Women Urged To Favour ‘Portfolio Career’ Over Career Ladder

Irish women should forget about a neat linear progression up a career ladder and instead focus on maximising their flexibility and multi-tasking skills to carve out a portfolio career.

That was the message delivered by Julie O’Neill at a special event held in Dublin on Tuesday evening to celebrate International Women’s Day.

The event in the Davenport Hotel was attended by more than 300 business leaders and entrepreneurs who gathered to soak up advice and inspiration from an expert panel consisting of some of the country’s most successful business women, including Ms O’Neill, Strategic Management Consultant at Join the Dots, former Secretary General of the Department of Transport and board member at Ryanair.

The ‘Celebration, Connection and Inspiration for Women in Business in Dublin’ event, sponsored by Deloitte, was organised by Dublin Chamber of Commerce and the Women in Business networks from Fingal, Dublin City and Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown LEOs.

Ms O’Neill told the audience:

“A portfolio career really suits women with our innate flexibility and capacity for multi-tasking. Forget about a nice, neat linear progression up a career ladder. There is no reason why you can’t dip in and out of a career and visualise it continuing into your 70s. Take a long term perspective and don’t be panicked by gaps and pauses. Just build a portfolio of interests you love and enjoy whether you’re working full-time, part-time, an entrepreneur, an employee or a stay at home mum right now. Many women are at their most creative and productive in their 40s, 50s and beyond.”

Other speakers at the event included Ciara Troy, founder of sushi producer Oishii Sushi, Lisa Smith, founder of mentoring company EngageSmith, Edel Creely, Group Managing Director at IT support solutions provider Trilogy Technologies and Karen Frawley, Partner in professional services and consulting firm Deloitte. Each of the speakers provided a window into how they have made it to the top in their respective fields.

Deloitte’s Karen Frawley told the audience:

“Diversity and inclusion are part of our key values at Deloitte – not just because it is the right thing to do but there is also a strong case that diverse environments drive higher levels of performance and innovation. The current trend within many businesses is for women to leave before they reach leadership positions. This is something that we are looking to address at Deloitte, and while there is still some way to go, we are making progress in this regard. Through mentoring programmes, and alleviating some of the structural obstacles that have previously existed, we are seeing this imbalance being redressed over time. What’s great about events like this evening’s is that we can discuss the multitude of demands on our time honestly, and most importantly, we can discuss constructively about how these can be managed. And that is both refreshing and productive.”

Speaking about the importance of celebrating the important role played by women in the world of business, Eibhlin Curley, the new female head of DLR LEO, said:

“The number of female entrepreneurs is growing in this country with 9,000 new startups in 2015, however this figure lags significantly behind that of male startups according to the GEM Report (Global Entrepreneurship Monitoring Report 2014). The inspiration and strategic thinking from events such as this are hugely important to building confidence, contacts and knowledge for entrepreneurs starting and growing businesses. Members of the Local Enterprise Office networks, who are owner managers benefit enormously from networking with female leaders from the corporate world. Ní neart go cur le chéile. “

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