Attending The Guardian's 'Forward Women' Event

Being the dedicated Journalism student that I am, I first stumbled across The Guardian's 'Forward Women' event whilst trawling through the 'Women in Leadership' section of The Guardian Online.

The FREE opportunity to meet, learn from and drink wine with brilliantly successful women was impossible to miss, despite 'obligations' from Uni. I somehow managed to push-past the *awful guilt* that comes with missing multiple lectures pretty soonish after walking through the doors of The Guardian, but coincidentally the day proved to be entirely 'worth it's weight in work'. 

A video posted by Milly Vincent (@okmilly) on

Of the 12 wonderful women who's wisdom filled our ears for the afternoon there was one in particular who's words continue ring in my mind...

Vanessa Vallely
Managing Director at WeAreTheCity

Vanessa is a straight talking natural leader. Having once been a self-professed 'ball breaker' earlier in her career, with scraped back hair and a pin striped suit, she described to us how she unknowingly fell into the stereotype by emulating the men around her. When she came to the realisation a few years later that the 'facade' she had created for herself had stripped the natural strength of her femininity from her character which consequentially had had detrimental effect on her career, she decided to re-embrace her whole personality, femininity included. Vanessa, now successfully running her own company WeAreTheCity, which was a product of her decision to be herself as a women in business, believes the importance of a role model or mentor is upmost as 'you can't be what you can't see'. 

Here are the main points I want to remember from her speech:

1. 80% is good enough 
Don't run yourself ragged, career isn't everything in life. Always keep something for yourself.

2. Perseverance and Persistence
As her nan said 'if you want your boat to come in you've got to swim out to it'.

3. Get yourself a mentor
It's so much easier than doing it alone. Most women in positions of power want to help bring other women up to the top with them.

4.'Networking is key'
Connect in real life and then follow up. LinkedIn & Twitter are very important in doing this. 

5.Value your femininity
It gives you strengths such as emotional intelligence that should not be overlooked.

6. 'Don't get caught up in the doing'
 Yes doing your job is important but the networking events and parties can be equally as important for furthering your career.

Here's another speech Vanessa did for Ted Talks:

After a couple of complimentary glasses and a jolly dance with my new aspirational friends, (Gemma Cairney was DJ-ing :O), I made it home full of energy. Fuelled by encouraging words of the influential women who seemed to genuinely care for the young women below them on the career ladder I decided to act on their words and set about making my three year life plan as advised by wonder woman Vanessa Vallely.

Incase you're wondering, my three year plan goes something like this:

  • Get my children's story books published
  • Grow my reputation as a Journalist & Writer through freelance work & blogging
  • Intern whilst at University in hope of a Journalism job on graduation
  • Make London my home
  • Travel before graduation
  • Learn Italian

Whilst I speak with complete naivety as i'm yet to have a professional job, I had somehow convinced myself through previously meeting several powerful women in Media, who seemed to have fully adopted the 'ball breaker' stereotype (fine if that's truly who you are), that women in positions of power just weren't as nice as normal women. This event, thankfully, proved me wrong. They are usually normal women with all their strengths.

 The reoccurring mantra of the event: 

Be Yourself, femininity is not weakness.