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International Women’s Day 2023

A blog from the phs 2022 Women in Leadership (WiL) cohort aka. The Tribe!

Being in a leadership or management role brings its challenges, no matter who you are, but being a woman in these roles often brings added pressures. Today is International Women’s Day, so we want to celebrate and share success stories.

The WiL cohort were women from across the business: Amanda Gallagher from phs Compliance, Amy Ellis and Lucy Taylor from HR, Annie Willoughby and Carol Marriott from Hygiene Ops, Gemma O’Connor and Teresa Gizzi from Sales, Jo Thomas from Product Development, Kelly Greenaway from Marketing and Kim Whitcombe from IT. Gemma Pollock from Finance also joined us but has since got a job outside of phs.

Amanda explains how it felt when finding out she was joining the programme, “I was absolutely thrilled to be chosen but my first thought was ‘why me’?” with Gemma admitting that she was “a bit sceptical” and Amy adding “I was a bit hesitant to start off with. I felt that as a ‘Head of’ already, would I look stupid – like I shouldn’t be doing my job if I needed this course?”

The WiL programme began in Tamworth in April 2022 in a room full of relative strangers and developed in to a safe and supportive environment for the participants to grow, learn and share knowledge and experience.

The course consisted of workshops, a 2-day retreat and Q&A with members of the Exec team. Kelly described the programme as “truly inspiring” adding that “watching everyone grow from the beginning to end was a joy and I feel privileged to have been part of it”.

Lucy explains, “The programme content is excellent, and the delivery was superb from Dr Lucy Ryan who is equally brilliant, inspiring, and thought provoking. However, there is a hidden by-product in this programme that far outweighs the content, and that is the networking with likeminded strong ladies from all areas of our business”.

It’s the bonds forged that resonates with all the women that took part, as all too often the value of a supportive network can be overlooked. Teresa said “Having not really worked with many other women leaders during my career the programme helped me in so many ways. I learnt a lot about myself and embraced my own strengths and weaknesses, but I’ve also grown my network and friendship group with the most incredible, unique, and strong women” and Kim agrees “Being part of the WiL cohort has empowered me in ways I didn’t know were possible”.

The honesty, encouragement and learning achieved on the course not only supports other women in leadership but supports the business daily, as by sharing work and life experience, we learned to get comfortable being uncomfortable. Jo explained “coping with crippling self-doubt and imposter syndrome caused by the menopause, I constantly doubted myself in every aspect of my life. The WiL programme allowed me to share my feelings in a safe environment whilst learning practical skills and knowledge that helped both in and outside of work.” Carol agreed, saying “One of the best things for me is that it made me aware I have a voice, and how to use it in the right way and in a productive way. I’m braver and now have the confidence to put my points across. My role is demanding daily but the skills I learned throughout this process have helped me deal with those demands, I understand myself better and that helps me to understand others better”.

The WiL programme is a true journey of discovery as perfectly summed up by Annie who says “it’s hard for me to put into words how much I got from my time on the WiL journey but when I think about it, what comes home to me each time is the friendship and support of a group of wonderful women who I never would have had the pleasure to work with had we not all been put together in a room in Tamworth in April 2022. For me, the time spent with these lovely ladies brings home my chosen ohana, my Tribe!” 


Gemma agrees and says, “This has honestly been the best development programme I have been on in my career because of the content, the format and predominantly the continued relationships I have gained with my fellow WiL colleagues”.

Success can be measured in many ways - progression, promotion, personal growth, gaining new skills and knowledge, building strong networks, and forging friendships. If this is true, the Women in Leadership programme certainly delivered. 

Since that first uncomfortable day in Tamworth, we’ve progressed, celebrated promotions, proved personal growth, learnt and used new skills and knowledge, built strong networks and made lasting friendships, all of which make us stronger leaders and enables us to support the business in delivering a diverse, inclusive future.

Our advice for the 2023 cohort and all women in phs this International Women’s Day is, learn to be comfortable being uncomfortable, value your network and embrace opportunity. We are all in it together and are here to support women across the business.

The Tribe - Amanda, Amy, Annie, Carol, Gemma, Jo, Kelly, Kim, Lucy, and Teresa

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