FOUR leading business executives told students in South Tyneside there are no limitations to what they can achieve with the right attitude and commitment.
Ian Durant, chairman of Greggs and Capital and Counties Properties PLC (Capco); Greggs’ people director Roisin Currie; head of retail (North) Gillian Long, and Beverley Churchill, creative director at Capco, gave inspirational talks to students at South Tyneside College.
They addressed around 80 students on how they should aspire to excel and not be held back by others.
Their visit, in support of the 30% Club, an international organisation committed to achieving better gender balance at all levels of organisations, brought together students from South Tyneside College, St Wilfrid’s RC College and Mortimer Community College, all South Shields.
Mr Durant told them: “You have to have interest in whatever it is that you are looking to do. It all requires hard work. One thing that all businesses share is change, because no business can afford to stand still.”
After the event, he added: “The point of this event is very much to inspire people into business and to think about how they can get into business careers.”
The visit is one of many being co-ordinated by Speakers for Schools, an independent charity founded by BBC journalist Robert Peston to help progress diversity from the schoolroom to the boardroom.
Currently, 23 per cent of positions on the boards of FTSE 100 companies are filled by women, up from 12.6 per cent.
Mr Durant spoke from a position of strength, with exactly a third of Greggs’ nine-strong board being female.
Their attendance was a major coup for the college, which has positioned itself as a major North East centre for learning through moving away from a more academic curriculum and working closely with employers across the region and beyond, so that its programmes meet the direct needs of business. Alison Maynard, principal-professional and vocational college, said: “We are indebted to Ian, Roisin, Gillian and Beverley for their highly interesting and motivational talks.
“They provided the students with excellent insight into their careers and gave great pointers to the determination and drive, but also very human qualities, needed to get to the top in business.
“Women should be highly valued in any workplace and face no other barriers to success than men. The hugely successful careers enjoyed of our female speakers show that traits such as talent, hard work and initiative should be the determining factors – there should be no limitations due to gender.
“South Tyneside College strongly believes that women and men should be given opportunities equally, and it is important that our young students – be they male or female – know that they can succeed if they work hard enough and are ambitious.
“That is why we were delighted to host this event – it is important that the students know and understand that message.
“I hope they learn from the very motivational words spoken by our speakers and are inspired by all they heard to reach their full potential.”