We are delighted to feature our Woman Who…Business Network Finalists today.  Julie Richardson and Lisa Kennedy are the founders of Ladies First Professional Development.

Kennedy-Richardson-22-LR“We founded the network in January 2014 to provide an environment in which businesswomen from across Coventry and Warwickshire could flourish. Our aim was always to provide more than just networking. We worked on our three ‘I’ principle which is to Inspire, Inform and Introduce. We were very clear from the start that the group would be inclusive and we would not set out an entry criteria looking at turnover of the business or salary earned as we recognised that women from all backgrounds, at all levels have something to offer. Our only criteria was that every business women who came along had the desire to help others in the group.

As well as offering networking and commercial business opportunities, we wanted to give more and therefore developed our series of workshops that enable our members to continue their self-development – something that can be quite difficult for sole trader businesses who are often caught up in the day to day running of their business and can forget about continuing to develop themselves on a personal or professional level. We also developed a speaker series where businesswomen would come and share their journeys (both the high and the lows) and these have proven to be very successful.

The network has grown since inception and continues to attract new business owners to each event. We have moved venues around Coventry and Warwickshire to ensure we are an accessible group for local businesswomen. We have organized over 30 events since we started and engaged with over 1300 women. We have developed our database to nearly 1,000 female businesswomen all of whom we communicate with on a monthly basis and who have opted to be on our mailing list.

Our aspirations over the next twelve months are to reach out to even more women across the County and develop our group further. We have longer term aspirations to franchise the group having developed what we believe is a winning formula.

Ladies First Professional Development is about our members. It’s about encouraging women to be the best they can and to celebrate those successes. Our role is to provide an environment in which this can be achieved and to showcase the important contribution our members make to the Coventry & Warwickshire economy. We haven’t forgotten our charitable obligations. In 2014 and 2015 we organized a charity fashion show to provide a social event for our members as well as raising £5,500 in much needed funds for two local charities; Grapevine and Ladies Fighting Breast Cancer, with the latter an obvious choice being an all-female group.”

Congratulations Julie & Lisa on being a Woman Who…Business Network Finalist.

You can come along and support Julie & Lisa and Ladies First Professional Development at our Awards Lunch on Friday 15th April at Coombe Abbey Hotel.