Women who inspire – attended by Rethink Interiors

Last Thursday we attended an evening of ‘Women Who Inspire’ hosted by NEWH UK and sponsored by The BCFA. After arriving at the UBM Head Office, we admired the night views over London before settling down to listen to four inspirational ladies.

First up was Ariane Steinbeck, Managing Director at RPW Design Ltd. Ariane joined RPW 18 months ago after a varied career across many continents. Arian focused on five main life rules, the final of which resonated with us all – ‘be kind’. You never know whose paths you are going to cross or how your connections will influence you in the future; by being kind to those you meet along the way you can make your life and theirs much more pleasant! Married with two children, Ariane learnt the hard way that no one thanks you or respects you more for trying to be one of the guys – work life balance is important. She also pointed out that not everyone is going to like you, but also you cannot be everyone’s friend. You can have it all, it just might not all go perfectly at the same time!

Following Ariane was Margaret Miller, Chairman of Knightsbridge Furniture. Margaret has been a long-standing advocate of the contract furnishings industry for over 50 years, and was awarded The BCFA ‘Lifetime Achievement Award’ in 2014. Margaret has seen a lot of changes of attitudes towards women throughout her career. Having worked hard to prove she is not just a pretty face, Margaret has worked her way up the ranks of Knightsbridge Furniture as well as leading the way for it to make the transition from a retail company to a successful contract furnishings one. Margaret reiterated to the crowd how important it is to make the most of all opportunities that are presented to you, including our right to vote.

Next was Caroline Cundall, Director Interior Design of IHG. Caroline has a fascinating background in fashion design where she ran her own fashion company in New Zealand before moving to London to follow her dream of working in interior design. Caroline spent many years struggling to get a desirable work / life balance – her personal desire for perfection combined with projects far and wide which meant a lot of travelling found her feeling somewhat of a workaholic. We were pleased to hear that Caroline appears to have now achieved a comfortable work / life balance!

Last but not least, Lauren Steadman, World Champion Paralympian took to the stage. Lauren’s story started when she was born without her lower right arm. Her parents never treated her differently and always supported her in her desire to do as much as possible herself. Lauren’s key message focused on perseverance – don’t let anyone tell you what you can and can’t do. There is always something or someone who can help you break down boundaries whether it is friends, family, or work colleagues; a team effort will make things attainable. Lauren shared with us that sometimes it is worth re-evaluating goals or adjusting paths in order to keep challenging yourself in an enjoyable way (this was from her personal experience of getting stuck in a rut with swimming, and switching to triathlons instead).

In summary we learnt that hard work and dedication will always pay off – it may not always in the way you may anticipate, but you will gain a sense of achievement if you put your all into something. There is always a way to achieve goals, although it may mean requesting assistance from others in order to find a solution. However, it is important to maintain a strong work / life balance as it is your friends and family that will be there through thick and thin to help support you when times are hard, therefore it is important to maintain those relationships. For the sake of all our sanity’s we must strive for downtime and having fun to revitalise ourselves!

Life can make you do crazy things in order to prove yourself, but only persevere with the crazy if it’s to prove to yourself you can achieve something, not to prove it to others. Know your limits and don’t burn yourself out.

Be yourself; everyone else is taken. – Oscar Wilde

Find out more about NEWH UK https://newh.org/chapters/united-kingdom/

Find out more about The BCFA by visiting their website www.thebcfa.com