Beacon has decided to celebrate International Women’s Day with an interview with our CEO Lisa Cowley. Lisa focuses on what the celebration means to her and the driving force behind her career and achievements.

What does International Women’s Day mean to you?
It is a fantastic way to recognise all the amazing achievements by women around the World today and throughout history. This day helps highlight the struggles and barriers overcome by many women – including historical figures close to home.

Mary Macarthur is a key figure which stands out in my head. She was part of the suffragist movement. In 1910 Mary led the female chain makers to victory in their fight for a minimum wage and led a strike to force employers to a pay rise.

Strong women like Mary are a prime example of how far we have come. Her work, and that of others, should be celebrated and learned from. We need to take time to understand the struggles of the past and learn lessons for the future.

How have you tackled barriers at work?
I am lucky to be working within the charity sector which is progressive and forward thinking, but that’s not to say I have not faced hurdles myself. As a young female I have done my best to prove myself with my actions. I let people see the proof is in the pudding.

Any person who has had negative misconceptions about me I have educated and given information to make them aware of my role and achievements. This is not about proving yourself but making people aware you are a strong individual who is capable of reaching the same targets as any other person.

Which women have inspired you?
As a keen equestrian I was hugely influenced by Pippa Funnell MBE. In 2003, she became the first person in history to win the Rolex Grand Slam of Eventing and has three Olympic medals. She struggled with confidence and her self-esteem for a number of years. But through
perseverance and hard work she become what she is today. However, this was not done easily and took a great deal of guts and sacrifice.   

What wise words would you have for inspiring young women?
The strongest advice I can give anyone is to find a mentor. Guidance is very important and is something which has steered me on the right path. At a young age I was lucky to be influenced by older women in my family who pointed me in the right direction and gave my key advice. Later in my career, I leaned on more senior figures and today I am now returning the favour and helping young women reach their full potential.