Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Meet Our New Team Member – Sue Phillips!

We’ve had an exciting few months here at The Women’s Organisation, and have taken on 2 new team members in our Administration staff! We’d like you to get to know them, so we’ve sat them down and had a chat to find out all about them. First, of all meet Sue Phillips – our new Administrator!

What’s your full name and where are you from?

Sue Phillips from Liverpool

Tell us how your first found out about The Women’s Organisation and became part of our team?

I first found out about The Women’s Organisation when I was applying for the job although I had known about Train 2000 many years ago when I was working at CDS Training for Enterprise Ltd. When reading the job advert I felt that this organisation was very similar to other organisation I have previously worked for and I felt that I would really like to work for the organisation. So I applied and became part of the team!

What kinds of things have you done prior to coming to The Women’s Organisation?
I have worked for 2 other organisations similar to The Women’s Organisation as mentioned; CDS Training for Enterprise Ltd. Which was an Enterprise Agency, training long term unemployed people to get back into employment. We were the first training organisation to teach people working in the print industry on Apple Mac computers back in the 80’s when this was new to the industry. We also helped people starting up their own businesses, accessing grants and training courses.

The other organisation was Positive Impact, this was an all-female business set up by myself and 3 other women. This was a Performing Arts training agency set up for young people from disadvantaged groups, it was very successful helping many young people from Liverpool fulfil their dreams of performing, whether it be singing, dancing, acting or scriptwriting.

Both these organisation were very similar to The Women’s Organisation in the way we worked towards helping people achieve their goals.

What has surprised you about working at The Women’s Organisation?

The thing that has surprised me most about The Women’s Organisation is how much I have learnt in the short time I have been here.

What’s the best thing about working at The Women’s Organisation?

The best thing about working here is working with people who genuinely enjoy being here, which makes my time here very enjoyable!

Could you describe one of your typical workdays?

A typical workday would be opening up the building, dealing with our clients who have booked rooms, arranging refreshments for our courses, checking that rooms are tidy and any unused rooms are locked. We also email or text people reminders who are on our courses or for one to one meetings, and sorting out our post for the tenants,, we deal with tenant’s visitors when they arrive, book rooms for internal and external visitors and set up rooms for the following day! So lots of different things to do!

What might someone be surprised to know about you?

That I was in a 4 piece girl band called Distinction when I was younger! We got back together during my time at Positive Impact and did all the backing singing in our productions, so I was doing finance during the day and on stage during the night!

What do you like to do when you aren’t working?

When I’m not working I still do some finance work for Positive Impact as the company is still going but much smaller due to lack of funding. I also spend time with my daughter and son when I can; we enjoy the same things like the theatre and music concerts. I also visit and spend time with my friends and family when I can.

We're delighted to welcome Sue to our 54 and WO family, and know she's going to fit right in!

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Erasmus+ ACE Partners Meet in Bulgaria

Last week project partners for the 'ACE' project met in Sofia, Bulgaria hosted by 'Know and Can Association'.  Enteprise Director Jackie Williams and Training Coordinator Bernie Cox from The Women's Organisation joined the transnational meeting to represent the UK.  

The purpose of the visit was to review progress to date on the creation of the 5 training modules which are being developed to support adult educators and enterprise advisers in working with lifestyle entrepreneurs. The modules will cover:
  • The Basics of Lifestyle Entrepreneurship
  • The Use of ICT and Open Educational Resources in Lifestyle Entrepreneurship
  • Marketing of Adult Education on Lifestyle Entrepreneurship for Disadvantaged Learners
  • Assessment Tools of Learners' Skills and Competancies in Lifestyle Entrepreneurship
  • Creating Awareness on Validation of the Acquired Competences 

During the meeting the group also reviewed the template for video and written case studies around lifestyle entrepreneurship that will be used to gain better understanding of the practical experiences of lifestyle entrepreneurs. 

Bernie Cox reflecting on the meeting saying:
"Transnational partnership meetings are a great opportunity to build closer bonds with the team you are working collaboratively with.  It is great that we have skype and other online tools to allow us to work together even at a distance, but meeting in person solidifies that working relationship and allows us to workshop ideas as a group.
It was interesting this time to meet in Sofia as it is somewhere I've not visited before, so it was good to have a chance to soak in some of the local culture and to find out more about our host organisation. 
I've come away from the meeting in Bulgaria with renewed understanding of what we are hoping to achieve through the ACE project, and I look forward to seeing how the training modules continue to develop."

