I am delighted and honoured to be a finalist in the Women on their Way Awards in the Outstanding Contribution to Women's Learning and Development category. Apparently the competition was very tough this year and so I'm very happy to have reached this stage, particularly as I only found out about the awards through Twitter the day before they closed and had to stay up very late to do a last-minute entry!
The Women on their Way Awards were set up by former candidate on The Apprentice, Jo Cameron, and her Co-Director Lisa Ibbotson. The aim of Women on Their Way is to inspire women around the world to improve their lives, moving towards equality.
I am really passionate about women's training and development, both in developing countries and within the UK. For the past eighteen years I have been working to improve women's skills, training and personal development in the Andean Region of South America, paying for courses from pattern cutting and IT skills through to self-esteem and leadership. Over the years I have taken numerous staff, designers and intern students from the UK out to South America to improve Quality Control, business organisation and technical ability and to give talks on health and safety and environmental responsibility.
I have had several student interns working at Pachacuti, usually from Derby University, but also from as far afield as France and Ecuador. It is always rewarding to take the students out to South America and usually an eye-opening experience for them as they realise the very real limitations of working with Fair Trade producers, particularly in terms of available raw materials. Most of them have gone on to incorporate designs developed with Pachacuti into their final collections. It is very rewarding to see some of those students go on to set up their own ethical fashion businesses; that's exactly what I want to achieve.
In the past few years I have taken on roles including Enterprise UK Ambassador, University of Essex Alumna of the Year 2009, East Midlands Ambassador and Business Language Champion. These entail working with educational institutions from secondary schools to Universities, giving presentations ranging from sustainability and ethical fashion through to business skills and the importance of learning languages. In addition, over the past year I have travelled as far afield as Nepal, Madrid and Ecuador to give presentations on Pachacuti's Fair Trade, Sustainable certification by WFTO.
The 10 judges for the Women on their Way Awards include Gill Fielding from The Wealth Company and Caroline Marsh of Channel 4 Secret Millionaire. The winner will be announce on Friday 19th March at the annual Women on their Way Awards lunch at Aston Villa Football Club.