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Every year, colleagues from CPM UK are delighted to be invited to attend the Omniwomen Summit, bringing together people from all of the Omnicom agencies. This year, along with other colleagues Michelle Stead attended. We got 15 minutes with her to find out more about the day, and her key take-outs from the speakers…
Michelle, what were your perceptions of the summit ahead of attending?
I’d heard so many great things from colleagues who had attended the Omniwomen Summit before, so knew it was going to be a great day full of energy! I went with an open-mind but was very excited to know I was spending International Women’s Day at an event filled with likeminded individuals from across the Omnicom agencies, who all felt passionate about empowering women in the workplace. I was really looking forward to hearing from women who had been successful in their own careers and taking advice and learnings from their journeys that I could apply to my own.
What was the theme of the day?
The theme was all around supporting and celebrating diverse paths to leadership. We heard from a wide range of speakers including Ruth Hunt Chief Executive of Stonewall, Sophie walker Former Leader of The Women’s Equality Party and Sophia Thakur – Award Winning Poet. Each of them have been on their own really interesting and different journeys – successful in their own right. It was really interesting to hear their points of view, the challenges they have faced on their way to the top and how they overcame these and used them to their benefit.
What breakout sessions did you choose?
I chose ‘Cracking Confidence’ with Alison Chadwick which was an interactive workshop providing techniques on how to crack confidence from the inside out and from the outside in. The session looked to help me use my natural strengths to tackle situations that feel challenging and make friends with the inner critic who can sometimes stop me in my tracks. I left the workshop armed with immediately usable tips and tools that will help me look as well as feel more confident in the future.
The second breakout session I picked was called ‘Making your words work for you’ with Sophia Thukur. After seeing her present on the main stage earlier on in the day, I was super-excited to learn more from the talented artist. This session was aimed at forcing myself to tap into my potential, learn how to approach problems with creative solutions and use confidence exercises specifically looking at posture, tone, pace and poise.
Both of the sessions left me feeling empowered and motivated with key learnings that I can now apply to my day job and support in making me the best version of myself.
What was the session that resonated the most with you and why?
I really enjoyed the ‘Breaking The Silence’ session which included a panel of Lorraine Jennings (Director of Services & Talent, NABS), Sean Betts (MD, Annalect), Jessica Geary (Senior Digital Media Director, RAPP) and Claire Sanderson (Editor in Chief Women’s Health). The sessions focussed on the individual mental health and wellbeing struggles that the panel had faced, and how they had overcome these challenges, and used the experiences to positive effect. The session was really open and honest and it was moving to see such senior colleagues talk about their personal struggles. It demonstrated that the path to success is not easy, and that we all need to do more to drive awareness – and open up about how we are feeling. With mental health being so topical at the moment I found it beneficial that the panel touched on this subject and took away lots of ways in which I can make a difference within my workplace to recognise the signs of any colleagues who may need someone to talk to, and what I can do to create a safe environment for individuals to open up.
After attending such an empowering event, what would your advice now be to your female colleagues?
This is a hard one as there was so much brilliant advice I took from the event but what really struck a chord with me was that it’s important to know and accept yourself, to be confident and comfortable with who you are and stay true to yourself on your journey to success. It’s vital to understand what it is you value, what are your strengths and keep true to them ALWAYS! Lastly and mostly importantly – don’t let the inner critic stop you from putting yourself out there, trying new challenges and getting you to where you want to be.
An introduction to Omniwomen
Omniwomen UK + Allies was initially set up 5 years ago with the goal to look at how as an organisation OMNICOM could increase the number, seniority and influence of women in leadership roles across the company. Since establishing, the Omniwomen Team have supported in getting more women into senior roles with 48% of Omnicom’s senior leadership now being female. But not one to stagnate, the Omniwomen UK + Allies Team want to do more and are making the commitment to enable women from all backgrounds to fulfil their potential and this year, are focussing their efforts on supporting and celebrating diverse paths to leadership. Every year Omniwomen UK + Allies hold a Leadership Summit bringing together around 300 colleagues from across the wider UK agencies all passionate about equality, diversity and inclusion and I was lucky enough to attend this year’s event on International Women’s Day.