One got sent on a typing course so she could ‘work with machinery’ after telling careers advisors she wanted to be an engineer, another was a teenage bus driver and the third became a book-keeper.
But all three women now share one proud claim – they have each played a major part in breaking the manufacturing mould in Sheffield’s male-dominated industrial scene.
Anne Wilson MBE, the boss of Numill Engineering Ltd, Marie Cooper, plant manager at Parker Hannifin and Bridie Warner-Adsetts, chief operating officer at Naylor Industries, will be sharing their inspirational stories at an event to celebrate International Women’s Day on Tuesday, March 8.
“These driven and dynamic women will talk about Breaking the Mould – Women in Manufacturing, and what motivated them to get there,” said Jackie Freeborn, event organiser and chair of the Women In Business Group at Barnsley & Rotherham Chamber of Commerce.
The women will be interviewed at the Tankersley Manor event by former Star women’s editor and business writer Jo Davison.
Bridie Warner-Adsetts wanted to be an engineer from her teens. She strayed into financial management for 10 years before returning to manufacturing and is a strong advocate for encouraging girls and women into engineering and manufacturing. At Naylor Industries the number of female managers has increased from five to 18 in five years and its board is 50 per cent female. “The fortunes of the company have improved along the same trajectory,” she says.
Anne Wilson’s Sheffield company repairs and manufactures cutting tools.
The daughter of a Manor Park bus driver and canteen cook who left school at 16, she retrained from banking after her mum died, taking night school classes alongside work and joining Numill on Balaclava Road as a book-keeper in 2000.
She became commercial manager, then bought the company in 2006 and saved it from the recession and grew it overseas.
The mum and grandmother is now managing director and was Business Woman of the Year in the 2014 Forward Ladies Women in Business Awards. In December she received an MBE for services to engineering.
A car accident at 17 left Barnsley-born Marie Cooper unable to finish her A levels and aim for a degree in finance. She became a bus driver instead, then went into accounts at Wath motor giant DC Cook. When the company went into liquidation Marie worked alongside the receivers, who set her on the road to accountancy qualifications. She moved into industry and her career soared.
Other keynote speakers at the 2-7pm event include Andrew J Coombe Esq, HM Lord-Lieutenant of South Yorkshire, Sile Moyo, an 18-year-old from Rotherham who has spoken at the House of Lords on education, lead commissioner for Rotherham Sir Derek Myers, Vicky Hilton, the woman tasked with bringing a taste of the Notting Hill Carnival to Rotherham this summer, Sophie Maxwell, creator of The Really NEET College, and Lisa Pogson of Airmaster UK, president elect of Barnsley & Rotherham Chamber of Commerce.
Inspiration is a theme running throughout. All speakers will give a tribute to a woman who has shaped their life.
That includes the Master Cutler Craig McKay. The CEO of Dinnington engineering firm Evenort will take to the stage to talk about changing roles and opportunities for women in manufacturing, but will also be singling out for praise the women who have shaped his own career – his grandmother, his wife and two daughters.
In addition, speakers and guests have been asked to create a “library of inspirational words” by bringing a book that shaped their lives.
Jackie Freeborn added: “We’re expecting books of all genres – from novels to self-help guides – each inscribed with a personal note explaining the book’s influence. They will be taken away by other women who we hope will be inspired to write their own inscriptions and pass them on.”
The day will also give attendees the opportunity to network with some of the region’s leading businesses, and will end with the presentation of the Athena International Award.
Ms Freeborn, a past Athena recipient, said: “Sheffield City Region is the only UK region licensed and affiliated with this prestigious award, which runs in more than 500 communities world-wide.
“We have a shortlist of very high calibre people who have gone that extra mile to help others in business or the community.
“The recipient will join more than 7,000 honourees worldwide.”
For tickets visit www.brchamber.co.uk/events-812