Girl power provides a parcel force

By Bespoke Digital Agency

14 Nov 2016

Later this month, Management Today will be holding its annual Inspiring Women in Business conference, and it got us thinking about some of today’s most successful female figures.

Moya Greene, chief executive of Royal Mail, arrived at the organisation in 2010 when it was technically insolvent, had a huge pension deficit, and had just been through three strikes.

However, the first ever woman to head up the 500-year old service turned its fortunes around, by remodelling the business away from its historic mainstay of letter delivery, and creating the most successful parcel handling company in Britain.

Despite her own personal success story, Moya still believes too many women are shying away from taking on high profile roles, largely due to fears of the effect on their families.

Urging women to be more courageous and ‘take on risky jobs ‘, Moya advised women not to be intimidated by the combined challenges of management and motherhood; “Don’t let the worry about your children defeat your ambition. The best jobs I’ve had were the ones I was the most afraid of.”

To emphasise the current gender imbalance of women in the top jobs across the country, Moya is just one of seven female CEOs heading up FTSE 100 organisations. She’s joined by Alison Cooper at Imperial brands, Alison Brittain at Whitbread, Liv Garfield at Severn Trent, Dame Carolyn McCall at easyJet, and Emma Walmsley who’ll be taking up the post at GlaxoSmithKline in 2017.

But as Moya recalls, it hasn’t always been this way, and we only need to look at the war years to prove that huge organisations - including the Royal Mail, could be successfully run by women.

“If you look back at photographs from those days, you’ll realise that the lifeblood of the company was female. By 1941, around 100,000 women were employed in the postal service. They organised cooperatives in their neighbourhoods to make sure their children were looked after while they, quite literally, kept the economy running. They had a lot less help than us and were less educated than we are today - and yet they managed it all.

“But then something happened. In the post-war years, all that skill, initiative and ability went back to the kitchen ….so what is it about our generation that makes us think we can’t do it all too?”

One such source of inspiration is Kate Hulley, another female figure from the industry that’s clearly ‘doing it all’ with great success.

As well as being a mum to three growing children, Kate is also the Managing Director at Boxed Up, a Wigan-based cardboard box manufacturer, who specialise in providing a range of postal boxes that comply with Royal Mail’s sizing guidelines.

Breaking the mould by heading up a business in the traditionally male-dominated manufacturing industry, Kate speaks with great pride about running a company that’s predominantly female-led.

Kate revealed, “Most of the decision-makers here at Boxed Up are now women, which was a bit of a culture shock for the workforce initially. I’ve always been a strong believer in female power though, and all around me, I see examples of women with the strength, intelligence and drive to influence any industry they choose to be in.”

This is something that’s backed up by Moya Greene, who was awarded a pay package of £1.5m earlier this year. She says she’s always had a ‘posse’ of women around her who have supported her, and encouraged her to take those risky roles instead of the ‘easy, clear-sail jobs’. “You need someone who will put their hand in the small of your back and say, "You go, girl! You CAN do that job!"

So whether you’re at the beginning of your career, or eyeing up a seat on the board, it’s well worth looking toward figures such as Moya and Kate within your own organisation.

Kate added, “If you’re thinking of applying for a promotion, or simply considering stepping into a role that’s usually thought about as being in a ‘man’s world’ - pick out a woman you admire in your workplace, and ask to pick her brains. Having a mentor who’s experienced the same challenges as you will put your mind at rest. And who knows, maybe you’ll be the go-to role model for other young women to approach in years to come.” With so much inspiration in the world of parcels alone, there’s nothing to stop aspiring businesswomen from being the next digital pioneer or retail supremo. And whether it’s box manufacturing or becoming the CEO of a national institution, it’s clear that bright young women are the future of British business.

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