Monday Motivation is back and it now features Woman Who Achieves Academy members, just one of the many perks of being in the Academy and the opportunities it provides.

Getting to know you… our Monday Motivation Feature


Name: Mel Stanley


Business Name: FirstWoman


Who inspires you and why?

I have quite a few inspiration icons and they are all themed around overcoming adversity

Michelle Obama and Kamala Harris – I coached a young black woman who described being of colour and female a double whammy of brick ceiling. The US is less liberal and suffers more cultural and institutional racism than the UK so for these 2 women to have achieved what they have is even more motivating and shows what determination and the refusal to give in and accept their lot can do.

What’s your biggest achievement?

In a professional sense, starting FirstWoman. It’s been such an insightful learning experience, securing my own clients through my own work and endeavour, and seeing my clients thrive is so satisfying.

In terms of my personal life, there have been many, but when Jojo and I won a dressage competition ahead of Kristina Gifford, which was subsequently covered by Horse & Hound, that was a high.

Not forgetting taking on Jeremy Hunt and the establishment over the local flood relief scheme. Winning that funding helped me and all my neighbours in securing a flood-free future for our community

What’s your top business tip?

Never give up – because I have, 3 times before and I so wish I hadn’t.

What’s your favourite quote?

“The world accommodates those who fit in but rewards those who stand out”


and just for fun…


What did you want to be when you grew up?

An Event rider. Well, Princess Anne actually but not the Princess part.

Who would you love to be stuck in a lift with and why?
Ricky Gervais. I love his humour, and the fact he doesn’t give a damn what people think about him he tells it like it is. He doesn’t take himself too seriously BUT when it comes to animals he is a huge animal welfare advocate. I hate celebs and celebrity culture but I find Ricky to be very authentic.


Tell us about an embarrassing moment (one you can laugh about now).

There have been too many!

I was not the first, nor the last, but I remember doing a classic Xmas party, cornering the Agency Chairman and read him the riot act. I had moved to Leeds having worked in London and this was my second Agency job. I found it very difficult to adjust to the pace and 2 years later I was still an Account Manager whilst other peers had been promoted. Looking back, I was probably a bit of a nightmare to manage, it wasn’t a competency issue it was about ‘fit’. So I had a very public champagne-fuelled showdown with the Chairman at the Xmas do. It was Friday night and I woke up Saturday with that sinking feeling (and a mega hangover), not least because, I couldn’t remember exactly what I’d said. I was mortified and spent all weekend worrying about showing my face Monday morning and subsequently being fired.

I wasn’t. I was immediately promoted.

Gordon Brown the Chairman of WWAV and recipient of my rant, was impressed with my audacity. It didn’t stop all my colleagues reminding me with great hilarity exactly what I had said, apparently I was jabbing a finger at him and all sorts. Anyway, it was a turning point. I stayed at WWAV  for another 4 years and went from strength to strength but in later life when I was a Board Director I only ever went to a Xmas party for an hour and left before it got messy, as I didn’t want to be the one being cornered by a younger version of me!


Find out more about the Woman Who Achieves Academy and feature in a future Monday Motivation feature.