This was the third year running of the Lumsden Club’s Winning Women Conference and to say it was a success would be an understatement. It is a conference where both students and the Fife community benefit from hearing the perspectives of guest speakers whilst proceeds go towards the charity, Fife Women’s aid. Days before, the hype around the event was evident -reflected in the quick ticket sell out followed by a visibly impressive turnout.
As I arrived, Parliament Hall filled with ambitious women and men (man) alike, each seizing their complimentary glass of wine, a feature that sent the event veering dangerously close to pretentious, (saved only by the absence of cheese) and the appearance of many a friendly face. I was met instantly with a sea of guest speakers, recruiters and other likeminded students as we were left to mingle for a comfortable duration before finally being seated for the second part of the evening.
Being childish and a bit fickle, a goody bag is often all it takes to place me in a state of small-scale euphoria, and fortunately goody bags there were. The excitement of spotting these was only intensified as the guest speakers (Valerie Bannert-Thurner, Hilde Hukkelberg, Cat Maclean, Caroline Mantoura and Dianne Ledingham) began to give their eloquently structured speeches, each equal parts inspiring and practical – dripping with advice and humorous anecdotes. Listening to these women, each holding leadership roles within their respective professional sector was an experience I would deem thoroughly worth having. Every speaker had an impressive CV and yet found a way of portraying their ascent that made those in the room feel slightly more at ease about their futures, whilst simultaneously eliminating the fear of the thoroughly discussed ‘imposter syndrome’ (the idea that you might be too under qualified to be there).
There was a general atmosphere of awe and admiration as each speaker stood forward and imparted wisdom from a varied range of fields (from banking to law to government work) and perspectives. Topics ranged from advice on legacy leaving to quitting for motherhood, from doing what matters to you to the subject of luck, amongst many others.
Some did express discontent at a lack of social diversity in the speakers, but nevertheless a good range of ages and backgrounds was showcased in the discussion, after which a question and answer session occurred. This was lead by a moderator who kept the conversation fluid and stimulating as the dialogue moved towards being a woman in the work world and the hurdles that must be overcome.
All in all, an inspiring evening (for lack of a less cliché word, for inspiring it was) where it felt fitting to be sat beneath a painting of the first female principle and vice chancellor of St Andrews, and from which I left with my head held a bit higher.