Archive for the ‘Women in Business’ Category

Cracking the Diversity Code with Gillian Keating

June 2, 2018

Gillian Keating - I WISH

Greg had the pleasure recently of chatting with a great friend of Fuzion’s, Gillian Keating and capturing this for an episode of our Win Happy podcast.

Gillian, a Partner with RDJ Solicitors and a former President of Cork Chamber is a true ground breaker.

She was the first female President of Cork Chamber, a role that she fully embraced and from there she went on to make even more impact as one of the founders of the I WISH diversity programme.

I WISH was founded to address the low levels of women participating in STEM by targeting transition year students and encouraging them to consider careers in the relevant disciplines.

In the podcast Greg chats with Gillian about the value of hard work, coping with disappointments, pushing yourself outside your comfort zone, gender equality, diversity and “Cracking the Cork Code“.

I hope you enjoy the show!

Click here to listen to the show

Fuzion Win Happy podcast thumbnail

Dee

Deirdre Waldron - Network Ireland PresidentDeirdre Waldron is the founding partner of Fuzion Communications a Marketing, PR and Graphic Design firm with offices in Dublin and Cork, Ireland

How do you tell your story?

March 26, 2017

Gina London - Fuzion Communications

At the beginning of this month I had the privilege of being the Master of Ceremonies for the first Cork University Business School (CUBS) conference.

The theme was “Shaping Ireland’s Future” and the list of impressive speakers included top business leaders, entrepreneurs and broadcasters. From Marissa Brown, one of Ireland’s most successful business women and creator of Cocoa Brown to Harry McCann, the founder of the first digital youth council of the world. Each person sharing their vision, their journey and their story.

And it’s precisely how they tell their story – how well they communicate – that will largely mark each one of the speakers as the successes they are.  Research shows that when you line up people with equal competencies, the better communicators will always have the competitive edge.

As a former CNN reporter and anchor, I first learned the power of communications the lens of journalism: how to write compelling copy that hooks a viewer. After my days at CNN, I managed international campaigns – for politicians – like the first female parliamentary candidates in Iraq and opposition parties in Egypt – and on issues – like increasing immunization awareness in Cambodia.

Today, as a strategic consultant with Fuzion Communications, I see communications as a solid combination of style and strategy.

What does that have to do with you?

Quick!

Without any further preamble from me, find someone and shake their hand.

What did you get? 

Did every single one of you deliver a warm, firm embrace? Fingers curling around the other person’s hand with the pads of your fingers making contact with their hand in a meaningful way? Did you clasp for a full second or two?

Or did some of you find that you shook hands with a limp, dead fish!? Or who got the arm wrestler – the squeezer of death?

Why do I make a big deal about a handshake?

Because it’s often the very first thing we do when we’re introduced to someone – and for many of us – we don’t have any idea about whether we’re doing it right – or even if there is a right way or a wrong way.

But make no mistake – how you shake hands does send a message.  Think about it. What does shaking hands with the arm wrestler or the dead fish say to you?  Every time you interact with someone – you are communicating something – either by design or by default.

Whether I am working with clients or participating in a business conference like the upcoming CUBS event, I constantly witness that:

“Communications is not a soft-skill,  it’s a critical skill.”

Thankfully, communications is also a skill that can be learned – and put into action for better results – in every part of your lives.

Any time you have what I call a “communication event” – you are either moving your relationship forward or backward with that other person – or people – in your work and in your personal life. I mention both, because we aren’t two different people – we don’t have a professional life and a personal life – we just have a life.

For instance, applying skillful communications is critical when you first have a big idea. How are you going to pitch your product, platform or service? Even more than the market research and the projection numbers, the story you tell will either connect or not connect – with your intended audience.

How do you take the kernel of an idea, or, as you mature in your field, the depth of your knowledge and best communicate that kernel or knowledge -to various audiences? It takes emotional intelligence and communications training.

This past spring, the University of Florida officially announced a new translational communications centre dedicated to making science and tech better understood by all. They understand the importance of training scientists how to communicate to a lay audience.

There are two main facets of any communication event: content and delivery – and there are teachable strategies around each.

