UK Chapter

On 14th March, around 35 women from the CPG & Retail industry in the UK gathered at the Costco offices in Watford for the first LEAD UK Chapter Event of the year. Sue Knowles, Marketing & Admin Director at Costco UK and LEAD UK Chapter Chair, kicked off the meeting by announcing the theme for the 2017 events. In December, members shared that they would be interested in further exploring the topic of unconscious bias, and coming away at the end of every meeting with some key takeaways, and so this topic will be unraveled by different speakers at the various points throughout the year.

Sharon Jeske, Executive Director of LEAD reminded all those present of the LEAD mission, and encouraged those in the room to spread the word about LEAD to grow the membership at a country level. She highlighted the annual LEAD Network Event taking place in Amsterdam on 2nd and 3rd November, under the theme of transformation, which speakers will cover from both the perspective of personal transformation as well as company transformation.

Sue gave those present a sneak peek at her Inspirational Journeys video that will soon be published on the LEAD website, sharing her personal journey to where she is now, how she got there and what she would have changed.

Sue also announced the new LEAD UK Chapter Committee, who will be working together to develop LEAD’s activities and communication among LEAD UK members. She also announced that Janet Lung Standing agreed to become the LEAD UK Chapter Vice-Chair.


  • Sue Knowles, Marketing & Admin Director at Costco UK & Committee Chair
  • Janet Lung Standing, Global Sourcing and Supplier Development Consultant & Committee Vice Chair
  • Sam Simister, Innocent Drinks
  • Elit Rowland, New ERA PR
  • Rachel Riley, WPA
  • Yvonne Breen, Royal Mail

The LEAD Network would like to thank them for all the work that they will be doing on LEAD’s behalf within the UK.

Jane Wharmby from the Cranfield School of Management gave an overview of the work they have done in developing women leaders and in the area of diversity and inclusion. She spoke particularly about two of their well known female academics, Susan Vinnicombe, CBE who is best known for running the Female FTSE Report that shines the light how many female directors FTSE 100 companies have on their Board and Elisabeth Kelan, who focuses on gender and leadership and the role that men in middle management can play in fostering women into leadership. She invited companies who would be interested in taking part in research projects that Cranfield runs, to contact them.

Harriet Minter, journalist, broadcaster and founder of the Women in Leadership section of the Guardian, shared her personal stories of working in male dominated teams and tips from her lived experiences. She started out by saying that sometimes you have to make people walk in your shoes, so that they understand the issues you are facing. She spoke about relying on your skills and what you do best when you are in a rut, no matter how irrelevant they may seem. She encouraged those present to not be afraid to ask for ‘more’ and for things they want in the workplace, just come prepared with supporting arguments. And that maybe it won’t work and maybe the answer will be a ‘no’, but compartmentalise that answer and then move on, as eventually a ‘yes’ will be on its way.

After 2.5 years of running the Women in Leadership section of The Guardian and seeing success after success, Harriet took a step back and began to assess what she wanted to do next. She spent some time with a coach who encouraged her to think about her fears, question how realistic those fears are and then see beyond them to the opportunities. She spent time making a plan for her career as a freelancer and has since become a successful coach and developed a leadership training course aimed at female leaders.

Each LEAD UK Chapter member left with a toolkit that was assembled by Janet, covering an introduction to unconscious bias, a reference guide of tips and practices to be used in the workplace, good practices in involving male champions in the mission and some case studies of real life successes. LEAD would like to extend a big thank you to Sue Knowles and Chloe Johnson of Costco for hosting and organising such a fantastic event.