JW Filshill had cause to celebrate recently, when Sue Mann (pictured centre), the wholesaler’s Group Marketing Manager won the Best Newcomer of the Year category at the first Women in Wholesale Star Awards.
Mann’s video campaign for National Women’s Day was described by the judges as a “brilliant initiative”. “Sue has been a real catalyst in the development of the business,” they said.
The awards ceremony – which saw three other trailblazing women and wholesaler JJ Foodservice recognised – rounded-off the fourth conference for the Women In Wholesale initiative.
More than 200 delegates gathered for the day-long event in central London (10 October 2019).
This year’s conference, themed around boosting personal and business performance, saw a diverse range of speakers and panel discussions, all with a unique industry perspective.
NatWest’s Head of Tech, Neil Bellamy, kicked off the day with a talk on the importance of technology in enabling a “liquid workforce” which is more agile, project-based and ahead of the disruptors.
Other speakers included Costco’s HR & Training Development Manager Dominic Flanagan who challenged delegates to address their unconscious bias, while Budweiser’s Convenience Sales Director Jessica Markowski championed the brewer’s emphasis on people as its most important asset.
Phil Hoskins, HR Director at exporter Ramsden International emphasised the need to be succinct and to set goals to succeed, and Carlsberg’s Account Controller Helen Rimmer tackled impostor syndrome.
Changing sector attitudes since the WiW initiative launched were highlighted by Laura Joyce, Client Manager at HIM & MCA insight, who partnered with WiW to reveal exclusive research. Findings showed that while flexible working has been embraced by the sector compared to 2017, lack of respect at work is still seen as an issue. Over half (53%) of females also emphasised the need for better career development.
In a session themed around skills, Central England CEO and former Spar Managing Director Debbie Robinson described her 25-year career journey. She also shared her passion for social justice initiatives such as Co-op’s work with Fareshare to provide holiday-time meals to children. “We need to be constantly relevant, inclusive and diverse,” she said.
Interactive sessions were led by Esther Shearwood from The Gap Partnership, who gave the audience a crash course in negotiation. Meanwhile, resilience trainer Carol Dakin focused on strength, patience, emotional intelligence and purpose as key resilience-building attributes.
This year’s guest speaker, executive coach Carol Glover, highlighted the need for employers to embrace mavericks who think differently within their organisation. “Being true to myself has been key to everything I’ve ever done,” she said, before giving delegates tips on time management that allow creativity to flourish at work.
In two lively panel sessions, the first chaired by the FWD’s James Bielby and the second by the ACS’s James Lowman saw a total of eight industry representatives exchange tips for driving careers and businesses forward and fostering an inclusive workplace culture.
The other award winners included Ramsden International’s Operations Manager Leanne Parkin, who won Inclusive Manager of the Year; Castell Howell’s Sales and Marketing Director Kathryn Jones scooped Woman of the Year; and Pricecheck’s Managing Director Debbie Harrison came away with Leader of the Year. JJ Foodservice took the award for Best Initiative to Attract and Retain Talent.