Before you create any content, you need to apply an AIM strategy. This is devised by Stanford University as Audience. Intent. Message. In that order.

1. AUDIENCE. Take a moment to consider who is in your audience.

Are they new-hires or veterans? Senior management or the executive board? Women or men or both? Do they prefer Elvis or the Beatles? Tea or coffee? PC’s or Macs?

Every audience is different. Try to get inside their heads. What are their hopes, dreams and fears? 

I sometimes ask clients to write their agenda. Then write a second agenda from their audience’s point of view. Then I have them throw out their agenda and begin again from the second one!

2. INTENT. Your intent is never simply to inform. If you’re just doing that, then put your information in an email and hit the send button. You must be trying to motivate or inspire your audience to some sort of action. Define your goal very clearly. Too often I see this one overlooked. The goal is too broad and ill-defined. What is it exactly that you want your audience to do after you’re finished speaking? Even if it’s just to agree to another meeting. That’s okay. Be very specific.

3. MESSAGE. Only after you have deliberated points 1 and 2 should you move on to craft your message. Like intent, this must be clear too. Write it down. One sentence! Here’s the definition I learned from organizing campaigns:

 A message is “brief, memorable, repeatable, emotional and data-backed”

But it’s not only the data. While supportive, taken stand-alone, data dumps are often dry and boring. Your message is your call to action. Your spoken declaration of your written intent. Your motivation! State it clearly and state it often. Don’t assume your audience is just “getting it!”

Next! Now that you’ve crafted content, How do you deliver your message?

Think of presentation delivery as three legs of a stool, – words, para-lingual and body language.

1. WORDS. Use powerful, colourful, imaginative words. Don’t waffle or equivocate. Be bold. Choose active verbs not flat ones. Go for it in your word choice! Have you heard those people who say words are only 7 to 10 percent of communications?? Try watching a foreign film without subtitles and tell me if you understand 90-93 percent of what’s going on!! The words do matter!

2. PARA-LINGUAL. This mouthful just means the way we say our words. The tone, the pace, the volume, the pitch. These are tools we naturally vary when we’re talking to family and friends, but often get left behind when we deliver “business stuff.” When we don’t use them, they leave us sounding robotic, rote, dull and lifeless! You got ’em for football and rugby matches. Don’t leave them at home when you go to work!

3. BODY LANGUAGE. Whether we like it or not, unless we’re master poker players, our bodies are always “leaking” our emotions. And people are always reading us. How we hold our arms, our hands. Does your listening or concentrating face look interested or disinterested? Other people notice, so, take some ownership and get retrained to appear more engaged.

As we look to the future of Ireland’s economy, business leaders too, must learn how to improve their communications. Across vertical silos. Across countries and oceans too.

Like it or not, Brexit proponents and Donald J. Trump discovered how to break down and communicate potentially complicated messages in a simple way to reach their targeted audiences.  While critics may argue that those simpler messages also played on a constituency’s anger or fear, imagine what can happen when one creates simple, captivating messages that seek to inspire and motivate people to positive action?

It’s not too soon – or too late – to get started getting deliberate about your communications. Great communications equals great relationships in business and in life.

Thank you CUBS for such a fantastic event!

Gina London - Fuzion CommunicationsGina

Gina London is an award-winning former CNN correspondent who now serves as director of Strategic Communications at Fuzion Communications with offices in Dub;in and Cork, Ireland.

Cumulus Clouds and First Women.

August 4, 2016

Aer Lingus - Captain Grainne Cronin

I was having a super meeting with a new client last week, you know those round table moments when everyone is on the same page and all getting excited about the strategy and the jobs to be done to bring this to life.

We started discussing “Leaning In” and progressed to the first Aer Lingus female pilot. I recalled a conversation long ago with my Dad, who trained Aer Lingus pilots. Avoiding answering the question about what I had achieved in school that day, I pushed back to Dad and enquired what had he achieved?

