The 'Hopeful' Pop-up Breakfast with Hope Powell
Catalyst team member Sianna Maclean shares her experience networking at our 'Hopeful' Pop-up Breakfast with women's first-team manager of Brighton & Hove Albion, Hope Powell.
Not a normal start to my Tuesday; rather than heading up to Sussex Innovation in Falmer I was off to a Brighton Chamber breakfast. Being a Pop-up Breakfast, we also had a change of scene. We were at Browns Brasserie in the Lanes. Browns is a beautiful restaurant I have had the pleasure of visiting once before, so I knew to expect a great breakfast.
To get me started along with my first tea of the day, there was lots of networking with Brighton Chamber members. I often found that people had either worked with the Sussex Innovation Centre or were really intrigued by what we do and how the Catalyst team works. After chatting to some friendly faces we sat down to eat. I chose the vegetarian option, but all the plates looked full and delicious. My tea was constantly refilled and there was enough fresh orange juice to swim in.
Conversation over breakfast covered a huge range of subjects including the army, technological advancements in accounting, and vegan products. It was refreshing to discuss such different topics from my usual day-to-day work with incredibly interesting and friendly people. Once we’d finished off our plates, it was time to be inspired by the presentations.
First to speak was Martin from Brighton and Hove Buses, the sponsors of this event, who spoke about the gender disparity in positions and pay. Although the company figures are better compared to the industry average, he stated that they still aren’t good enough. He explained that even though the situation is improving, it’s doing so far too slowly. It was an important reminder of an issue we are all very aware of. The rate of change needs to improve and it was extremely encouraging to know that it is a key focus of a local company.
The theme for the event was ‘The Hopeful Breakfast’ and his talk certainly gave me hope. Another reason for that name was the key speaker, whose name is Hope (stay with me here).
Hope Powell is from Brighton and Hove Albion FC. She spoke of her fascinating career playing football for England, coaching the team, working for the FA and her experiences along the way. One of the key focus points that came across from Hope, and was clearly picked up by the audience through questioning at the end, was that of diversity. It’s an area close to her heart and which she feels strongly about from her own personal experiences.
She very rightly pointed out that she was the only black woman in the room, and that this isn’t a proper reflection of how the world is. Hope is tackling this issue with the team she is currently working with, by ensuring they range in age, experience, and ethnicity. She said the more diverse a group of people are, the better the conversation. If you surround yourself with similar looking people who all probably have similar opinions, you won’t learn and grow and enrich one another. I thought Hope spoke openly and honestly about this issue and I’m glad she did. The more people that tip-toe around it, the easier it is to avoid and forget the issue. I think we all left the event with a renewed perspective, a bag full of business cards and a full stomach.
I had a fantastic time at the Chamber breakfast and I’m glad the opportunity to go was given to me this morning. I would highly recommend their events, if not for the great networking experience, then for the inspirational speakers and enjoyable atmosphere. Check out their other events and be sure to sign up before they sell out!
Thanks to Sianna for writing this blog.