Emily Smith: Why I’m proud to be a Santander UK Mentor

April 23, 2024

AVW Fabrications Managing Director describes why she's taking part in UK programme

Managing Director Emily Smith has been selected to mentor women in business for the Santander UK Breakthrough Women Business Leaders programme.

Here she explains what the role involves - and why she is taking part.

I often speak about my experience as a female business leader in an industry largely comprising men.

When starting out in manufacturing, it didn’t take long for me to recognise that there was a distinct opportunity.

There was a clear pool of potential recruits - and it could be developed through supporting and elevating female entrepreneurs.

That’s one reason I volunteer as an Enterprise Adviser with the the Leicestershire Careers Hub - going into local schools and colleges to talk to all young people about careers in manufacturing.

I myself have benefited from the support of other women in leadership positions.

Through networks such as the East Midlands Chamber’s Enterprising Women I’ve built partnerships and gained insights.

So it’s been a long-standing intention of mine - when the time is right - to pass on my knowledge and experience. I know how valuable it can be.

That’s why it was an easy decision when I was asked if I would be interested in being a mentor on the Santander UK Breakthrough Women Business Leaders Mentoring programme.

At the programme’s recent launch event I joined 107 other mentors as we embarked on a mission to empower 151 women in business from across the UK.

I was proud to be there and be a part of it, for several reasons including:

  • Economic potential. Only 1 in 5 firms are female-led - yet the opportunity is staggering. The potential economic uplift that a balanced gender presence in leadership could introduce is an estimated 6% in GDP. Globally, that is worth an estimated $3 trillion.
  • Success rates. Statistics and failure rates are stacked against all businesses when they start. This becomes more relevant with female-led firms, as there are fewer of them.The Santander programme has a 95% success rate - showing what women in business can achieve with the right support.
  • Collaboration opportunities. Having been part of the team that led MSSL to carbon neutral status in 2022, I know how important collaboration can be. Mentoring goes further than just offering 1:1 support. Building relationships has the potential to create networks and collaboration opportunities.

There’s so much value in listening to others, coming together and realising we all face the same challenges.

It’s why I’m so proud to be a Santander mentor - the potential clearly exists when it comes to women in business. I’m looking forward to meeting my mentees and realising that growth.

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