He started talking about how he was training the first Aer Lingus female pilot, and that they had been working in the Simulator that day. Months later I saw a shot on the front of the paper (her first flight was in January, 1978) of Captain Grainne Cronin, sitting in the cockpit proudly, after receiving her wings. (the pic above was a retirement pic in 2010 after 33 years as a pilot)

I headed off to chat to Dad; “Was that the same girl that he was in the Simulator with?” “Yes”, he replied “ and what is going to make her so great is that she saw beyond the Cumulus clouds and really worked hard to achieve her goal. Sometimes when you are a woman you have to push yourself even more to grab hold of your dreams”.

Because of Captain Cronin’s dream and hard work breaking the mould, many other women were empowered to follow their dreams, and Aer Lingus now employs more female pilots that the global average of around 10%.

So let us ladies take a moment and celebrate the ‘first women’, those who break new ground and make the rest of us realise that we can go as far as our capabilities allow: Presidential Nominee Hillary Rodham Clinton, President Mary Robinson, Attorney General Maire Whelan and Chief Justice Susan Denham.

Ladies and Gentleman fasten your seat belts we are going through the Cumulus clouds, Have a safe flight!

Aisling White - FuzionAisling White 

Aisling White is an Account Director with Fuzion PR, Marketing and Graphic Design based in our office in Dublin, Ireland

Let’s be Women for Women, not Women versus Women!

August 2, 2016

Pregnant woman on the train

Is empowerment simply respecting each other?

I am not usually the one in the crowd flying the flag up high for us females. I’m more of a carry on as is type of gal, but when I need to voice my opinion “you’re going to hear me”!

While this is not my usual type of blog post, I feel that this topic needs to be discussed.

Inspired by the events of my run-of-the mill daily commute, I began to wonder “is empowerment simply respecting each other, or is there more to it?

It was one of those ‘everything is late’ mornings and following my arrival to Heuston train station I came to find the enormous queue for the 145 bus. By the time I finally got on the bus there was only standing (with your face against the wall) space left – tight spots aren’t really a problem for me….I’m 5ft 2.5” and if your vertically challenged like me then you know that half means everything!

As the bus pulled out of Heuston Station, I scanned my surroundings, noticing the sea of commuters poised over their phones, drowning out the rest of the world’s noise with their headphones. While this is not an unusual sight for anyone commuting to work in the morning, what really grabbed my attention was a lady looking fairly snug amongst the human bus blanket, who had a neat little baby bump to match.

She was standing near the wheelchair space. I asked if she would like me to get her a seat but she declined (there wasn’t any so I was going to have to ask someone to get up! I’m nice like that!).

One of my reasons for asking her was because the women sitting on the pull-down chair in the wheelchair space pretended not to notice her while continuously staring at her bump, which did not go unnoticed by other passengers. Plus the fact that three other women were also glaring at her with eyes that screamed and sounded like our own mothers saying “Get up and have some manners – that might be you some day”.

I’m sure I am not the only person that has been in this position before or has had these thoughts. I am not a mother or a mother to be, but I am a daughter and I was raised to care, to be vigilant, to have manners and respect.

This action, or lack thereof, genuinely annoyed me but also left me feeling a little guilty. Was it my place to point out her ignorance or do I just carry on about my business because the woman standing could have asked for the seat herself?

suffragettes

But this poses the question: Why should she have to ask?

Do we not have enough respect for each other in this day and age to just be nice? My mother always says “If you don’t ask, then you don’t get and then you’ll never know the answer!”.

I guess my point is that I tried to change the situation on the bus by empowering myself to point out my frustration, that simply the lady is pregnant and give her your seat!! I thought my actions would empower those around me to offer up their seats but no – the frustrating fact is that in some situations people don’t want to be empowered.

They actually just don’t care – This is also frustrating because it’s the truth of the world we live in today!

There are many valid questions for this and it shone a light on my way of thinking for the first time ever concerning ‘Women v Women’ and the role of supporting each other not just in work, but in everyday life.

So I asked the Google gods and found loads of websites in reference to the topic. After a lot of reading I decided that for me it’s not just about women empowering women, it’s about empowering each other in general and also finding ways of empowering yourself.

Then there’s realising the fact that there is always going to be that person who will never give up her seat – I know shock-horror!

