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Aspire to Lead with Sheryl Sandberg – Imogen O’Mahony, Student Recruitment Diversity Manager at PwC

Aspire to Lead

Imogen O’Mahony is a Student Recruitment Diversity Manager at PwC, responsible for bringing to life initiatives that encourage diversity through recruitment. These include the firm’s new social mobility programme, Business Insight week, and the growth of its Shadow a Female Leader programme. Imogen also manages a suite of Women in Business events and activities for the student audience.

Imogen O'Mahony
Imogen O’Mahony

 “…we’re committed to supporting the emergence of more female leaders across the business community. Our ‘Aspire to Lead’ conference was an important new element of this agenda…”

One of my recent projects was as part of the project team to deliver the UK arm of the global Aspire to Lead conference which was run by PwC in conjunction with Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg.

 ‘Aspire to Lead: The PwC Women’s Leadership Series’

The event on 24 April was part of ‘Aspire to Lead: The PwC Women’s Leadership Series’, focused on how female students navigate their transition from campus to career.

We invited nearly 300 students from around the UK to join us for a live showing of the webcast in London, Birmingham and Leeds. In London we ran a conference surrounding the webcast which was designed to ignite the conversation about women in leadership and featured a full day of talks from our female leaders at PwC alongside some guest speakers.

We kicked off at 10.30am and were welcomed by our event host, Sarah Churchman, our UK Diversity and Inclusion leader, and also joined by Gaenor Bagley, PwC UK’s Head of People. Gaenor shared her own experiences of being a female leader and why it’s so important for employers like PwC to be diverse, and invest in supporting women in business.

Committed to supporting the emergence of more female leaders across the business community

Sarah then took us through our Business Case for diversity, and why it matters so much to PwC, which was really compelling. It was interesting to see some hard hitting facts about women in leadership, and just how few of the top roles are held by women – only 11% of top board seats globally are held by women and only 4 FTSE 100 companies have female CEOs. This is despite female graduates making up over 50% of the graduate population.

Sarah reaffirmed how at PwC Women play a key role in leading our network and how we’re committed to supporting the emergence of more female leaders across the business community. Our ‘Aspire to Lead’ conference was an important new element of this agenda.

Practical ideas on how women can put their best self forward

We designed the programme to include practical ideas on how women can put their best self forward, make the most of your personal brand, communicate with impact, think big and ultimately realise your career potential and the speakers more than delivered.

Sheryl Sandberg
Sheryl Sandberg

After a full day of inspirational talks and interactive sessions, we reconvened to watch the live webcast that was being broadcast direct from Facebook’s studios simultaneously across the globe.

The webcast kicked-off with a welcome by Terri McClements, PwC’s US Human Capital Leader and Global Talent Leader, who shared her personal insights and experiences. She introduced Sheryl Sandberg, founder of LeanIn.Org, author of Lean In and Lean In for Graduates, and Facebook COO, who encourages the next generation to reach for their ambitions and discuss the important role they have in reaching gender equality.

Rachel Thomas, President of LeanIn.Org, offered tips for finding the right job, negotiating your first salary and succeeding in your career. Sandberg and Thomas then answered questions from the live audience of students from Africa, Asia, Latin America and the US.

Following the live event, we regrouped in the UK and held our own panel discussions and Q&As in London, Leeds and Birmingham. Our panellists debated some of the key themes of the day and the talk and shared some of their Lean In moments from their careers.

Buzzing with energy

The day was brilliant and the room was really buzzing with energy. It was great to spend the day with so many different people all sharing their experiences. The feedback so far has been amazing and it was a great start in engaging with our future leaders of tomorrow and hopefully inspiring them to fulfil their potential in business. I really enjoyed being a part of such a great day and am already working on take 2!

The event planning was a great experience as I have never had to ‘sync’ with a live webcast before and dealing with the technology did create some challenges but it all went alright on the night! It was great to work with a team of such motivated people and be involved with such inspirational role models as our speakers. I think I have a few more grey hairs but it was worth it in the end!

Watch the webcast recording of Sheryl Sandberg here: http://www.pwc.com/gx/en/careers/aspire-to-lead.jhtml


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