AGM and Chair’s Report
Wednesday 20th March saw almost 30 of our members and guests gather together for our AGM to review the past year and to have the opportunity to meet our new committee members and hear from incoming Chair, Edith Adam about her plans for the coming months.
It has been a great privilege to have been your Chair over the last 12 months. I have very much enjoyed working alongside our fantastic committee for the benefit of our all our members, and I would like to take this opportunity to thank you for your ongoing support.
In our letters to new members we state that:
It has been my aim as Chair to facilitate the outworking of this mission statement; to encourage, inspire and support our members giving them opportunities to network and showcase their businesses alongside opportunities for personal development and learning.
When I began my year as Chair, I also had two other goals; to redevelop our website; and to overhaul the Business Awards.
Former Chairs, Alison Henderson and Sharron McIntosh, had put aside money for development during their years as Chair and we were able to invest these funds in the redesign of the website.
Clare Dewar, Edith Adam and myself spent some time evaluating the old website and preparing a brief for our website developer Mark Mander from Tayfusion. Mark did a fantastic job of freshening up the look and feel of the website in a way that reflects our Women Ahead branding and current marketing materials. However, a lot of the main improvements were to the content management system, making it easier for our administrators to update the site, add events, generate invoices for membership payments and send out e-newsletters.
Members will also notice improvements in their profile with added functionality allowing them to add social media links and testimonials.
The website was launched on the 1st of November just in time to promote the launch of our 2013 Business Awards.
For some time I have felt that our Business Awards could do with an overhaul; there were some gaps that we could address and I wanted to look at how we could make the application and judging processes easier to manage. Edith Adam and Deborah Miller joined me to completely reassess the awards from the ground up. We sought feedback from former judges and we redeveloped all of the awards with completely new descriptions and criteria.
We also introduced two new awards; one recognising women who work alone - The Independent Woman of the Year Award; and another recognising the achievements of women under 25 who had made an impact in the early years of their career or education; The Young Woman of the Year Award - our leaders of the future if you like!
We rewrote the application and judging procedures and we will be reviewing this all again shortly in light of the recent Business Awards to see where we can make further improvements.
The back-bone of our Women Ahead year has to be our monthly events and I wanted to highlight a few of my favourites;
Our foray into Angus and the MacKays Jam factory was quite an adventure! Owner, Paul Grant hosted a buffet lunch for us and gave an inspirational talk about the growth of the family business, followed by a tour of the factory. Our visit ended with a trip to the factory shop and many of us came home laden with goodies!
In the summer we changed the tone a little for our Cake and Cocktails event; a relaxed networking evening at Heather’s Coffee Shop. We gave everyone a thought-provoking question as they came in which they had to share later in the evening giving everyone an opportunity to say something a little unexpected about their business or career. It felt like a significant evening; people were reluctant to leave at the end which is always a good sign, but also lots of the visitors that evening went on to become members.
In August, the University of Dundee hosted our Women of Historic Dundee eventwith Archivist Kenneth Baxter stepping in at the last minute to give us a most inspirational presentation about those women who have impacted our city. Among them he told us about Mary-Anne Baxter who donated £130,000 to establish the University of Dundee and Margaret Fairly who became Scotland’s first female professor. It left us wondering what our legacy will be?
In December we had our Night at the Museum at MacManus – this included a presentation from Tara Wainright about the new V&A museum alongside a private tour of the Selling Dreams exhibition - 100 years of Fashion Photography.
My aim has been to give our members lots of opportunities to showcase their businesses and venues; this year we have had events at the Invercarse Hotel, West Park Conference Centre, Shaftsbury Lodge, The Blue Marlin and the University of Dundee. Member Rosie O’Hara began our year with a talk about her business NLP Highland, and we also had our Lawyers Showcase, and recently our Health and Beauty Showcase at member Bharti Rajput's Sole Body Soul premises.
For our final event in February we went back to the Invercarse Hotel to hear an inspirational talk from Shona Kane, from Insights, about how they have redeveloped their brand. This was one of our best attended events with 40 businesswomen meeting for the networking lunch. We all took away lots of tips about how to improve our brand and marketing materials.
2013 Women Ahead Business Awards
2013 Business Award Winners with Chair, Wendy Maltman
I can’t talk about our events without mentioning our 2013 Women Ahead Business Awards. We launched our ‘new’ awards with MSP Jenny Marra at the Michelin Athletic Club last November at our Members Showcase event. We also rolled out new branding across all the awards materials.
