A NUMBER of the UK’s most high-profile businesswomen (and men) will speak at a dynamic one-day conference as part of the International Festival for Business 2014 (IFB 2014).

Women Inspiring the Economy, which takes place on Wednesday 18th June, will feature keynote speakers, panel sessions and interactive workshops, as well as targeted networking time. It is aimed at women at all stages of  the career ladder across all industries, discussing how to get to the top and stay there as well as looking at the challenges and opportunities presented to women in business in the current economy.

Jenny Willott MP, Minister for Women & Equalities, DCMS will address the delegates during the conference.

Major shifts in recent decades mean that women are increasingly occupying very senior positions in business, and yet many businesses have been slow to catch up in the way they sell to them. A.T. Kearney who produced a report* ‘Rise of the female economy’ will debate this during the conference with key business leaders.

The conference will set the challenge for all those attending to answer the question ‘How are you going to play your part in inspiring the economy”. Delegates will be asked to pledge 2 things they will do to grow the economy by completing postcards which will then be posted back to them 6 weeks later as a reminder to put their learnings into practice!

Maggie O’Carroll, CEO of the Women’s Organisation said “In the United States women’s businesses have been effectively supported starting and creating their own enterprises  and are now generating over $1.3 trillion in revenues and employing nearly 8 million people –UK plc really does need to support women entrepreneurs and the sky will really be the limit.”   

Sarah Wood, COO, unruly and IFB Ambassador  "There are countless examples of female entrepreneurs running highly successful businesses - whether it's Holly Tucker & Sophie Cornish founding from their kitchen table or Julie Deane and her mother Freda Thomas starting the Cambridge Satchel Company as a way to cover school fees for the kids. As the UK economy moves up a gear, we're seeing ambitious and creative business women playing a crucial part in the economic revival."

“Today’s business environment is competitive and hard so we all need an edge to propel us to the next level of success. I hope that by sharing my story, peppered with a bit of humour of course, I can inspire a few more women to make a business out of their passion.  I am proud to have been invited along to speak in a city with such a great entertainment heritage.” Lynne Parker, CEO & Founder Funny Women

Entrepreneur and keynote Lara Morgan says “The women inspiring the economy day of events is a huge, not to be missed opportunity for those interested in self-development, leadership, inspirational anecdotal value shared by a seemingly scary but remarkably approachable group for ladies. Learn how to set bold goals, to blag it like the boys and simply chose not to play by someone else’s rules, there is no such thing as a glass ceiling. Challenging, enjoyable, useful, applicable value will be shared in open discussion which when milked for all it’s worth, your investment in time will provide enormous return, treat yourself, turn up with a plan, promise to engage at every turn and set a target for making the most of valuable growth lessons.”

“Having a Women 1st event at the International Festival for Business provides a great opportunity to share and showcase what different companies have done to progress diversity & inclusion in the workplace and to consider what questions this raises for our businesses in the future. “ Brian Chapman, HR Business Partner, AkzoNobel

Sara Parker, Director, CBI “Diversity is a critical element of business success so it is great that this conference is celebrating the contribution women make to the economy and giving others the confidence to fulfil their potential.”

Headline speakers for this conference organised by Women 1st, include:

  • Marion King, president UK & Ireland, Mastercard
  • Lara Morgan, CEO, Company Shortcuts, and former CEO,Pacific Direct
  • Lynne Franks, Women’s empowerment guru
  • Sarah Wood, COO, Unruly, IFB Ambassador
  • Melanie Richards, Partner, KPMG, member of UK Board
  • Andy Woodfield, Partner, PwC
  • Maggie O’Carroll, CEO, the Women’s Organisation
  • Sue O’Brien, CEO, Norman Broadbent & Women’s Business Council member
  • Dr Inna Baigozina-Goreli, Partner, AT Kearney
  • Carol Bagnald, Regional Director, HSBC
  • Olivia Leonard, Facebook
  • Ros Rivaz, NED, Rexam, Chair, Remco
  • Brian Chapman, HR Business Partner, AkzoNobel
  • Paula Mackenzie, Chief Finance & Development Officer, KFC
  • Sara Parker, Chief Membership Director, CBI
  • Vanessa Vallely, Author, CEO We are the City
  • Lynne Parker, Founder, Funny Women
  • Dale Stafford, Founder, The Principle Department
  • Emma Stroud, Managing Director, Pitch Perfect Club

Simone Roche, curating the event is director of Women 1st is which supports women working in the tourism and visitor economy, said: “As the number of career opportunities grow for women in the UK, holding this event as part of IFB 2014 will present a fantastic chance to showcase the women and organisations that are leading the way for the next generation of female leaders.

“It’s going to be a busy, inspirational day packed with practical advice, and I look forward to hearing from successful women of different backgrounds.”

Max Steinberg, chair of IFB 2014, said: “You only need to look around the Liverpool City Region to see how women are inspiring economic growth across a range of sectors, so I’m delighted that Women 1st have chosen to hold this important conference at IFB 2014. They’ve brought together a really interesting panel of speakers, who between them have fantastic experience and insight.”

For more information on IFB 2014, and to register for the free Business Club, please visit