I arrived at Accenture’s International Women’s Day in a tide of professionally dressed ladies. Just walking up to the Convention Centre Dublin, I had no doubt of where to go by the sweep of women funneling in from the street. There was a contagious energy to the morning, bringing my attention level to a much higher status than normal for a typical morning at 7:30 AM.
As soon as I entered the Convention Centre (an amazingly designed building may I add), I was greeted by friendly staff directing me up to the third floor. Once again following the sea of people, mostly women, I proceeded to zigzag upwards on several escalators. Reaching the third floor, it was clear where the source of this palpable vivacity was coming from. Hundreds of people were gathered, making for a lovely hum of voices and excited chatter. I managed to make my way through the crowd to the Social Entrepreneurs Ireland (SEI) table, the wonderful organization I have been lucky enough to intern with while studying here in Dublin.
With up to 1000 delegates at the event, this marked the biggest attendance to Accenture’s International Women’s Day since its start 11 years ago. Accenture is a (take one long breath) multinational management consulting, technology services, and outsourcing company (phew!). In other words, they are a huge company headquartered in Dublin with a lot of influence – a great company to back International Women’s Day. Alastair Blair, country managing director for Accenture Ireland, was the first speaker at the event, opening with an explanation that this was a celebration of women’s achievements in Ireland. Mentioning Accenture’s impressive gender balance employment figures, Blair spoke of the significance of sustained female employment. This preceded a group of leading business women in an open panel discussion. The session included Vodafone chief executive Anne O’Leary, Minister for Justice and Equality Frances Fitzgerald and Danielle Ryan, chief executive of the Roads Luxury Group. An impressive mix of women from a varied background of sectors.
The day also highlighted female entrepreneurs, which is where SEI came in. The team had prepared a disruptive launch specifically for International Women’s Day – “Count Me In” – a campaign to connect established business superheroes with social entrepreneurs. Speaking on a panel of entrepreneurial leaders, SEI’s head of development Lucy Masterson made the pitch to an audience of 1000. With Lucy’s charismatic energy, it was a widely received invitation. The premise of the overall campaign was to encourage more corporate leaders to get involved with the entrepreneurial scene, bringing in high level ideas, support and inspiration for start-ups. Worth to mention is that Lucy Masterson also is teaching the Social and Not For Profit Marketing course (MKT 340) at Champlain College’s study abroad program in Dublin.
The morning ended with a wonderful performance by the Accenturephonics – a chorus of Accenture employees. The songs of “Lean on Me” and Pharrell Williams’ “Happy” culminated the event in a spirit of aspiration and renewed purpose. I was feeling quite inspired by the finale, proud to be a female in the field of business. While much of the event focused on the ‘making it to the top’ element of business, I strongly took away the idea that it is perseverance more than anything that will carry you through. We all need some element of spunk in us to get along in our daily lives, and both men and women face adversary in all various degrees, there is no doubt about that. But it takes a particularly determined female to get involved in an industry society tells her is rightly dominated by men, such as with politics or technology. I left International Women’s Day not feeling accusatory of men (which may be the feared result of a day like this by some), but rather steadfast to continue on in a journey of persistency like so many other women before me.
Champlain Abroad Dublin, Spring 2015
Champlain College Business Administration Major
Class of 2016
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