Happy Easter everyone! I’m Karen Somerville and I am the managing director of Angels’ Share Glass. I wanted to share some news of what I have been up to in my business journey at the start of 2019.
Women's Enterprise Scotland inspire women to start - and then to grow - their own businesses. They provide training to create and activate business ideas, to develop leadership skills and to power business growth. In parliament WES sit alongside businesses for gender specific business support and share findings with government. Women’s Enterprise Scotland is a community interest company which focuses on the contribution women's enterprise makes to the Scottish economy. Their ambassador programme has over 60 members who support, report, mentor and engage with women led or owned businesses.
When I was contacted last year by a fellow business owner, they urged me to apply to become a Women’s Enterprise Scotland Ambassador, I felt a mix of emotions! Mostly am I the sort of ambassador they need? When I was contacted and told I was accepted onto the ambassador programme I was filled with surprise, delight and a little trepidation!
The honour of being asked to join programme was mixed with doubts about whether I had the time to take on another challenge and the necessary expertise to bring to the table.
I’m never one to turn down an opportunity though and feel a real responsibility to do what I can to help women thrive in business.
Ever since starting up Angels Share Glass in 2013, I’ve enjoyed the solidarity and support which comes from working alongside fellow businesswomen in organisations ranging from grassroots groups like Forth Valley Women in Business and national bodies like the Association of Scottish Businesswoman and the British Association of Women Entrepreneurs.
Attending the first meeting of the new WES Ambassadors was a fantastic experience and left me really looking forward to getting involved with the programme.
One of my aims is to take advantage of the opportunity to have a seat at the table in government cross party talks and the chance to influence policy decisions.
It’s so important to ensure there is gender-specific business support for companies run by women and to create an environment where girls and young women are not afraid to start-up their own businesses.
I also think it’s great that WES offers a support network for women in business which isn’t just aimed at start-up level, but which works for women who are in established, successful businesses and at board level too.
It’s important to recognise we all need support whatever stage of our business journey we are on and the need for that doesn’t go away as you rise up the ladder – if anything it becomes more crucial.
Being invited onto the programme made me step back a little and think about what I have done and achieved and look at the difficulties I have had to overcome – for example (like many women) in juggling a family with growing a company, being part of the family business which is now to become a legacy for our own family.
It made me realise how capable and resilient women can be and how much we can offer each other in terms of support. Our team is made up of women all succeeding in their area of expertise whilst assisting the company’s growth and their own personal development.
Having taken a product from creation and development to market both nationally and internationally, I feel I have a lot to share in terms of mentorship and advice to others. Just having jumped the pit falls or even ended up falling into them can only be an inspiration to another facing a similar challenge.
I’m happy to share my journey and hopefully inspire and help other women whether they are just starting out, changing direction in their career or taking on a new challenge or role.
I also feel there are many benefits for me as a WES Ambassador – for example knowing I can access the knowledge and support of like-minded women in business.
At the moment, women-owned businesses are just 20% of the business base in Scotland but I do think we can change that and expand on that figure.
I see my female friends and colleagues who are successfully running their own businesses gaining in confidence and achieving so much and that makes me very positive about the future.
I’m very proud to be named as an Ambassador and determined to fulfil that role to the best of my ability.
Karen Somerville - Angels' Share Glass