The inaugural Women in Flex conference saw a sell-out crowd of 60 gather in the City of London, as The Flexible Space Association (FlexSA) brought together women working in the flexible workspace sector to share, inform and build connections.
The event, organised in partnership with FlexSA member technologywithin, was inspired by the fact that a large number of women work in junior and mid-level roles in the sector but few in the most senior positions, Women in Flex aims to help equip women in their early and mid-careers to progress as far as they can.
FlexSA Executive Director, Jane Sartin, comments: “Since joining the flexible workspace industry four years ago, I have realised that whilst it’s a sector employing many women, including in senior roles, of the operators running 15 or more workspace locations, only one has a female CEO. I’ve also found it challenging to secure female speakers for our conferences.”
With hundreds of members nationwide, FlexSA is the trade association representing the flexible workspace industry in the UK. The event was held in at NewFlex’s XCHG in partnership and sold out well-ahead of the day.
Two lively panel discussions took place. The first, hosted by Zoe Ellis-Moore of Spaces to Places, saw three women in senior roles talk in detail about their career paths, sharing how they’d reached their current roles. Lisa Richardson, People, Policy and Productivity Director at NewFlex Polly Bryan, Head of Operations at Orega and Gemma Meale, Director of People and Culture at Huckletree all spoke.
Bryan talked about looking for and seizing opportunities that might be outside of your every-day role, but offered opportunities for development and to be proactive. She had joined flexible workspace from the hospitality sector, which was a route a number of the event participants shared. Panellists advised the audience to identify people who could support your career ambitions, as well as challenge you to question things and strive to perform well.
The second panel was hosted by Lucy Watts of The Instant Group. The three panellists, Alexandra Livesey, COO at Clockwise Jane Erasmus, Sales & Marketing Director at UBC and Sam Mardon, Director of The Space & Head of Client Experience at Landmark, discussed operational aspects of running flexible workspace.
Changing customer needs, with an increased focus on personalisation of services and space, were highlighted. The benefits of evolving services to meet changing needs was also discussed. The event culminated in a networking reception, with attendees encouraged to make a range of new connections.
Sartin continues: “It was good to be bringing together women working in a wide range of roles at every level, and at a variety of businesses. Speaking to attendees at the evening reception, it was great to hear them say they had been inspired by what they had heard. I hope it will spur them on to continue to build their career in the industry, and seek out new opportunities to develop their skills and experience.”
FlexSA will be looking at future opportunities to further inspire women to develop their careers in the flexible workspace sector.