As a woman in tech, a female founder and CEO, and a football coach I am usually in the gender minority.
Supporting gender diversity is, unsurprisingly, something I am passionate about.
My company is Panintelligence an analytics software developer in Leeds and I am also the founder of LeanIn Leeds a women’s leadership network with over 250 members.
It is run entirely by volunteers. We offer free monthly workshops and events which help our members to tap into their potential and build peer support networks.
At the weekend, I am a football coach for a girls’ football team. Having never played a game myself I was convinced by my daughter to set up a girls team at our local club, because she was sick of playing with just boys.
I have now qualified as an FA coach and we have three girls teams, U12s, U10s and U8s in two leagues.
Watching the girls grow in confidence, build new friendships and develop all the life skills that come with playing team sports, is one of the most rewarding things I do.
If you had told me two years ago that I was going to become a football coach, I would have laughed. I didn’t even like football.
The truth is you don’t know what you don’t know, I have not only learned to be a coach, I love it, and I have developed a genuine passion and enthusiasm for the sport, especially at grass roots level.
In fact, I took the day off to take 10 girls to Manchester City Academy to be trained by their coaches.
It was an amazing experience, one we would love to repeat at Leeds United Academy!
More important than finding a new passion, I have seen incredible progress in the girls who play in the teams.
Team sports are essential for developing confidence, discipline, social networks, skills and team working.
These are life skills young people never lose.
My daughter met girls from five different primary schools through football, many of whom then started secondary school together. They are a team for life.
Their personal confidence, friendships and skills have developed through training and playing together.
I realise now the advantage accessible team sports gives young people. We need to make sure our girls have access to the same opportunity as our boys.
Having a son as well, I see both sides. I have attended many business events where sports people are the motivational speakers.
There are many comparisons made between business and sport.
Since becoming a coach I find I am increasingly drawing from my coaching skills and experience as a coach and applying these to the workplace, although I am still a player manager at work, which is something that I am working on changing.
It’s so important organisations facilitate conversations about diversity.
We must help people who are passionate about this agenda to come together.
The diversity agenda is about stripping away the classic boxes of age, gender, race and focusing instead on strengths and talents.
It’s about encouraging and supporting individuals to understand what their strengths and talents really are.
My advice for others is to network, network and network. At every phase of my career, I have surrounded myself with a peer group that has been the supportive sounding board I have needed when making difficult decisions.