The launch was really well attended with lots of members taking the opportunity to exhibit and tell us about their businesses. By Christmas I had only 2 or 3 completed applications and was feeling a little nervous. However, I was reassured that ‘most people’ would apply at the last minute and from the beginning of January we stepped up our promotional efforts and did lots of advertising through our social media channels. Over the Christmas holidays we had an article in the Courier promoting the call for entries. I also sent an email message to around 200 local businesses promoting Women Ahead as well as the Business Awards.
By our deadline at the end of January we had 25 finalists who went through to the interview stages.
The awards dinner itself has proved to be one of our most successful events yet. It was well supported by our local business community with 11 sponsors and we had 270 guests with us at the Apex on Saturday the 9th March for the awards ceremony.
We also had support from the Lord Provost Bob Duncan, who sponsored our Civic Reception, and we had MSP Jenny Marra with us to present the Community Woman of the Year Award. We presented six awards in total to some very deserving ladies. However, all our finalists were of a very high standard, very inspirational, and all very deserving of recognition. It was a real honour to host the event and a highlight of my year.
We also gathered over 60 raffle prizes and 14 auction donations from our very generous members and supporters. Along with proceeds from ticket sales we raised over £5000 for our charity Alternatives.
We have put quite a bit of effort throughout the year into raising the profile of Women Ahead and its members. We have done this through our e-newsletters and ever growing mailing list, and our Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter pages. One of our recent posts about the awards dinner had over 1500 views. We have also sent out letters and information to several local businesses and organisations, and built relationships with the business journalists at the Courier. We have seen several members profiled in their Q&A feature.
We have seen a huge increase in membership with over 40 new members subscribing throughout the year taking our total numbers up to almost 80. The new website has made this easier to manage and we have also introduced corporate membership which has impacted our numbers. Heather Langlands, our Membership Secretary, has done an excellent job in the role, engaging with all of our new members, and helping them set up their online profiles.
Association of Scottish Businesswomen
Throughout the year I have had lots of opportunities for engagement with the Association of Scottish Businesswomen and I have been working with the Affiliated Groups Committee to support members of local groups. This has given me an opportunity to work alongside and learn from a number of very inspirational women. I would encourage all of you, who have not yet taken up the opportunity, to join ASB and add your profile to the national website to do so as soon as possible. There are lots of opportunities to get involved and connect with businesswomen across Scotland.
Last year I was involved with the ASB National Business Awards and I was delighted to attend the event at Dynamic Earth in Edinburgh to support four finalists from Women Ahead; Laura Jevons, our Shooting Star winner from the 2012 Business Awards went on to win the Most Enterprising Business Award, and Gemma Ogilvie from Cosmetology won the Employee of the year Award. We hope to put forward some of the winners from our 2013 Women Ahead awards for the ASB awards later this year.
I was also very privileged to attend a women’s networking event at the Scottish Parliament and we hope to be able to invite you all to an ASB reception at the Parliament later this year.
Many of you will also know that our former chair, Alison Henderson, is now Vice President of ASB and she has been very much involved with organising the Women’s Business and Enterprise Conference which is to be held at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Glasgow on the 9th May. This will be a significant event with government engagement and will be jointly hosted by ASB and Women’s Enterprise Scotland. I hope that many of you will take the opportunity to get involved with the event.
It has been great to have the support of Elizabeth Waine and the engagement of our charity Alternatives (Dundee Crisis Pregnancy Centre) this year. Elizabeth told me that they have very much valued the opportunity to share with our members about the work they do here in Dundee. I am delighted to announce that we will be able to make a donation of around £9000 to Alternatives this year. This is a massive achievement for Women Ahead and
I would like to acknowledge our fabulous committee (Alison Henderson,
I would like to particularly thank our treasurer, Elizabeth Shearer for her dedication to the work as she steps down from the committee. Elizabeth has done a great job of managing our accounts and keeping us up to date with her monthly reports. Heather Langlands is going to take over the role as treasurer.
I am also delighted to welcome three new members onto our committee;
It’s been quite a sprint to the finishing line and the last few weeks have gone by in a bit of a blur, however, it is now time for me to pass on the baton to Edith Adam. Edith has her own successful image consultancy business, French Dressing, and she also works part time for Aberdeenshire Council in their records management department. Edith has been a great support to me this year, assisting with the review of the website and the Business Awards redevelopment. She is passionate about business networking and has lots of great ideas for moving Women Ahead forward. I trust that you will support Edith as you have done me. I will be remaining on the Woman Ahead committee in the capacity of Past Chair and will be supporting Edith as she takes on the Chair role.
Finally, I would like to thank you once again for your encouragement and support.
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