Today Breakthrough Women celebrated International Women’s Day in Kent at the beautiful The Orangery Maidstone and we were fortunate to be supported by IOD Kent branch and FSB Kent. This year’s International Women’s Day theme was #BeBoldForChange.
Kent’s Women in Business community are well versed in bold action. Last week saw the Kent Women in Business Awards with record numbers of applicants. Today’s Breakthrough Women event saw over 80 women participating and supporting International Women’s Day.


The World Economic Forum predicts that the gender gap is unlikely to close entirely until 2186, that is 169 years away. This is too long to wait and so we want to be part of that change.
Today’s event encouraged meaningful celebration of women’s success and support for those aspiring to achieve higher. Through everyone’s targeted action we can all start to make a difference, no matter how small.
Breakthrough Women & International Women’s Day provide an important opportunity for action and awareness that can drive greater change for women. We know that visibility and awareness do drive that positive change so celebrating the success of women and helping other women to succeed is essential.


It was therefore brilliant to see all 80 women at the start of the event, networking and collaborating and having fun.
Susannah Schofield kicked off the day by introducing the new look Kent Women in Business Magazine. Through the magazine, Susannah will support and celebrate the incredible enterprises of Kent’s Women.
The first speaker of the day was Jill Pay former Seargeant at Arms of the House of Commons. She is a founder of the Pink Shoe Club and currently leading the development of the UK Economic Blueprint for Women. Jill talked about her career from Business Manager to Mum to Head Office Keeper and culminating with her Seargent at Arms position in 2008 to 2012., often ‘requiring a backbone of steel’. Shoes are definitely are theme with Jill, always now sporting her fabulous pink shoes and ensuring she had black patent heels with silver buckle for her ceremonial duties at the House of Commons. Being the first woman to take the post of the 600-year-old role she got to design her own ceremonial dress. I loved the fact that she could embrace her femininity as part of that and not have to dress like one of the boys.
Next up was Sue Nelson of Breakthrough Funding speaking about behaviour economics. It was a brilliant presentation that turned on its head some of the traditional marketing advice we regularly receive. We all often ask questions about our clients but very often they are not the right questions and so thus we make incorrect assumptions. Competing behaviours and preferred behaviours were aspects many of us in the room had not fully considered previously for our marketing.
Our final speaker was Susie Barrie, Master of Wine and presenter on Saturday Kitchen. Susie also shared her career journey from actress to mum to TV presenter to Master of Wine, one of only 118 worldwide. Like many women Susie felt that working in a predominantly make dominated world that she had to really prove her expertise and hence became a Master of Wine in 2009. We were then luck enough to get to do a little wine tasting ourselves, a cheeky Sauvignon Blanc with top tips as to how to taste and importantly enjoy wine more. I for one didn’t think I could enjoy wine more that I already do, but I know now exactly how to make more of the experience.
A very yummy lunch was served by The Orangery but it didn’t stop the buzz in the room. It was brilliant to see everyone chatting, swapping business cards, moving tables to make introductions and generally having a great time.
Being part of the Breakthrough Women team is such a privilege. Having the opportunity to create the supportive environment to encourage women to network and support each other is fantastic. Women can lack confidence in many environments and fear of failure or looking silly can often hold them back from taking action. Our aim with the Breakthrough events is to create an informal atmosphere so that women feel able to ask for help and to ask for advice from others who may have been there and done it.
I for one had an incredible International Women’s Day and hope that you all did too!