Here are some of the points I came across that I thought might be useful or at least thought provoking:

  • A lot of empowerment is about the ability to read through the lines and spotting opportunities – remembering sometimes someone’s advice is to help, not to set you back. I think this gets easier to recognise as you get older!
  • Be a mentor, not a competitor
  • Promote each other and don’t be afraid to promote yourself
  • Give yourself a break, give each other a break
  • Educate and empower others, who will then empower others and so on
  • Lastly, don’t be the pregnant lady not asking for the seat to sit down and don’t be the lady pretending not to notice the pregnant lady that needs to sit down!

Let’s be Women for Women, not Women v Women

Arlene Foy, Fuzion PR, Marketing Graphic Design, DublinArlene

Arlene Foy is an Account Manager with Fuzion PR in our Dublin office.

Hillary – get over your glass ceilings!  

July 27, 2016

Hillary Clinton

OK, it is really great that for the first time there is a female candidate for the US Presidential Election, long overdue and everyone bar middle America is in agreement that she is the best person for the job – probably by default!  

But.. I am so over “glass ceilings”.

Hillary heralded her nomination victory as the “biggest crack in that glass ceiling” with a montage of the previous 44 male US presidents accompanied by the sound and vision of breaking glass.

I groaned when I saw it so my other half said (as he always says!) – “OK write a blog about it”.

Hillary went on to say “Little girls, who stayed up late to watch, I may be the first woman President but one of you is next”.

Can we please get rid of this idea of a glass ceiling now!

Personally I don’t believe in them and I never have. I think there are some professions out there, like politics, that are not conducive to women, especially women who have young families. I think it’s not the glass ceiling we need to break, but we need to re-set the foundations by looking at the rules, social norms, conventions and structures that are in place preventing talented women getting to whatever level they want to get to.

I also believe that as women we have to take some responsibility for this.  

Sheryl Sandberg told a great story in her book – ‘Lean In‘. She was heavily pregnant, running late for a meeting and couldn’t find a parking space near the office, so she had to trek a long distance from the back of the car park to get to her meeting. She barged into the meeting, late, uncomfortable and probably a little cranky and asked why there weren’t any allocated parking slots nearer the office, for pregnant employees.

The answer was no one ever asked for them!

The ‘powers that be’ thought this was a great idea and very soon afterwards this policy was implemented.

If we want to get to the top – be it in our business or in our careers, I believe we, as women, need to ask for what we need or help to facilitate change – we must be proactive in resetting the foundations.

I have been working very closely with Enterprise Ireland (EI) over the past few months in my role as President of Network Ireland.

They recognise the fact that as women we need to be more assertive – but they use a much more positive word: “ambitious”.  

Enterprise Ireland have put programmes in place to encourage female entrepreneurs, as they know that businesses run by women have a better chance of succeeding. Their stats prove that women are hesitant about applying for grants and supports, unless they tick every single box – whereas a male counterpart in general will go for every opportunity and worry about matching the criteria afterwards!  

EI’s strategies around nurturing ambition in female entrepreneurs are working and they have seen the number of females on their programmes jump from 7% in 2011 to 22% in 2015.  

We also have a responsibility to support each other.

Hillary, instead of giving the “little girls at home” a ‘call to action’ she should be looking behind her or in front of her at the podium and saying “your turn is next”. It’s the responsibility of all of us to help others up the ladder or pass the torch.

As Madeleine Albright, another US Secretary of State put it ”There’s a special place in hell for women who don’t help other women”.

Let’s hope Hillary will remember Madeleine’s wise words and has less of the breaking glass and more of the actions that really support other women to get as far as they can.  

Actions speak so much louder than words or cool AV effects!

As to Hillary becoming the next President of the USA – I hope she is successful in her campaign, not because she is a woman, or the best possible candidate, but because like most people in Ireland I’m an anything but Trump girl!  But that’s for another blog……

Deirdre 

Deirdre Waldron - Network Ireland PresidentDeirdre Waldron is the founding partner of Fuzion

Fuzion are a Marketing, PR and Graphic Design firm with offices in Dublin and Cork, Ireland

Deirdre Waldron – Madam President is Fuelling Ambition for Professional Women in Ireland

January 19, 2016

 

Deirdre Waldron President Network Ireland

Fuzion are very proud to announce that our Managing Partner, Deirdre Waldron has just taken over as National President of Network Ireland.

