Our round up of inspiring women 2018

What a wonderful year of inspiration we had in 2018, where we shared the stories of five incredible women; Julie Simpson, Alex Johnson, Jacquetta Gomes, Bethany Hedger and Catherine Grainger all joined our previous inspiring women.

Julie Simpson is the Founder and CEO of ResourceiT Consulting Ltd, an organisation created in 2003 to support technology businesses with accelerated, profitable growth.  They provide business, sales and marketing resources to their clients and have Microsoft as their biggest client. Julie describes herself as having a “thirst for learning” and she loves the part of her job that means she can meet and engage with so many different people at all levels, every day.  Being the youngest of nine children she talks about always having to “fight for my seat at the table and nothing was ever given to me without working for it.”  She shares her way of dealing with setbacks; “I don’t believe you learn much when things go right (as good as that feels).  I feel you learn more when thing go wrong, so for me a set-back or challenge is again an opportunity to learn” and her tips for a successful work/life balance including “having the right support around you”. Julie believes that “anyone can have just about anything they want if they work for it, but should always do it for the right reasons”.

Alex Johnson is the Assistant Chief Fire Officer at South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue Service, she started her career with Derbyshire Fire & Rescue Service at the age of 24. “I never saw another female firefighter from one month to the next there were so few of us. I think it was fair to say the Fire Service wasn’t ready for women at this point; no female facilities on station, no female uniform or PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) and certainly a culture that wasn’t generally ready to accept women readily.” She’s faced her share of setbacks and challenges; “Looking back I was bullied and sexually harassed and I very nearly resigned at one point. So what made me carry on? My love of the job and the knowledge that not everyone held the same beliefs and attitudes as those that were making me miserable.” She advises others to “be yourself and believe in yourself. Of course some people may not want you to get on, but when I look back, I’ve held myself back as much as anyone else has. Don’t think you have to have done everything or ticked all the boxes. You will learn as you go along. Get a mentor, someone you can have honest conversations with and who can offer you support.”

Jacquetta Gomes is the Sangha [Community of Buddhist Monks] Authorized Dhamma Teacher in Theravada Buddhism and Fire Chaplain and she has a BA (Hons) Degree from Durham University and a Postgraduate Diploma and MLS Masters Degree from Loughborough University. She is a member of the SCR Senior Common Room of University College Durham University based in Durham Castle. She credits “Buddhism, determination, mindfulness, persistence, respect and caring for others, sense of humour, sense of self-worth, a thick skin and wonderful support from others” as the strengths and personal attributes that have helped her to succeed and she shares some strong wisdom for other women “you are not perfect and cannot succeed at everything. Failures and mistakes are part of life. Be kind to others and remember they are also not perfect and accept they also make mistakes” and “do not take yourself too seriously. Value yourself and your achievements but do not criticize others efforts.” She ends her story by encouraging us to “support other women and allow them to support you.”

Bethany Hedger is the EMEA Strategic Partner Business Manager at VMware and shares her deeply personal story of struggles in the hopeit inspires others “by giving you the strength to grow and be who you are meant to be”. “I was bullied by both boys and girls at every school I went to. Whether that was a state school, which I attended up until the age of 11, or private school up until the age of 18. I suppose I never fitted in with the status quo, plus, I didn’t have school chums that I knew from a young age who followed me through my later years of schooling. No clique for me. Just lots of character building!” She tells us she is “direct and clear” and always offers a true representation of herself. She believes that “becoming who you are doesn’t ever stop, developing yourself and becoming the best version of you is a life time project.” She has some wonderful advice for other women including “Be yourself, challenge yourself, get rid of the life limiting stories you tell yourself daily as to why you haven’t, can’t or won’t achieve what you want. No one has that power over you, only you. You always have a choice” and her “mirror talk…… out loud “You’ve got this Hedger, you’ve got this! Go get it”!”

Catherine Grainger, our final inspiring woman of 2018 is Novec Brand & Communications Manager for 3M. She’s been with 3M for 18 years and her current role is “Brand & Communications Manager, promoting and developing content for a fantastic range of products under the brand Novec™, across the EMEA region.” She lives with her husband Paul and children Daisy and Tom in Derbyshire. Catherine loves the diversity of both her work and 3M. “I didn’t set out to stay at 3M for so long but there are so many different career paths that can be achieved in one company due to the sheer breadth of our technology platform, and the amount of development opportunities we are offered.” She shares how she has dealt with challenges and setbacks including her toughest challenge of a period of ill-health a few years ago in which she had to have multiple operations over a 2 year period. Her working patterns have changed over the years “I’ve done a combination of part-time and full-time working since having children, having worked a 3, 3.5, 4 and now a 5 day week.” She believes that “women who work part-time tend to be hugely efficient, but often miss out on the social niceties at work like the water-cooler chats and the lunches with colleagues” but says that “whatever works for the individual, I would say do it, and try not to feel guilty about what you’re not doing!” Catherine shares some advice for other women including “use and develop your network. Get to know people wherever you go, and always be approachable, friendly, efficient. Do things for people without looking for anything in return.”


You can read more about our inspiring women from 2018 as well as those we’ve featured in previous years by clicking here. If you would like to feature as an inspiring woman or you know someone who we could talk to please get in touch. We look forward to sharing more and continuing to inspire others in 2019.