that my inspirational woman for IWD is someone based in fashion, but in this case it is not so much the fashion which I admire but the approach and thinking of Natalie Massenet in the creation of the ecommerce site Net-a-Porter. She saw a gap in the market to take the traditional editorial magazine into an online format where form and function complement beautifully. With a simple click, users can buy the most coveted apparel from designers all over the world.

Massenet listened to the market as customers would phone asking for clothing published in the magazine she worked for which weren’t available or easily accessible. This sparked an idea and so began the set up of Net-a-Porter. With every start up there is a massive risk; the risk of doing it wrong – risk of failing. Net-a-Porter began as the dotcom bubble was bursting so the potential for failure was high but Massenet believed in her offering and made it work. From the UI, to the products, fast delivery and black sturdy boxes wrapped in ribbon and filled with tissue paper – She had brought an offering to the market like no other.

Her dedication and venture into the unknown is an inspiration to all.  Even in the overcomplicated and techy world we live in today – the basics remain the same… listen, learn and adapt.

Jade Stewart, Account Manager

J.K. Rowling is a woman who inspires me. Her story is well known and many talk about her inspirational ‘Rag to Riches’ life but for me I am most inspired by her imagination. When I heard that she got the idea for the Harry Potter series while on a delayed train from Manchester to London I thought how easy it would have been to let go of that idea and carry on with the day to day, but she never let go.
She wasn’t a professional novelist or renowned in the field but she had the determination and passion to follow her imagination. To me she is an example that you can do anything you set your mind to no matter what situation you are in – you just need to believe in yourself.

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