Inspire - Celebrating 10 years of advancing women in business

By Amanda Ciske, Associate Director Marketing & Communications, Inspire

This week Inspire - the influential business exchange, held its summer network event in London at the stunning Haymarket Hotel. Marking ten years since Inspire was established by Carol Rosati OBE, a director at Harvey Nash, over 70 senior executive women from all sectors joined to celebrate the occasion. Inspire held its very first event at the Haymarket, so it seemed only appropriate to return to where it all began. See photos from the night.

There was much to celebrate, reflecting on the long journey and immense support from Harvey Nash toward the advancement of women in business. Carol opened the evening by sharing how at the start she and Harvey Nash had no idea where this would take them. She quipped how she was joining a campaignthat has been going on since 1792, when Mary Wollstonecraft published A Vindication of the Rights of Women.  

Inspire has grown from 360 to 8,000 members across four continents. It has enabled Harvey Nash to play a huge role in increasing the gender diversity on shortlists and challenging businesses to recruit outside the old boy's network. Inspire has also been the inspiration for more than a half dozen offshoot initiatives supported by the Harvey Nash Group such as, ARA Mentors in the USA, Engage, Women in Technology, the Women's Directorship Programme in Hong Kong and the Women's Chair Award in the Nordics. 

But perhaps where we've seen the biggest impact has been on Harvey Nash itself where external thinking informed internal thinking and set the Group on its own journey. In 2015, Harvey Nash signed up to EY's National Equality Standard, a rigorous accreditation for diversity and inclusion, and just last month the Group became the first recruitment firm to be certified.  

The main speaker of the evening was Susan L. Jurevics, the recent CEO and Board Member of Pottermore, J.K. Rowling's digital publishing company. Susan's extraordinary career in entertainment, media and merchandising spans from Nickelodeon, where she launched shows such as Beavis and Butthead and Ren and Stimpy, to creating fashion for Barbie at Mattel and later to Sony pioneering their entertainment marketing function and finally, to leading and digitizing the wizarding world of Harry Potter.

When Susan joined Pottermore in 2013, consumers' digital behaviour was emerging (people were not yet sleeping with their smartphones) and she found that the Company's business model was not future-proof. She explained the original model (primary sponsorship from Sony and a limited direct-to-consumer eCommerce business) needed to be flipped (allowing third party global retailers to sell the Harry Potter eBooks), and Pottermoore had built a digital product offering targeting a very different audience (children) than the one that was consuming it (millennials).

She shared how she helped change the business culture by putting in boundaries and KPIs to help people improve and navigate their careers. She also improved Pottermore's relationship with its community by implementing a 'Delight Metric', and ensured that employees talk directly with Harry Potter fans to understand what they love and what Pottermore could do better.

Working with one of the most successful and business savvy authors and one of the biggest fan groups the world has ever known, Susan shared some of the lessons from this experience and digital trends leaders should consider.

  • There are no longer audiences or fans - there are communities and participants
  • Recognise the importance and emergence of data - and also the importance of human context and a human view of algorithms 
  • The rise of social platforms that will replace websites - at Sony, Susan said the rise of social media challenged them to make better films - social is no longer an ecosystem for brands to control

From her personal experience, Susan shared further learning:

  • Digital is a mind-set - all space is digital. You need to be agile, things change quickly in all spaces. Being able to pivot and change your business model is a mind-set, not a skill
  • Know the questions to ask rather than try to compete with the digital natives. Consumers need the ability to share and be heard and it is important to understand this
  • The 'Trifecta' of work - work needs to: align with beliefs and what you love; positively impact the world; and, be meaningfully rewarding 

Her biggest takeaway and last message to all, "There's magic everywhere, it really does exist. It may be lost in the grit and hidden in the gloss but it's there, you just have to find it."

Concluding the speeches, Harvey Nash Group CEO, Albert Ellis thanked Susan and also took the opportunity to thank Carol, who will be stepping down from her role at Harvey Nash at the end of June. He thanked her for her vision and passion and the lasting legacy of supporting diversity that will be continued by Harvey Nash. Moving forward the Group will remain as passionate and dedicated to diversity and inclusion as it has always done, with a strong team in place to keep us at the forefront. 

And Inspire will continue to remain absolutely central to this.

For more information about Inspire please contact:

Amanda Ciske, Inspire, amanda.ciske@harveynash.com
Christine de Largy, christine.delargy@impactexecutives.com