The next transnational meeting will take place later this year in Cyprus where a pilot of the training modules will be carried out. 

The ACE Project brings together a dynamic European Partnership of Key Practitioners within the fields of ICT, Education and Entrepreneurship to research and develop a programme that will focus on developing adult educators' competences to promote learners' lifestyle entrepreneurship.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Ruth Smart Establishes a Family Council To Continue Her Legacy of Tranect Ltd.

We’ve heard many different business stories here at The Women’s Organisation, but never have we heard one quite like Ruth Smart’s and the business which she is the Executive Director of, Tranect Ltd. Tranect is a design and manufacturing company for electrical components used for power generation and transmission. Ruth is currently in the process of something rarely seen in the UK, establishing a Family Council so that her business can be taken over by her children when she retires. We spoke to Ruth to find out more about her background, her business and how she is implementing this interesting business model.

Prior to founding Tranect Ltd, Ruth worked for different multinational companies designing and manufacturing this type of product, after studying at Brunel University and becoming a Chartered Engineer. Ruth told us; ‘I wanted to start up my own business because I kept on being made redundant as manufacturing plants moved overseas. When I had the opportunity to buy an obsolete product range and redevelop it. I took out a bank loan, secured on our family home and invested all of our savings and my redundancy money into the business.’

During the initial years, like many business owners starting own, Ruth faced some challenges such as cash flow and other issues which she faced head on. She told us that she has a supportive partner, and although she worked for longer hours, she enjoyed the benefits that come with being your own boss such as deciding when she needed to be in the factory and when she could be at home. Tranect Ltd. has been running for 15 years now, and it’s really starting to get interesting at this point a Ruth begins to think about what will become of her legacy after she retires.

She told us; ‘Originally the business was to provide a secure source of income for my family, but now that they are grown up and working, I can see how the business can continue to provide security for all the members of the family, and potentially my grandchildren. It can be a legacy that I pass on.’

And the way that Ruth will pass on her legacy is through the formation of a Family Council who will take control of the business, so when Ruth steps down as the Executive Director, her children will be able to take over the running of the business through the Family Council. Ruth says; ‘When my children were growing up, they didn’t want anything to do with the business, they wanted to go off and do their own things. But now that they’ve graduated, had some time out in the big wide world and have their own families and children, they are starting to appreciate the benefits of a family owned business. Where we have far more control over the hours that we have to work, and we’re better able to get our work/life balance right. So, now my son and son-in-law work in the business, and we are having discussions about how to hand over the business when I retire.’

This was the conversation that led Ruth to seek help through her local growth hub where she came across The Women’s Organisation. Ruth has been working with our Senior Business Adviser, John Jones, on an ERDF (European Regional Development Fund) funded business growth programme; New Markets 2, and has found specific support from John in transferring the business from one generation to the next; ‘I’ve been working with John, which has been really helpful. We’ve ensured that the women within the family are all equally represented within the Family Council going forward and are provided with the training and support that they need to be able to fulfill their role.’

So what has Ruth found challenging throughout this journey? Namely, explaining this interesting business model to the rest of her family; ‘The strangest explanation was to my youngest daughter who lives in London and has nothing to do with the business whatsoever, but will inherit a third of the business in time. I had to explain that as the non-executive shareholder, she would have to take over chairing the Family Council including the role of having to sort out any disputes in the business going forward. She responded saying that she doesn’t know anything about that sort of thing, but The Women’s Organisation and their recommended consultants can provide the training and support she needs to fulfil that role.’

What we found most interesting about this business model of the Family Council was that they are relatively unknown in the United Kingdom. The Institute for Family Businesses has general guidance for succession planning, but Ruth said; ‘We are using a model that has been adopted by family businesses from around the world, and it’s quite a typical way for German family-run businesses to operate. It’s one of the greatest successes of German businesses that they are able to have the second, third and fourth generations come into the business, learn about it and provide the business with continuity and continued investment. I think there is something in this that we could all learn from.’

So, now Ruth has her family on board and the Family Council is established, she is safe in the knowledge that the business she has worked for half her life to establish and grow, will continue after she retires, in the hands of her children and grandchildren.

If like Ruth you are looking to make changes and grow your already existing business, please get in touch with us to see how we can help you grow. As a local growth hub broker we are here to offer you advice and guidance whatever stage your business and help you to connect to relevant support. Email us on or ring us on 0151 706 8111

Contact Details for Tranect Ltd

Tel: 0151 548 7040