Deirdre has been involved with the organisation for many years and in that time she has held roles including PRO of the Cork Branch, President of the Cork Branch, PRO of the Network Ireland and as of 16th January 2016 she is officially Madam President!

She has very ambitious plans for the organisation, which she has outlined in her “Fuelling Ambition” manifesto and for anyone who knows Deirdre all of this will be realised!

Network Ireland

In Deirdre’s own words..

2016 for me is going to be a very big year as I take over as National President of Network Ireland, one of the largest organisations representing professional women from all walks of life.

It’s a big year for me as I lead the organisation through a re-brand, expansion plans and some very exciting and high profile events and activities, partnering with some of Ireland’s biggest and best public and private organisations, culminating in our national conference returning to Cork City in September 2016.

Through my engagement with Network Ireland since 2008 I have connected with some amazing people and made many great friendships and am proud and excited about my new role and responsibilities.

One of the first tasks for 2016, was picking a strong theme for my year, that will resonate with our very diverse national membership and professional women from every walk of life in Ireland.

The theme I have chosen is “Fuelling Ambition” and it’s really a strong “call to action” for me as President, for our National Executive, our Branches, for all our members and I hope for all of the women in business we engage with in 2016.

I believe as professional women, we need to become far more ambitious for ourselves, to challenge ourselves and each other so that we can fulfill our untapped potential. We bring so much to the table and this is starting to be recognised, but we have a role to play to make sure that our voices are heard loud and clear in our businesses, organisations, in our regions and nationally.

As a national organisation in 2016 I want Network Ireland to be more ambitious. We are a strong organisation with eight regional branches and a membership of over 500 of the most tenacious, talented and creative professional women from all sectors. We have the unique opportunity to be the voice for professional women in Ireland supporting and encouraging each other as we develop our careers and businesses.

In 2016, my wish would be for all professional women to forget about glass ceilings and focus on fuelling our ambitions collectively and as individuals – taking us through every glass ceiling that we think is in our way.   

There has never been a better time to be a professional woman.

Finally culture is changing and slowly but surely the powers that be are recognising that women at the decision making tables makes for better business. And if any proof was needed, a recent global study showed that boards with over 30% female representation faired much better through the recession than boards with fewer or no female representation. Network Ireland is determined to play its part in ensuring that we fuel the ambition of professional women so they can fulfil their potential and we can increase representation.    

As an organisation, Network Ireland gets valuable support from organisations such as Enterprise Ireland and the Local Enterprise Offices. They recognise the role that women have to play and are very proactive in helping women achieve their full potential.

We have also received support from other organisations such as AIB, European Parliament Information Office and the Local Enterprise Offices and many others who want to bring more women to the decision making tables in our region and nationally.

I’d love it if every single person reading this would ask themselves – how can they fuel their own ambition?

Don’t wait for something good to happen – you can make it happen for yourself, in your career or in your business. This can be done by connecting with like minded individuals so that you can encourage and support each other and we do so much of this for women through Network Ireland, through our regional and national events and our ongoing engagement with each other on social media.

There is also a strong learning dimension with Network Ireland as we carefully choose topics of interest and experts from their respective fields to speak and participate in our range of events during the year. We always make sure that there is a big social side to what we do as a relaxed and fun atmosphere can be the best way to network!    

So this year, let us all help each other to fuel our ambitions, drive on in our careers and in our businesses – so by this time next year we can all say we have had a great year because we achieved what we wanted to achieve and of course, we had fun in the process.

Deirdre Waldron - Fuzion PRWell said Deirdre … Network Ireland and all of the professional women that are represented throughout the country are lucky to have you!

Deirdre Waldron is a Managing Partner with Fuzion PR, Marketing and Design who have offices in Dublin and Cork, Ireland

 


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