It is with great pleasure that we sponsor Women in the City’s Women of Achievement Award. This year the award has a new Medical category, so it is an honour to be their first sponsor. Nazzarena Arman interviewed Gwen Rhys, founder of the awards, so she could you hear her tell the story of the awards.[audio http://recordings.talkshoe.com/TC-24014/TS-532460.mp3]
The full transcript is after the jump. And of course, if you are considering a career with Patients Know Best, we would love to hear from you.
Nazzarena Arman: Welcome to ‘Patients Know Best’ podcast! My name is Nazzarena, and I am here speaking to Gwen Rhys, Founder of the Women in the City Award. Welcome Gwen!
Gwen Rhys: Good morning, Nazzarena!
Nazzarena Arman: Good morning to you, Gwen! Tell me about yourself briefly.
Gwen Rhys: Oh my goodness! Briefly is a bit difficult because I have been around for very long time now. But I am a serial entrepreneur and I have set up many businesses.
As a small child I used to play running a business. Other girls might have played with dolls, or perhaps appropriate for ‘Patients Know Best’, maybe being nurses, but I imagined that I was always going to run a business.
So I set up my first business in my mid-20s, which I then sold and I spent ten years doing a whole variety of work around the UK.
Again, in mid-1990s I set up another business and in 2003 launched the Women in the City.
Nazzarena Arman: Wonderful! Mohammad tells me that you have a very interesting story about the award. How did you get started on that?
Gwen Rhys: Well, I got started when I held a lunch in November 2003 when I brought together 200 women who were working in the city; they were mostly bankers, lawyers, insurance people, accountants, that kind of thing. That was my idea not to bring together 200; my idea was maybe to have about 50. I simply sent an invitation to women who I knew. I said if I organized an event like this, would you like to come, would you bring some friends?
So it was a great occasion when three months later there were all of us in a room, such energy and a great event, a great event.
And by the end of 2006, I had organized four highly successful lunches. Women in the City was beginning to have a strong presence and influence within the city. The event was very much one of the city’s signature events and people wanted, I think, a little bit more, and to be frank, I was a bit bored. I knew I could organize a great lunch; I wanted to do something as well.
So to bring an added dimension into the whole thing, I had a conversation with Professor Susan Vinnicombe, and she is the Director of the Centre for Women’s Leadership at Cranfield School of Management.
Susan’s team in fact published the annual FTSE Female 100, which looks at the number of women who are reaching senior roles within our major UK companies.
Sadly, the numbers over the years are not increasing. Sue and her team thought that this was due in part, not fully, but in part to the fact that many senior women who did get there, pulled up the door bridge and they kind of said to other women, hey, I am here, but you are not going to get here. I am the queen of the castle now.
So Susan and I felt that having an award which specifically recognized the extent to which senior and partner level women were actively supporting the progress of other women in their organizations and the wide business world would be something unique and different.
Nazzarena Arman: I understand. This is wonderful! Thank you. Tell us about the medicine category. I understand this is the first year this category is part of the Women in the City Award.
Gwen Rhys: Yes, it is. Up until now we have had categories that are very much focused, as I say, on the typical professions within the city. For the last eight years I have been an informal mentor to a medical student who is now in his second year as a hospital doctor. It was through him that I met Claire Lemer and Emma Stanton of Diagnosis.
And in a conversation with them, they thought the awards were an interesting concept. They in turn put me in touch with Clarissa Fabre, who is President of the Medical Women’s Federation. She was just so enthusiastic about the whole concept and she has two grownup daughters, both of whom are doctors, and so she really understood what it was that we were trying to achieve.
So together we said, well, this is a great category, we will open it to qualified doctors who are working within both the NHS and private practice; they can be working in hospitals, general practice, healthcare, and really any allied health professions.
The way we set up our awards is that each award has an endorser. So the Medical Women’s Federation endorses the award. And the role of the endorser is to help promote the awards to membership, and also to put together the judging category panel, because for our awards nominating is simple, filling in the application form is easy, but our judging is vigorous.
So when women win one of our category awards, they really know that they are special, truly, truly special. So that’s basically what that category is all about.
Nazzarena Arman: I understand. That’s wonderful! Thank you. What will ‘Patients Know Best’ do as sponsors for the category then?
Gwen Rhys: Well, of course the great thing about sponsors is that they are making a commitment to working with Women in the City. So our sponsors are really important people to us. We couldn’t run the awards program without having our sponsors. So I was really delighted when ‘Patients Know Best’ agreed to sponsor this category.
In fact, I heard Mohammad speak about the software that you have developed at Diagnosis Salon, and as a layperson I just thought that the product was amazing, certainly something that I would like to use particularly if I had a long-term chronic illness that needs specialized care.
The other really important thing that all our award sponsors are committed to themselves in their organizations is supporting the progress of women. And on meeting Mohammad I learned, not only more about the product, but really importantly, more about the culture of ‘Patients Know Best’, and one that supports highly flexible working practices, and for men as well as women actually. That helps them to mange their personal career development alongside their other passions and interests.
For me, to use business speak, that was such a great brand alliance and I was thrilled.
So I think as sponsors, obviously Mohammad will sit on the category judging panel and have an influence himself as to who wins the medical category.
I hope too that ‘Patients Know Best’ will encourage its clients to nominate senior level women based in London’s business hubs, who in addition to fulfilling a very demanding role are actively encouraging the progress of women and ensuring that there is sufficient talent coming through in future years.
Nazzarena Arman: That’s wonderful! Thank you Gwen for speaking to us today.
Gwen Rhys: My pleasure!
Nazzarena Arman: This is the end of our interview with Gwen Rhys, Founder of the Women in the City Award. Thank you very much for listening to ‘Patients Know Best’ podcast.