Disruption: do women do it differently? We assembled a panel at a gathering of MT’s 35 Women Under 35 network last night to address that very question. The lineup included Cilla Snowball, boss of leading ad agency AMV BBDO and Smruti Sriram the CEO of fabric bag manufacturer Supreme Creations. They were joined by John Vincent, who co-founded the healthy fast food chain Leon, and Isla Kennedy, a digital consultant at Accenture, which sponsored the event. Over the course of the lively debate, our panel came up with a few handy pieces of insight for women looking to disrupt the world of business.
1. You don’t have to be an ‘entrepreneur’ to be an innovator
The data shows that men are more likely to start their own business, says Cilla Snowball, but you don’t have to be an entrepreneur like Martha Lane Fox or Anita Roddick to be a disruptive woman. ‘For me, innovation is a very quiet innovation by stealth,’ she says. ‘It’s not necessarily an inventor, but it’s someone who is making huge strides in an organisation as the company grows.’
Cilla Snowball is the group chairman and group CEO of AMV BBDO
Business leaders like EasyJet’s Caroline McCall and Camelot’s Dianne Thompson have shown you can make a big difference to a company that already exists, she said. ‘[Dianne Thompson] didn’t invent the national lottery, but she invented an innovative way to make it grow and become a world class lottery.’
Don’t let setbacks knock your confidence. ‘You have to be optimistic,’ said Kennedy. ‘I’m an optimistic person – I had a skiing accident when I was at university, and had to spend seven months in rehab before I went back to university. It was about having that structure around you, but also about having that determination. ‘