Women in Business Interview- Julie Driscoll, UK Regional Director, ITE Exhibtions
What is your experience of being a woman in business?
Currently excellent. When I first started in business almost 20 years ago it was a different story. I remember being on a sales floor surrounded by 100 men. It made me resilient. In my current business there is great gender diversity and it's a pleasure to be in a progressive environment
Where do you find support for women in the industry?
I have network of friends in business, outside of my workplace, who I see and can bounce ideas off.
Building your network is very important however I have only managed to do this when my children became teenagers. I can now steal the odd night out now without feeling horribly guilty. When the kids were smaller I couldn't leave them, so networking took a back seat. I recently completed an MBA at imperial where I was awarded ‘most inspiring business leader' scholarship. The fellow students are all incredible.
How have you overcome any difficulties in the industry/business?
As a mother I have always had to leave work dead on 5.30 for childcare. Historically I have had line mangers who have frowned upon this. Meetings put in the diary for 5pm which then over run. I've had to sprint for nannies and child minders too many times. I wished I had been braver to say sorry I am off. Now I have the confidence to say I have a hard stop at 5.30. But, if you really need me I have a 90-minute commute, so we can chat further by phone. Presenteeism (being literally present at the office) is over rated. We should measure people on results. I work at night when the kids go to bed. I don't have to always be in the office to be effective
Who is your biggest female inspiration?
Sheryl Sandberg's ‘lean in' book is brilliant. I also love Michelle Obama, Angela Ahrdent, my Mum, Sister and my brilliant female friends.
How do you manage the work/life balance?
I don't think I do... my family is absolutely the most important thing in my life. I have attended all (nearly all) school concerts, parent's evenings and play dates. However, I also work a lot. I love work and I don't feel guilty about this. I have travelled widely with work and have far exceeded my own expectations of what I could achieve in my lifetime. This is incredible. I strive to set a great example for my children, particularly my daughter.
My parents instilled a ‘hard work' ethic in me coupled with the importance of lifelong learning. It has served me well. We had very humble beginnings. Being able to buy a house and go on holiday is all down to the great career I have built.
What's next for your career/ business/ organisation?
I started my new role as UK regional director on March 1st. This is an incredible honour. The UK division brings together 6000 exhibitors with over 100,000 visitors each year. We are key to driving UK retail forwards and I am so proud of the value we add to the British economy each year.
For now, my plan is to excel in this role. As a leader I pride myself on having a cool head, firm hand and warm heart. I intend to lead my people to achieve growth in a business that they love, developing exhibition brands that they adore.