We Are The City

 

Every now and again wonderful opportunities come our way and about a few weeks ago, I was approached by the very talented Ashish Bhardwaj, who is based in New Delhi and writes for the platform ‘We Are The City’ – a news platform that supports what the it calls the ‘female pipeline’. Ashish asked if he could do a Q&A with me, and of course I said yes! I was thrilled to be on an Indian news platform that supports women; it was a huge honour.

Ashish one of those rare people who works tirelessly to connect with and interview Indian women across India and abroad; he is proud to actively be involved in empowering Indian women.

Here is the piece that was recently published, that has been well received. I hope you enjoy reading it and finding out more about me, the person behind Serendipity PR & Media and here is the piece that I am very proud of…

 

 

 

 

100 FSB Women for IWD

Yesterday, 8 March 2018 marked International Women’s Day (IWD), a global celebration of women’s social, political and cultural achievements, while still pushing for progress for future generations. In the last year, we’ve seen women from all walks of life stand up and start the conversation on issues that women still face, from gender equality, to fair pay and sexual assaults. This year’s theme is #PressForProgress, a call-to-action to press forward and progress gender parity.

Thanks to two recent big social media campaigns – #MeToo and Time’s Up movements, the call for change this year has not gone unnoticed.

I am a member of the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) and am also on its Diversity Taskforce, and this year the FSB created a very strong and inspiring digital campaign to raise the visibility of role models for women entrepreneurs. It’s called 100 FSB Women. These women come from all sectors and each has a special story to tell and valuable advice to impart to other women.

2018 is the 100-year anniversary of when the first women got the right to vote, following the suffragettes’ campaigning, and the FSB felt it was fitting to feature 100 women FSB members and share their wealth of advice and inspiration with women all over the world.

I am very proud to be alongside these women and be part of this 100 and for my business tip to be featured by Business Leader.

The UK currently has 5.7 million small businesses and self-employed, but it is estimated that could be boosted by a further 1.2 million new enterprises led by women. This untapped business potential of women can be tackled, in part, by increasing the visibility of role models for women entrepreneurs, according to a recent FSB report.

Sadly and perhaps unfairly, research shows that women are less likely than their male counterparts to know a person in business and, as a result, have fewer opportunities to benefit from exposure to others with business experience and are less likely to see people like themselves succeeding.

Entrepreneurship was once considered a man’s domain but this is changing throughout the world – Nigeria now outranks the US and the UK in terms of percentage of entrepreneurs among women with a rate of 41% for the African country against 10% and 5.7% for the two developed countries respectively.

Yet women in Nigeria and other developing economies have shown to be 20% less likely than men to have a bank account and 17% less likely to have borrowed formally. Factors such as legal restrictions on women to open bank accounts without a male relative’s authorization are a challenge for women in the region.

While IWD is now over till next year, our work to press for progress continues – today, tomorrow, the day after that and the day after that… and the last verse of the poem, The Woods Are Lovely Dark And Deep by Robert Foster springs to mind…

The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.

 

It’s March!

It has taken me three months to get down to writing this post…three months into this year and that’s because so much has been happening since we started 2018…from bringing two like-minded organisations together to create and launch a library in the City of London; to being invite back again by the Mayor’s office to speak about being a London business and the need for diversity; to helping a client participate in a London China expo to working on some exciting launches including the media campaign for a business book called The Responsive Leader written by an influential thought-leader, Erik Korsvik Østergaard, who is making waves with his new book.

While all this has been going on we have had the #Metoo and #TimesUp social media campaigns have gone viral and as I write, we are heading towards International Women’s Day (IWD) on 8 March.

Findings from reports tell us that gender parity is over 200 years away; which is why there has never been a more important time to keep motivated and #PressforProgress – this year’s IWD theme. There is a strong global momentum striving for gender parity.

