Throughout March, we are celebrating International Women’s Day by sharing the stories of inspiring women in leadership positions across the sectors we work in.

Wendy Sutherland has spent over 30 years in the hospitality sector, specialising in foodservice. After 9 years at senior leadership level, Wendy moved to consultancy within the sector, setting up her own business in 2013.

Running this successful business for 10 years, Wendy has more recently become a qualified executive coach and runs her own coaching business, also volunteering her time as a Trustee at Stratford School Academy.

How do you inspire inclusion in your work and life?

By encouraging those around me to have an open mind and seeing perspectives from different viewpoints.

What are some of the biggest challenges facing women in leadership positions today?

The hospitality sector has been more open than most to encouraging and supporting female leaders — other industries should take notice.

Women need to conquer their imposter syndrome and be prepared to not have all the answers.  Society has been changing to give women a voice, but women now must be prepared to use it.

Have you faced any obstacles or resistance as a woman in a leadership position, and if so, how did you overcome it?

My biggest obstacle was me.

I wouldn’t push for a new role until I felt I had all of the experience needed, which led to some frustration when men were going past me who were less experienced.

Developing self-belief and being prepared to be uncomfortable has taken time to learn.

What is the most noticeable win for gender equality you’ve witnessed throughout your career?

A recent example is where on joining a Board as a Trustee there were only two women on a Board of 10 people.  Within 24 months both the Chair and Vice-Chair were women, and  the gender divide was 50/50.

Do you have any final thoughts you would like to share?

It is incumbent on us all to support diversity. Providing time and space for people ‘not like us’ is how we move from ignorance towards the creation of a joint dialogue.

Eddie Caviezel Cox is our Managing Consultant for schools, MATs and education charities and an expert in finding and recruiting the right people in all areas of the education sector, having worked in recruitment throughout his career. He brings a person-centred, values-led approach to all projects to ensure that the leaders he is placing are the right people to take organisations of great social importance forwards. By placing the right leaders in schools, multi-academy trusts and education charities, we are able to make a difference where it matters most. You can connect with Eddie on LinkedIn or send him an email.