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29 March 2018 | By Sarah Glendinning Insight

A woman of influence

CBI regional director Sarah Glendinning on her English Women’s Awards win – and what it means to try to change things for the better 

Last week I was in Manchester having criss-crossed the country through the day testing our infrastructure to the limit (it passed – just). I was there to attend the first English Women’s Awards with some of my CBI northern powerhouse female colleagues. And I was delighted to have made the effort as I won the inaugural “Women of Influence” award in recognition of our work to support members.

Coming from a family of teachers and with two children in primary school, perhaps it’s no surprise that one of my key personal passions is around business and education. I believe that by linking the two together more effectively we can raise the aspirations and opportunities for our young people.

Crucially this is also the number one concern of CBI members whom I work with daily across the north east and it is therefore a key pillar of the highly effective influencing work we undertake at the CBI.

It’s also led me to get personally involved, chairing the advisory group for the Gatsby Good Career Benchmarks – a two-year pilot spearheaded by the North East LEP (NELEP) which has heralded transformational results in the provision of careers advice in schools. I’m delighted that this is now central to the Government’s Career Strategy published in December 2017 and I was pleased to be asked to continue to Chair the follow-on programme – North East Ambition.

I also sit on the NELEP Employment & Skills Board, and am regularly asked to talk at schools and events aimed at inspiring the next generation of young people, for example through an initiative in Northumberland called Find Your Future. Plus, I’m pleased to support the Princes Trust and Greggs Breakfast Clubs in the region.

Making an impact

Throughout my career I’ve also found myself drawn to causes supporting and championing women and inspiring young people to raise their ambitions. Alongside the education work, until very recently I have been part of the regional group of the National Association of Women in Construction and sat on the North-East England Chamber of Commerce’s Women’s Advisory Board prior to joining CBI.

I now run a Women in Leadership group within the north east with the aim of bringing together like-minded women in the region from the public, private, voluntary and education sectors to champion causes close to our hearts. I’m delighted there are spin-offs from this group making an impact in our schools and workplaces to support young women.

I don’t know who nominated me for the Women of Influence award, but I would like to thank them for taking the time to do so.

My parents instilled in me a belief when I was younger that if I could help change things for the better, then I should try. I’m proud that my role at the CBI affords me the opportunity to try to effect real change and help raise the awareness of key issues for our membership. I hope that will play a small but significant part in the long-term success of our region – part of creating a more prosperous society for all.

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