INTERVIEW WITH OUR LEADING LADIES FOR INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY
As we all know gender equality has been an issue for as long as time itself! It’s not just a basic human right, but a base for a peaceful, flourishing and sustainable world. After all, half of the world’s population is made up of women and girls!
Over the past decades, real improvements have been made to change the way the world sees different genders, and the gap between them has gradually decreased. More girls attend schools, fewer girls are forced into marriage, more females are placed into leadership positions, and laws have been reformed to improve gender equality.
Whilst we at Frog Bikes make up for a minuscule amount of the population, we are playing our part to support gender equality in the workplace. Nearly half of our leadership team are women. Our Head Offices in Ascot have a high proportion of women, 45% in fact, and 36% of the team in the manufacturing facility are women too.
This day, is a time to celebrate the impressive progress women at all levels of the career ladder have made… So, let’s meet some of Frog Bikes’ Leading Ladies:
Shelley Lawson Co-founder & Director
Shelley, together with Husband Jerry, founded Frog Bikes in 2013, after a fruitless bike hunt for their own two children it inspired them to leave their corporate careers behind and create a range of perfectly proportioned kids’ bike.
What do you think is the biggest issue today for women? We are lucky that in this country, and many others, we have totally equality of education now. My daughter and her peers have exactly the same expectations of success in the classroom and beyond as my son and his peers. This wasn’t the case when I was growing up, so we should celebrate the progress in recent decades. However, many millions of girls are still denied a full education, and Covid has exacerbated this problem. The education of all girls is such a key route out of poverty for many communities globally.
How important is it for women to support each other? I hope we support everyone equally, regardless of the issues which may hold them back. Everybody needs the support of a good mentor, coach or manager at some points in their career to help them fulfil their potential.
What’s your advice to young ladies thinking about their careers? Be prepared for a varied career; your first role will probably be completely different to what you will be doing 10, 20 or 30 years later. So gather skills that are transferrable, and keep an open mind!
Who is your role model? Ellen MacArthur. Sailing was my first love, so I am in awe of what she’s achieved as a yachtswoman, racing solo and non-stop around the world. What she has achieved since retiring from racing is even more incredible, figure-heading the global movement for the Circular Economy. Her foundation has brought sustainability to the agenda of all businesses and has provided fantastic and realistic road maps to help us achieve circularity.
Val Benyon Head of Marketing
Val has been a valued member at Frog since 2014 heading up the marketing team and being the creative brains behind the brand.
What did you dream of doing as a career when you were a little girl? As a little girl, I dreamed of becoming a showjumper or eventer. After moving away from Edinburgh when I was about 9, I was lucky to live in the countryside and had lots of time either out on my bike or horse. I used to compete in local competitions and spent much of my time training, cleaning tack or picking up poop! All good experience!
What advice would you give to women considering pursuing a career in your field? I’d probably recommend gaining a marketing qualification and where possible gain practical experience as early as possible. If you are looking at business or marketing-related studies, I’d recommend courses with a year of practical experience - there are so many good courses to choose from these days. I’ve spent a large majority of my career in male-dominated industries - I’d remind women that their ability, passion and commitment has nothing to do with gender.
What is one piece of advice to all women who are juggling between home and work? This is a tough question. For me personally, I feel like I have never quite achieved enough. Even now, with my children happy at or preparing for university, I wonder whether I could have given more. The advice I would give is: You are good enough - find a balance that works for you and don’t punish yourself for wanting to be a success at work and at home.
Who is your role model? I have two role models: My Mum and my Grandma. We all came from the same mould: hardworking, caring and sometimes a bit hard to please! “If a job is worth doing, it’s worth doing well” would probably be our mantra.
Nicola Green Head of Finance
Nicola has been part of the Frog team since January 2020, overseeing the Finance department and is the master keeper of the purse strings.
What are you most proud of in your career? As part of a company restructure a member of my team was promoted beyond her initial expectations – she thanked me afterwards and said that the time I had spent coaching her had led to the promotion.
What advice would you give your 20-year-old self? The advice I would give 20-year-old me is to not worry about things that are out of your control. And to get enough sleep!
How can young women find mentors? If there are people they admire or respect the way they work approach them directly – they don’t have to be more senior than you we can learn from our colleagues. Most universities will also offer a mentoring programme via the alumni programme. Also, remember you don’t have to have just one mentor – different people will have different skillsets and opinions.
Who is your role model? My role model is my mother. She did not have a good education but put herself through Uni after she had children (working and studying) and went on to become a teacher, rising to be both Head of Subject and Year. She continued to further her education and now has 2 masters and a PhD.
Bev Gardner Customer Service Manager
Bev has managed the Customer Service team since October 2019, assisting stores, parents and children with their biking needs. She’s an all-round helpful lady!
Did you always want to be in Customer Services? I have always enjoyed interacting with people and looking for solutions. It wasn't always my intention to work in Customer Services but I get a great deal of satisfaction from understanding a problem, weighing up the options and making sure I can achieve an appropriate resolution and a happy customer.
What woman has positively impacted you in your career? When I was growing up my Dad was a political leader. At that time Margaret Thatcher and Shirley Williams were strong women in politics and I realised that woman could succeed in a man’s world.
How have you overcome any barriers you have faced, as a woman, in becoming successful in your field? I worked for many years in IT for a company where the majority of the time I would be the only woman in meetings. Instead of feeling intimidated, I felt proud that I was able to get my points across and contribute as much as anyone else in the meeting.
What qualities do you think make a great manager? I believe a great manager is passionate about the job they are doing, cares about their team and is not afraid to work hard to lead by example. It is always good to look for new ideas and improvements and to listen to opinions from your team. Understanding when it is appropriate to delegate and taking responsibility for any actions.
Clare McLen-Howells Office Manager Wales
Clare joined Frog Bikes back in August 2016, and has been keeping the Welsh Office perfectly in check ever since!
Why do you think women make good Office Managers? I think woman make good Office Managers because they are able to easily multi-task. They are also very good at thinking ahead and solving problems before they even happen.
Are there any assumptions about women that you would like to change? Yes, not to be stereotyped for certain jobs, such as a housewife or the person bringing up children. Some women want to reach the top of their chosen career, whether that be a pilot or a teacher.
What do you believe will be the biggest challenges for the generation of women behind you? To be treated equally and to feel that they can trust in their own voice.
If you could meet any women, living or dead, who would it be? Ginger Rogers – as a young woman I loved the old films and really enjoyed watching her dance with Fred Astaire.
As a company, we continue to celebrate the achievements of our team, both men and women alike, collaborating, and working together to make life easier, and support all team members wherever possible.
Through the highs and lows, we stick together regardless of gender and look forward with positivity and realism to create possibilities for the future.