Shaping The Future Of the North
* This post is sponsored by Northern Powerhouse Business Summit part of Great Exhibition of the North
Fresh from the news that she has been awarded an MBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List 2018 for services to gender equality, and ahead of the Northern Powerhouse Business Summit in July, we speak to Simone Roche MBE about what she hopes the outcomes and impact of the event will be.
Simone created Northern Power Women, a collaborative campaign to accelerate gender diversity from the North of England, in 2015, aiming to transform cultures of organisations, harness all talent and engage with men and women to drive gender balance.
You Are Successful In What You Do But What Is It That Makes You Want To Support Others?
As a school leaver, thirty years ago I found very little advice and information about careers and not much has changed. There isn’t such a thing as a job for life anymore and we are looking at people having six or seven career changes, whether that is jobs or sectors over their working life. We are signposting and celebrating the different roles out there to help accelerate gender diversity.
How Are You Achieving This?
It’s something I quote quite often but ‘you can’t be what you can’t see’. London is a great global city but the North too has so many great people. Some still live and work in the North, others have taken their careers elsewhere, but they are still from the North and we should be celebrating their achievements. I’m an official supporter of the Northern Powerhouse and our approach is to change the visibility, highlighting role models from all backgrounds, demographics and geographical locations. Sharing and telling stories that will inspire – so that the North can be at the forefront of industrial strategy, including in cutting-edge sectors such as digital, energy, advanced manufacturing and health.
How Important Is It To Have A Diverse Range Of Speakers At Business Events?
It is vital. If we continually have the same old panels, we’ll only have the same old conversations. Mixing it up, being disruptive in a positive way enables new debates to happen and we need the reach to be beyond the room. It’s really important that the Northern Powerhouse Business Summit reflects what the north is made of, so its great to see amazing role models being given a platform including many of our Power List including Collette Roche (not related!!) and Alice Webb as well as the NW metro Mayors who are extremely supportive of our campaign. All who are helping to build the North into a globally-recognised powerhouse of economic activity.
The Impact Of The Summit Is Not Just What Happens On The Day, But Also The Impact On People Beyond The Room. How Will This Happen?
With government support it is those who live, work and lead in the North who need to be driving change. We need to encourage and motivate people to join in the debate whether that’s online, on blogs like this, in their own forums or by absorbing media and information. We need to give them a platform, a voice and be proud of their achievements, to inspire them to take their own actions.
The Great Exhibition of the North itself will inspire people – seeing the venues that have inspired innovation and epitomise the innovative spirit of the North, from the Mining Institute, Stephenson’s Rocket to modern day magic at the Centre for Life.
Everyone can do something to influence and drive change. What we don’t need is another talking shop. We are looking for proactive collaborations, bringing organisations together and continuing the debate. No matter what gender we are, it’s something we all have a responsibility to do. The impact of this will be felt long after the event itself and will be part of the legacy of the Great Exhibition of the North.
The Northern Powerhouse Business Summit is the central business event during the Great Exhibition of the North. Taking place 4-6 July in NewcastleGateshead, the Summit will provide businesses from across the North with learning, networking and commercial opportunities, as well as shine a spotlight on innovative start-ups and trailblazing scale-ups that call the North their home. Simone Roche will be part of a panel discussing power and diversity, during the Northern Powerhouse: Great Futures day (Friday 6th July).
The Northern Powerhouse Business Summit is supported by the European Regional Development Fund and is free to attend. Further details of the programme, and tickets, can be found online.