International Women's Day 2023: Role models and sources of support

International Women's Day 2023: Role models and sources of support

Posted: Wed 8th Mar 2023

In honour of International Women's Day 2023, we're urging women in business to celebrate their role models and the people they've turned to for support.

We all need someone to look up to – someone who's a great role model in life or in business. In turn, we hope we are that person for others as they start out on their business journey.

And is there any better feeling than when one of your female counterparts reaches out to support you, or you hear that they mentioned your name in right place?

We spoke to some of our Irish female business owners to find out who they admire and to tell us about a time they've had the support of other women in business.

Which female business founders do you admire?

Síne Dunne: Santis O'Garro, owner of The Caribbean Dub, who makes budgeting easy. Her brand is clear and focused, and she leads with authenticity and knowledge.

Gillian Daly: One lady I really admire, who I've been lucky enough to call a client, is Annabel Karmel. She's proven over the years that she has the passion, skills and talent to achieve an amazing longevity in her career.

She's embraced technology, where others have shied away from it, to create a chart-topping app and a very buzzy, fun and informative social media presence. She's also a really lovely person: genuine, warm and authentic and also a great supporter of other women.

Linda Monahan: My best pal Sarah Naylor. We met on the Thrive Business course in 2020 and became firm friends.

Sarah is my accountability buddy and her journey over the past three years has been phenomenal – through resilience, hard work and an innate want to help others. Her business is going from strength to strength and I'm so excited to see where her journey leads her.

Sarah-Marie Rust: Melanie Perkins, who founded Canva and grew it into the world's most valuable female-founded and -lead start-up, despite being turned down by over 100 VCs.

And Sheryl Sandberg, who's most known for being Meta's COO and growing the company into a profitable business in less than two years.

Both have shown incredible resilience and agility in their work, thriving on the challenges they received.

Sarah Naylor: Sam Barry, editor of Glamour. I met her virtually a couple of years ago and I reached out and connected on social.

She offered to pay it forward to the women of the world in celebration of International Women's Day. The prize was one-to-one mentoring with one of her amazing friends.

She hooked me up with Katherine Hirst, an executive coach who was working with Tory Burch. The support I got from these women was incredible: no ulterior motive, so refreshing and felt so right.

I'd love if this was always the way. Maybe it will be when we as women have confidence in ourselves and stop comparing.

Samantha Kelly: I admire Oonagh O'Hagan, Susan Hayes, Mary McKenna, Marissa Carter, Gina London and Aine McManamon, my VA who's super-talented and efficient and helps me do what I do. Kindness is a quality I admire and anyone who works hard and gets stuff done.

Tara Elzingre: Katie Doyle from MentorHer. When I first started my business in April 2021, I turned to MentorHer and I've been with the programme since.

Katie is truly inspirational, in both her capacity to spot a great business opportunity and how she's shaping and moving the way forward for women.

Maria Morgan: I really admire Jo Malone and Jamie Kern Lima, the co-founder of IT Cosmetics. They're both really passionate about their products and their whole purpose was to help people.

They also treated people really well and have had the same teams of people all the way through their businesses. And even though they've become hugely successful, it's never changed them.

Who has given you support, advice or guidance?

Síne Dunne: Women have always supported me. I seek out bright women who know their worth and are relentlessly vocal. Often support happens behind closed doors. Aoife Desmond has always supported me publicly.

I've so many examples but one stands out – it was a project that others were claiming credit for. She spoke up when I wasn't in the room, to assign ownership of the idea to me. I heard through someone else and it made me feel so proud. Now she's a great friend.

Gillian Daly: I'm so lucky to have been massively supported by lots of other women in business. On multiple occasions I've had other PR professionals and creatives put work my way as they thought I'd be a good fit with the brand.

In turn I've also passed work along to those who had a skillset more suited to the job. I really feel like I have a good crew of supportive businesswomen (and men!) in my corner who are generous with their support and advice. I think we can never underestimate the power of the network!

Linda Monahan: One woman who stands out is Helena Gilhooly from BusyBeaders & BusyTweeters. Helena uses her platform to continually support others and she'll share a product or service she believes in. She's the true definition of women supporting women.

Sarah-Marie Rust: I've continuously been supported by women throughout my business career – whether they were co-workers, mentors, investors, friends or family.

Sarah Naylor: Women both support me and despise me on the daily. The confident women who only care about themselves, in the sense that they mind their own business and do what makes them happy, are the first to lend a helping hand or words of wisdom, guidance and support.

These women aren't interested in the drama and they don't compare themselves to you or others.

Samantha Kelly: Marissa Carter sponsored a ticket for me to attend an event, which was really kind as I couldn't afford it at the time. Mary McKenna gave me an opportunity to go to the US on a press trip as a social media influencer, which was a wonderful experience. There are so many others.

Tara Elzingre: I've just recently completed a six-week mentorship with Caroline Gleeson from Occupop through the MentorHer programme. From the beginning, Caroline has been exactly what you want in a mentor.

She's challenged me, championed me, connected me with others. She's shared her knowledge and, most importantly, has shown up.

It was an incredibly empowering experience to have a weekly call with her for six weeks where no stone was left unturned. I truly felt like she was in the trenches with me, willing me on to the next step.

Maria Morgan: I have a great mentor in Christine Courtney, who I did my aromatherapy training with. She's always brilliant at being a sounding board if I need help or advice, or if I have a problem and I'm not really sure which direction to take.

Samantha Kelly is very good. She's very helpful and she got me an opportunity to appear on RTÉ Nationwide. That was a great support.

I think when you treat people well, they remember it. And when you're helpful, they remember that too.

Relevant resources

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