To help mark this day the FSB is raising the visibility of role models for women entrepreneurs with an international digital campaign called 100 FSB Women. As part of this initiative Serendipity PR is actively supporting the FSB Women’s London network; and we have helped source one of its speakers and organised a free business book for attendees. This special book is called Read My Lips by Swedish TV personality Elaine Eksvard, published by our client, LID Publishing. Wouldn’t life be easier if we could get people to listen to us in every situation? This book teaches us how to persuade our listeners, be professional and personal, without being private. Eskvard is best-selling author of Ruling Technique, Living Power and Talk Nice.

I will end with this wonderful comment from Helen Mirren who was speaking about #MeToo and #TimesUp to The New York Times and said, “It’s an amazing moment isn’t it? I’ve never wanted to be younger than I am, but the only thing that makes me think God, I wish I was 18 now, is 18 year olds are coming into a very different world.”

 

 

2017 Throwback, Ending With The Mayor of London

Serendipity PR has a big wonderful year, full of opportunities and special moments and with the New Year’s around the corner I wanted to share my gratitude for those who made my journey at Serendipity PR joyful…from the new website and the ‘Serendipity’ rebrand; the new friendships, clients; the travel; the love of old friendships and family.

 

But it was closing the year with the invitation to speak alongside the Mayor of London about running a business in the Capital and about being a woman in business. It was an incredible moment for me, as I took my CEO – my ten-year-old son, because he always gives me good business advice. The moment got even better when I thought I would mention my son in my speech and the Mayor then gave him a shout-out in his opening and also gave him a lot of time.

And just on being a woman in business, the Mayor has launched a new initiative called #BehindEveryGreatCity – 2018 marks the centenary of the first women winning the right to vote in the UK.

Throughout 2018, #BehindEveryGreatCity will celebrate London’s role in the women’s suffrage movement, mark the progress that’s been made on women’s equality over the past 100 years and take real action to tackle gender inequality in London.

Happy New Year!

Pax Japonica Launches At Foyles

 

This time of year always reminds me of my childhood trips to Foyles, where my mum would take us at the start of the Christmas holidays, where we could choose a few books to occupy us over the Christmas period. I loved these yearly trip, as at an early age I had a deep love of books, that would allow me to escape into different worlds.

Foyles those days had a long narrow winding staircase, where everyone would somehow superbly navigate themselves up and down, without colliding into each other. The book shelves used to be stacked and packed, where I would choose my Nancy Drew or something from the Hardy Boys – yes it was that long ago!

So, it was almost ‘back to the future’ moment when last month I helped organise the book launch for a Japanese business title that I was working on – who would have guessed that that that little girl, would one day be helping to host an author from Japan at Foyles?! Time is indeed a wondrous thing.

Takeo Harada, former Japanese diplomat and now CEO of the Institute of International Strategy and Information Analysis, a leading think tank is the author of Pax Japonica – a book that is indeed ahead of its time.

As earlier this December, Brussels and Tokyo created the biggest open economic area in the world; just as the US is walking away from multilateral trade regimes. The agreement comes as Japan exhibits 2.5% growth, the strongest in a generation. The agreement removes tariffs for Japanese cars and spare parts, while Japan opens up its public tenders to European contractors and its supermarkets to European cheese, wine, beef and pork with guaranteed names of origin.

This global headline reinforces the premise of Pax Japonica – Japan, the world’s third largest economy and largest creditor nation, has been in crisis for more than two decades. Its economy has been depressed or in recession for much of that period, its banking sector in a critical state and its public sector burdened by recurring fiscal deficits and mounting debt. Yet, Harada argues in his book that a possible future ’Pax Japonica’ – one in which Japan will overcome its paralyzing debt and once again play a leading role in global finance – can become a reality and is now unfolding.

Harada says, till now, the hegemonic role in global trade and financial markets has been assumed by the USA and China, but this is now changing; and that Japan’s role in the global economy can never be under-estimated.

