Wednesday 8th March marks International Women’s Day across the world; celebrating women in business and women in general.
We spoke to 7 leading business women #inExeter to find out who their famous and personal role models are.
Kelly Johnson – Bike Shed Theatre – Director of Strategy and Communication
“Famous – Osa Johnson. One of the first women to learn how to fly, she was a filmmaker who documented her travels around the world. I love her sense of adventure, her ‘why not? ‘ attitude and the fact that she rocked a glamorous 1930’s look whilst in a jungle in Borneo.
Not famous – It’s a cliché to say but it has to be my Mum. She’s always been an independent woman with her own business but more than that she’s always been there, interested and supportive. There’s massive value in the often under-rated acts that women make every day – listening, guiding quietly and with kindness. “
Lucie Simic – Exeter Dental Centre – General Manager
“Journalist Kate Adie; she really paved the way for women in journalism and as a young girl watching her reports from war zones she showed me that women could do anything! My non-famous role model is tough, as there are so many amazing women I have the pleasure to know; but I really admire Lucy Kennaway of the Escot Estate. She and her husband inherited the estate and have worked hard to diversify and make it a thriving business.”
Claire Burnett – Chococo – Co-founder
“Famous: Ellen Macarthur the round the world solo sailor – she is so inspiring as I have also sailed around the world but on a yacht in a crew of 14 and I take my hat off to her for coping with all the challenges she faced on her own – when things go wrong in the Southern Ocean, you need several pairs of arms and legs to sort them out! Non-famous: my mum. She instilled in me a love of food and interesting flavours. As a child she used to send me to school with a thermos of leftover risotto for my lunch and was feeding us polenta and blinis before anyone had heard of such things! We also used to make chocolates at Christmas when I was young and so I blame my mum for being one of the key inspirations for the creation of Chococo.”
Lucy Evans – ABM Facilities Services Ltd – Security Officer at Princesshay Shopping Centre
“Poet Laureate Dame Carol Ann Duffy springs to mind immediately. The World’s Wife is an amazing poetry collection. Also Sylvia Plath whose poetry resonates well beyond her untimely death. Michaela Smith, my housemate, is the most inspiring non-famous woman I know. She makes race cars and puts most engineers I’ve met to shame. I’d also like to mention some women that should have been famous but were written out of history: Ada Lovelace, Rosalind Franklin and Helen Sharman. Ada invented the first algorithm to be used by Babbage’s Analytical Machine and ought to be revered as the founding mother of computer programming. Rosalind’s X-ray diffraction photograph known as Photo 51 was used to evidence the double helical structure of DNA after it was shown to James Watson by Maurice Wilkins without her permission. Watson and Crick were therefore able to claim primacy over the discovery before she could publish her own findings. Helen Sharman was the first British astronaut to orbit the Earth, and not Major Tim Peake. The latter missed out on that accolade by a quarter of a century. Major Peake was, in fact, the first strictly professional British astronaut. I ruminate on these oversights and see them as cheeky evidence that the women who write history, do so only as placeholders for the time that chaps catch up.”
Ellie Greensmith – ELK Salon – Owner and Director
“My famous role model within my industry is Alli Webb. She is not widely known in the U.K. seven years ago she set up a Blowdry business from the back of her car in the USA and now she has 57 Blowdry salons and a $70 million business. I love her ‘Drybar’ branding, her style and how she had diversified her business.
My non-famous role model is my friend Marie. Over the years she has demonstrated an abundance of positivity and mental strength through huge personl life and health challenges. I admire her ability to relentlessly maintain a great attitude whilst she and her husband run two businesses and raise a beautiful family of three children. “
Sara Paleschi – Sara Paleschi Hair Design – Owner
“My non famous role model is my daughter, she achieves everything she aims for without fail and is also the most amazing mother I know. My famous one would be Ellen DeGeneres, a strong funny intelligent woman who is a strong supporter of everyone, male, female, gay, straight, all religions creeds and colours, and who ultimately seems to be incredibly kind which I believe has become very under-rated. “
Abi Williamson – INK Tattoo and Piercing Studio – Tattoo Artist
“I think there have been many famous female role models throughout history, and in present times, who have helped women today to achieve what they want to do and proven that women can do the jobs they never thought they could. My mum would be at the top of my list non-famous list as she’s always told me to be myself and do the best I can in whatever I choose to do.”
This was part of a bigger feature for the latest issue of Exeter Living, click here to read more from these inspiring women