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Builders’ Merchants News spoke to Julie Langford, Finance and Operations Director at NMBS, to find out more about the Buying Society’s upcoming Women in Leadership event.



National Merchant Buying Society’s latest industry event is shining a spotlight on the role of women in industry, and particularly of the increasing number who are taking on leadership roles within their chosen fields.


The inspiration for this half-day event has come from Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook, in her book ‘Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead’ – as well as Dr Sam Collins, founder of the movement ‘Aspire for Equality’.


The Women in Leadership conference will be held on 13 September at the London Stock Exchange; undoubtedly a prestigious venue in which to hold debate on such an important topic.


Julie explained: “Construction is a male-dominated environment.  There are numerous events run up and down the country already where women in construction come together and tell their individual stories. NMBS wanted to do much more than that – to create an event where women can share experiences, yes, but also to provoke a discussion, to challenge thinking, and to encourage attendees to challenge themselves and share with their colleagues.”


The Women in Leadership conference will bring together women from across the industry – both merchants and suppliers – to share experiences, inspire ideas, and learn from each other, as well as from the guest speakers. Fundamentally, the conference is designed to provoke new conversations and thoughts as to where women are in industry in 2019.


Delegates will attend by invitation only, and the Conference will be hosted by TV presenter and technology journalist Georgie Barrat, who is perhaps best known as presenter of Channel 5’s The Gadget Show.


The half-day conference will open on the morning of 13 September with a talk from an as-yet unannounced prominent sports woman, followed by a presentation from a business speaker, with delegates then able to ask questions during a short Q&A session.


There will then be two ‘lean in’ – rather than ‘break out’ – sessions, with delegates given sufficient time to be able to attend both, focusing on the importance of networking, and a second subject that has not yet been announced.


Following a networking lunch, delegates will be treated to a speech from Mandy Hickson – a female Tornado fighter pilot. Mandy’s remarkable story started when she was dreaming about being a fast jet pilot at the young age of 13, and culminated in her leading an entirely male-dominated Front Line Tornado Squadron on active operations. She was only the second woman to fly a Tornado GR4 on the front line, completing three tours of duty and 45 missions over Iraq.


Now a civilian, Mandy draws on her experiences to train and inspire others, covering the core areas of decision-making, communication, leadership, behaviour, workload, conflict, fatigue and stress management.


The event will come to a close around 2:30pm.


Julie concluded: “The NMBS Women in Leadership event is a day away from the daily routine, giving our delegates a chance to reflect, meet new contacts and take inspiration from the speakers and other like-minded individuals. I believe it is particularly important to help bring women together in the construction industry, due to the dominance of men at all levels of business.”

More details about the Conference will be announced over the coming months.