To understand what is happening in geo-politics with particular reference to Japan, this book is a must read. It is published by LID Publishing.

 

 

On A Press Ticket To – Web Summit, Lisbon This November

One of my favourite #WebSummit moments with Wyclef Jean…Ready Or Not…

Posted by Serendipity PR & Media on Donnerstag, 9. November 2017

If you have not been to Lisbon, put it on your travel list…the Portuguese are charming and warm-hearted, living in beautiful city full great places to eat. I was there on a press ticket for what is called the biggest tech event in the world – Web Summit, 6 to 10 November. There were 60,000 people who attended from more than 170 countries to hear and learn from over 1,200 world class speakers that read like a Who’ Who book! From Al Gore to Wyclef Jean to Rosario Dawson, Matthew Freud to the people driving the international news agenda and behind the world’s most influential companies – Margrethe Vestager, the European commissioner who fined Google €2.4 billion, Slack co-founder Stewart Butterfield, Reddit CEO, Steve Huffman, UN secretary-general, António Guterres, and Booking.com CEO, Gillian Tans and more.

We’re in the midst of a technology revolution. Some call it Industrie 4.0. Others call it the industrial internet of things… whatever you call it, it’s here and it’s happening. By 2020 it is estimated that there will be 20 billion connected devices and we’re not just talking about domestic appliances or devices like fridges and smart phones, but the big things like buildings, trains and traffic systems, power grids and wind farms –  the equipment and machines that provide the critical infrastructure for our lives – and this was the focus of Web Summit.

The talks and sessions were mind-blowing, where occasionally you were facing your future, particularly when seeing and interviewing Sophia, the humanoid robot using an early form of Artificial Intelligence (AI).

Some of the main thoughts from Web Summit is how AI and tech can be used to reverse the damage we have done to planet – rethinking climate change. There was a strong and a real will at the Summit – to make positive change. I covered this in my two latest articles on Justmeans. You can read my interview with Marcus Shingle, CEO, XPRIZE and my Al Gore piece.

The Web Summit reinforced the impact and the power of this digital revolution and there is no going back. It is tearing up the rule book and disrupting…we just have to read Trump’s Twitter feed to know that…

Photo Credit: Web Summit

 

 

 

 

 

 

Serendipity PR & The National Curry Awards

I have been working on the media campaign, which involved writing all the main speeches and brochure copy for the 12th Annual National Curry Awards for best Chef and Restaurant of the Year, hosted by the Bangladesh Caterers Association (BCA), which took place on 19 November in Central London at the Park Plaza Hotel Westminster.

BCA is a fascinating organisation that has been going since 1960, representing over 12,000 restaurants across the UK and contributing a whopping £4.2 billion to the economy. As aside the late former foreign secretary Robin Cook, in 2001, gave the seminal “chicken tikka masala speech where he said that ‘chicken tikka masala’ is now Britain’s true national dish.

The evening was co-hosted by celebrities Tasmin Lucia Khan and Alexis Conran. Over 1,200 attended, which included dignitaries, Parliamentarians and high-profile individuals. The evening was glitzy, glamorous affair where strong speeches were made to draw attention to the plight of Britain’s curry industry, which is in a crisis due to the shortage of skilled chefs. The British curry sector is going through one of its most critical periods in its history, where at least three to four restaurants are closing a week, while there are challenges for new curry houses who have had their openings delayed because they can’t find the chefs.

This year’s theme was – BCA: Sourcing Britain’s Love for Curry Since 1960, which I came up with, as BCA wanted a strong strapline to reflect these uncertain and difficult times. A strapline that said something about its history, cultural relevance here in Britain and about the food it creates. They also wanted a strapline that they could be proud of and think we got it just right!

BCA’s Chefs and Restaurants are the source of British curry in local areas, where they are helping high-streets thrive and most of all are continuously evolving the story of British curry.

