Cumbria’s businesswomen were urged to be brave to overcome challenges and make the most of their careers at an event this week.

Almost 100 women attended the event, Cumbria’s International Women's day, hosted by Cumbria Chamber of Commerce at North Lakes Hotel and Spa, in Penrith.

The day started with four workshops covering topics including Women in Innovation, Business Resilience, Equality and Diversity and Financial Freedom.

After lunch attendees then gathered for the panel discussion which featured co-director of Grasmere Gingerbread Joanne Hunter, group director at QinetiQ Angela Barker, partner and head of employment law and training at Baines Wilson Joanne Holborn, and Nikki Dixon marketing director at Daniel Thwaites.

The discussion covered topics including business ethos, technology, gender equality, and role models.

The panellists also talked about their careers and how being brave had paid off.

Joanne Holborn explained that to her it's important to treat people how you want to be treated and that at the beginning of her career, she had to fake it until she could make it.

She said: “As a trainee solicitor I had to go to court, I was going to be against a QC, and I was a little scared, but I just faked it until I made it.

“I want people to have confidence in themselves and be brave.”

Joanne Hunter shared her struggles to establish her career: “I was brought up in a home where the men were the ones who worked, my brothers were supported but education was not something I was encouraged to do.

“I thought there is a world out there and I wanted to explore it.

“I worked in tourism, and I gained lots of experience but I didn’t have any qualifications.

“I went back into education and finally came back home to take over the family business.”

Nikki Dixon admitted she wouldn’t be able to do her job if it wasn’t for her husband: “My husband is a stay-at-home husband, he looks after the children which give me the chance to pursue my career.

“He is supportive and always says if I couldn’t do the job I wouldn’t be where I’m at today.

“I would say for everyone to have confidence in their abilities and believe in themselves.”

Eve Halliday head of commercial and business growth at Cumbria Chamber, said: “There was a real atmosphere of positivity, with attendees talking about their achievements and careers, sharing advice and knowledge, and forging new connections.”

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