I was really looking forward to attending this conference, sharing a room with talented leaders from throughout Northern Ireland and I was not disappointed. As soon as I walked in, I was met with familiar, friendly faces from previous Women In Business events and it was great to catch up!
I took my seat as close to the front as I could and listened to Sarah Travers open the event. The atmosphere was already buzzing.
The first keynote speaker was The Unstoppable Tracy Schmitt. If you have not yet heard of Tracy, please look her up! Tracy gave a warm, witty and at times emotional talk about being born a 4-way amputee and the true determination and grit used, that has rightly earned her number 1 International Motivational Speaker, Best Selling Author, & Decorated Athlete. Tracy told us how to 'Transform an unstoppable you with insight to overcome barriers, uncertainty and FEAR'. As I listened to Tracy I thought of my own attitude and about the importance of keeping it positive. The best advice given was about staying away from negative behaviour. Tracy taught us how to turn NO into KNOW. We can only make ideas work by getting up and trying them. Remarkable, inspiring woman.
Josephine Fairley the co-founder of Green & Black's was next to speak and kindly supplied us all with some delicious chocolate to try. 'Sweet Dreams - One woman's rollercoaster business journey - and lessons learned along the way'. It was fascinating to hear how Josephine and her husband had a plan to market the world’s first organic chocolate. They decided on ‘green’ to represent their environmental ethos and ‘black’ because of the high-quality coco beans used. Josephine pointed out that in the words of Anita Roddick (Founder of The Body Shop) ‘Doing good is good for business.’ The main point that I could really relate to, was when Josephine talked about putting yourself in your customers shoes being a great place to start. This is exactly how we ended up researching and developing the ‘Locum Health & Well-being initiative’ at Keenan Healthcare.
The final keynote talk was given by Chanelle, Lady McCoy, Co-Founder of Chanelle Medical and notably one of Ireland’s most successful businesswomen. Chanelle gave an honest account of how we all experience ‘growing pains’ and how failure is a necessary stepping stone to success. It is about understanding that the bad times are the best times to move ahead. It was interesting to hear how curve balls make you resilient. This is something that I have learned over recent years when planning to scale up Keenan Healthcare. It was refreshing to hear how this is common and it is about analysing our mistakes and what went wrong, so that processes can put in place to ensure they do not happen again. The best advice for me given by Chanelle, was to STAY CURRENT in your marketplace. This is something that we are heavily investing in now, anticipating what will be disturbing our market over the next 3-5 years and planning accordingly.
During the day there were 2 super breakout sessions:
The first was a workshop with Tweeting Goddess Samantha Kelly (The nice people collector!). We were told of the importance of using Twitter well and regularly. Along with giving us tools to help with Twitter, Samantha, a Social Media Strategist, talked about making magic happen on social media and gave an insight into the power of having a strong online community.
The second workshop was with Naomh McElhatton the Founder of SMART Global and She Said Club. Talking about her own journey, Naomh noted that failure is a bruise, not a tattoo. She spoke about how we all need to be content with the point that we are at on our individual journeys. A topic that resonated with me personally was when Naomh mentioned ‘impostor syndrome’. I couldn’t believe that the feeling I had for the first few years of running Keenan Healthcare was actually a thing!! And that other people (many other leaders) experienced the exact same! This discovery was empowering, and I walked out of that workshop with my head held high….. after giving Naomh a hug in appreciation!
The main thread that ran through the day was the transparency, honesty and absolute dedication that these ladies hold. I was truly inspired listening to their very different stories.
I left the conference feeling empowered and motivated. More so than ever before. The possibilities are endless for us at Keenan Healthcare and this is really only the start of our journey.