I believe there is so much authentic passion in food; it is a form of cultural self-expression, as much as it is about social identity and nutrition. Food is a tool of economic regeneration and cooking has the power to transform society because it touches everything: education, the environment, entrepreneurship, cultural identity, agriculture and trade. But more importantly food brings people together. These BCA Awards reinforces this premise.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We’re living in a digital constellation: connecting us in an easily explored galaxy…

 

If you come across my Twitter profile you will find it says – We’re living in a digital constellation: connecting us in an easily explored galaxy – and this was wonderfully proved when on 9 September I spoke to a group of first year MSc students who are studying Creative Entrepreneurship at Vilnius University Business School in Lithuania via Skype about PR, brands, social media and being online.

Technology is truly connecting us and serving us well, as from my London office I was able to zoom in and share my experience with these business students, who are all budding entrepreneurs.

The one thing that struck me from my talk and something I learnt is that Twitter is not that ‘big’ in Lithuania and not as widely used, as it is here in the UK. One of the questions asked, was should they still spend time on Twitter, if people around them from their local communities were not using Twitter. My answer was ‘YES!’.

The internet and social media platforms allows us all to think bigger and wider than our local communities, hubs and sectors. Our clients could be sitting in other parts of the world, so beam your message out. This is globalization at its best without the carbon footprint!

Photo Credit: Mauco Sosa

Working With LID Publishing

It’s September and it’s back to school and back to writing…it has been a busy, happy summer of juggling school holidays and work. I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t exhausting, but it has been fun to include my 10-year-old in my business life and that I also have great flexible clients. This leads me on to say that I have been working on some great and interesting book campaigns for LID Publishing, the fifth largest publishing house for business books in Europe.

One of my favourite campaigns has been the Chinese Entrepreneur Series, which are five books: Jack Ma & AlibabaMa Huateng & TencentWang Jianlin & Dalian Wanda; Dong Mingzhu & Gree; and Ren Zhengfei & Huawei. Many of China’s successful entrepreneurs have become huge celebrities not just on China’s mainland but globally, attracting a legion of fans. Their appeal is not just down to their charisma, huge personal wealth, but has a lot to do with being stylish, confident business leaders who have inspired China’s growing aspirational middle classes.

The authors of these books are leading business writers in China, who all had direct access to these influential businessmen and their businesses.

This LID’s China’s Entrepreneurs Series is the result of a unique Chinese-Anglo collaboration between China Translation & Publishing House, a member of the China Publishing Group Corporation, one of China’s largest publishing companies. Further titles in the series are planned, to make it the most expansive international series about Chinese entrepreneurs.

I love working with LID, as their books are all good reads and never boring; and as a company they are always doing something different. If you love business books, then check out their new book club!

Photo Credit: LID Publishing

The Boss That Helped Shaped Me

 

We all have bosses that shape us in one way or another and Dame Helen Alexander was a boss who taught me that it was possible to be kind, thoughtful and a leader at the same time. The BBC’s obituary sums up Dame Helen beautifully.

 

I had the pleasure and privilege of working directly for Helen when I was appointed the first in-house Global Communications Director for The Economist Group in 2000.

 

I have lots of Helen stories and memories but perhaps the one that’s stayed with me over the years and the story I often tell is when I met Helen for the very first time when she interviewed me for the role. Her office was on the 13th floor of The Economist building off Jermyn Street. The building was imposing for the likes of me and like everyone going for an interview I was nervous.

 

Helen interviewed me early on a winter morning and I remember when I got out of the lift Helen was waiting to receive me at the lift…and after my interview she escorted me back to the lift, waited for it to arrive and saw that I got in okay. That small act made me feel special, that in spite of her busy schedule, Helen had time for me, an interviewee. I remember saying to her as I got in, shaking her hand that if I didn’t get the job, it was still such a pleasure to meet her.

 

It’s always the little things that matter, we remember…RIP Helen

Photo Credit: BBC