“A very special gathering” – the Diamonds and Colours network for women business leaders

Liz Jackson writes: The second Diamonds And Colours event took place in November at the gorgeous Clarendon Fine Art Birmingham. What is Diamonds And Colours? Well, it’s a network for women business leaders and innovators at the top of their profession, who want to create a culture of kindness in business. It’s run by women for women, and our aim is to create opportunities for female entrepreneurs and provide a safe space for mentoring and encouragement.

We have clear, concrete business goals, too: we want to help scale and attract investment to women-led businesses, and get more female representation at board and Non-Executive Director (NED) level at companies of all sizes, in all sectors.

“The best networking event I have ever been to! Such an incredible calibre of people” – Rebecca Mander, guruyoucoach

I had the privilege of introducing an old friend as guest speaker, the amazing broadcaster, writer and diet and fitness expert Rosemary Conley CBE. I knew she’d be an inspiring speaker. I didn’t know she would share her incredible life story in such a candid, open and deeply affecting way.

Many of us in the room relied on Rosemary to help us get in shape for weddings, holidays, and glow-ups. We were fascinated to hear how she became famous with her ground-breaking Hip And Thigh Diet. Rosemary has published over 30 different books, selling millions of copies, and her nationwide weight loss and fitness clubs provided support for hundreds of thousands.

Successful, sure – but Rosemary also shared the impact this success had on her personal life, both positive and negative. She explained the impact of losing her business in 2014, and the grief she felt at the time. She is an inspiring woman who clearly practices what she preaches. At 75, she looks 55, and is fit as a fiddle, demonstrating that we live longer and can have a full and fit second half to our lives.  Rosemary took up ice skating at 60 when she participated in Dancing On Ice. Her key message was eat well, keep fit, be thankful for your life partner, and try your best to make a positive difference.

After her presentation, Rosemary joined our panel of speakers as we aimed to build on these key themes for an open panel discussion.

Open, honest advice from our panel

Our panellists were from very different business backgrounds. We had Dr Shakar Jafari, Founder & CTO of medtech innovator TrueInvivo, who shared her truly inspiring story of fleeing from Afghanistan, and overcoming cancer. We had a former CIA agent in our midst. Rupal Patel, serial entrepreneur and business advisor. Also sharing her journey was Pal Bhusate, CEO and Founder at Kinseed Limited, a tech platform with the ability to transform healthcare data analytics, and a business idea inspired by the birth of her child.

Lastly, but by no means least, the ever-sparkling Alison Cooper had so many insights to share. Having founded, scaled, and sold a global airline food business – advised by BCMS – Alison is now Co-Founder of Alicia J Diamonds, experts in custom-made jewellery, and Ambassador for The Prince’s Trust Women Supporting Women.

This was one of the most diverse, frank, and honest panel discussions I’ve ever chaired. It’s difficult to capture in one blog the different life stories from the panellists, of course all these women are business owners, too. It goes without saying that the business acumen and commercial skills on the panel are second to none.

What made this panel so different were the personal stories. Of growing up with parents who were supportive in some instances, and not in others. Parents who didn’t speak English, journeys of fleeing Afghanistan and escaping arranged marriages, and unfaithful husbands. But there was always hope, fight, and kindness, too.

Our guests were animated in their questioning. I had to be very strict with the time keeping, as there was definitely enough content for the event to last a week!

Great feedback – and new friends…

This incredible evening was made possible because of our sponsors, including BCMS, who are determined to help women scale businesses and achieve aspirational exits. Alicia J Diamonds, who ensure you’re well decorated with beautiful jewellery and dressed to impress. Clarendon Fine Art provided a fantastic venue and atmosphere with incredible art that really helped break the ice and give us some great talking points. Evelyn, of course, are devoted to helping women make the most of their investments and protect their financial futures.

Lastly, we trailed our partnership with Sumatran Orangutan Society, a charity focused on protecting the rainforests of Sumatra. We have already met a network of businesswomen who live and run businesses on the edge of the rainforests. Over the next year we will be twinning our network to help our sisters in Sumatra scale their businesses whilst living sustainably and in harmony with the rainforests of Sumatra – extremely exciting!

My wonderful PA Niamh Carpenter received so many compliments on the event on the night, and the day after her inbox was exploding with positive feedback. Here are just a few examples:

  • “It was the best networking event I have ever been to! Such an incredible calibre of people.” Rebecca Mander, guruyoucoach
  • “What a wonderful, uplifting and inspiring event! I thoroughly enjoyed the panellists’ contributions, and the warm and interesting conversations with the other guests as well. The Diamonds and Colours Network is a very special gathering.” Helen Buckland, Orangutan SOS
  • “It was a great event. The panel were amazing and so refreshing to hear the reality of leading businesses, the good and the bad. Looking forward to the next event!” Kelly Scott
  • “Thanks so much for such an enjoyable, inspirational evening!” Samantha Williams

Get in touch to find out more about Diamonds And Colours – and how you can join the network.

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