The International Business Women’s Conference opened on Tuesday, 13th May at Belfast’s Waterfront Hall. Hosted by Women in Business NI, over 500 delegates gathered for a packed programme of networking, keynote addresses, panel discussions and business master classes aimed at inspiring, empowering and unlocking potential and, ultimately, driving economic growth.
Showing their support and delivering the opening address alongside Kate Marshall, Chair of Women in Business NI, were Junior Ministers Jonathan Bell MLA and Jennifer McCann MLA, OFMDFM.
Inspiring from the outset, our first keynote address came from Entrepreneur in Residence with Dell INC and US media personality Ingrid Vanderveldt. Ingrid encouraged the audience to ‘do what you say you are going to do’ and reminded us, ‘no dream is too big!’.
Carla Busazi, Editor in Chief, Huffington Post UK tasked the delegates to ‘find success on your own terms’. Finally, Julie Meyer, entrepreneur, investor and MD, Ariadne Capital invited us all to visit ‘Entrepreneurship Country’.
Through panel discussions and questions from the floor, delegates looked at the business case for improving gender diversity. Echoing Hilary Clinton’s thoughts on gender equality; “Not only is it the right thing to do, evidence proves it’s the smart thing to do.”, expert panellists highlighted that gender diversity can improve productivity and business performance and therefore should be considered an economic imperative for all economies.
Northern Ireland’s economic potential was also discussed and debated by influential members of the private and public sector, including Ellvena Graham, Head of Ulster Bank Northern Ireland.
The dynamic programme also gave delegates the opportunity to attend a choice of masterclasses, focusing on opportunities for individuals, their companies and the wider economy. Dr Anita Sands, Symantec, urged attendees to ‘balance the ledger of life’ and encouraged self awareness and knowledge of your value proposition.
The day was rounded off at the Lord Mayor’s Civic Reception, where delegates enjoyed a wonderful evening of Northern Irish hospitality, culture and cuisine- all in the beautiful surroundings in Belfast City Hall.