by Elizabeth Harrin (London)
Last week, Gwen Rhys, founder of Women in the City, unveiled a new Lifetime Achievement Award at the launch event for the Annual Women in the City Lunch and Awards 2009.
The venue for the launch was the impressive London campus of The University of Chicago Booth School of Business, which was the first ever university to award a PhD in business to a woman, back in 1929. Tucked in amongst iconic city landmarks, the university is a hub of activity for graduate and executive education program.
As senior executive women from finance, law, consultancy, insurance and other fields stood in the welcoming lounge area, sipped bucks fizz and tucked into breakfast canapés, Gwen explained her ambitious plans for the Women in the City network over the next few years. Women in the City is a dynamic organization which aims to raise the profile of senior level professional business women working in London’s business hubs – the City, Canary Wharf and extending into the West End – and the impact they have in leading teams, developing talent, supporting the progress of women in the wider business world, and contributing to the economy. Originally launched in 2003 as a one-off lunch, Women in the City now offers a range of services and products to UK and international audiences and hosts an awards scheme which is endorsed by major UK professional bodies.
Gwen’s plans for the network include a conference, a bursary for women and expanding the awards further to potentially include a ‘Rising Star’ award to support younger women working in the city. Another part of the expansion is the introduction of the new Lifetime Achievement award which begins this year.
Gwen said, “I am delighted to announce our new Lifetime Achievement Award today and hope it will bring encouragement to others in what are difficult times for many in the city. The Women in the City Lifetime Achievement Award recognizes the dedication and service that many women give throughout the whole of their careers.”
Gwen, a Freeman of the City of London and a female Liveryman, pointed out that women make 80% of purchasing decisions and that our contribution to the economy and the workforce in a difficult economic climate is important.
After Gwen’s presentation, 2008 Woman of Achievement winner Amanda Blanc, Chief Executive of Towergate Partnership’s UK Broking Division, took to the podium to talk about what winning had meant for her.
One of the key messages from her address was that winning the award had not only meant great prizes, but had also opened doors to a variety of networking opportunities and the chance to meet some incredible people. She also pointed out that leadership was the reason that some companies do well and others don’t do so well. Under her leadership, Towergate now has 6 female Managing Directors, and although Amanda acknowledged that they still had some way to go, the progress Towergate has shown in such a short period of time is inspiring.
The networking continued after the speeches, and those in attendance also had the chance to meet some of the wide variety of people present. Speaking to Gwen once she had stepped down from the podium, she said that women often have the experience of networking in their own sector and Women in the City is an opportunity to meet people in other industries. It’s this breadth that gives the awards, and the network surrounding them, such quality and
Nominations for the awards open on June 1, 2009, so if you are, or know of, a senior woman working in the City, Canary Wharf or the West End, have a look at the Women in the City website for all the details and book out November 27th for the annual lunch and awards ceremony.