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Celebrating Female Leaders

Leadership & Culture

Celebrating Female Leaders | Executive Search Event 

by Anne-Marie Walsh

The dictionary company Merriam-Webster chose “authentic” as its word of the year for 2023. Something that is authentic is real or true. 

For some time, we had intended to host our first Fortis Executive event, specifically aimed at expressing gratitude to the female leaders we collaborated with in 2023. There are many routes we could have taken, such as an informative webinar or a lively panel discussion, however,  we wanted the event to be a genuine treat, a thank you to our female clients and candidates who we have loved working with over the last few years in our new business.  Bearing this in mind we booked the beautiful location of The Apartment in Brown Thomas Dundrum and were delighted to welcome The Style Bob Aka Aoife Dunican as our expert speaker on dressing for success in a post-covid work world. 

A younger version of myself might have presented only the positive spin of the event to this online community.  To be sure there were lots of positives; the clients that were able to make it and the Fortis team had a lovely afternoon. Aoife’s presentation was excellent, thought-provoking and engaging and a smaller audience meant that discussions were intimate and lively.  The Apartment in Brown Thomas provided delicious charcuterie boards, refreshing drinks and goodie bags for our attendees, we couldn’t have been happier with the service. The downside was that we had put a lot of work into our attendee list and on the day were disappointed that numbers had dropped nearly overnight from 40 guests to 10-15 ish! Each guest who could not attend had genuine reasons, some were caught up in work, others had a cold/ flu that had been going around, and sometimes life just gets in the way. 

I think in the post-COVID world that we find ourselves in, people are a little more hesitant to attend real-life events and this is something I certainly was a bit fearful of going into our event. It was stressful in the run-up to the event when numbers started to dwindle.  We hear a lot now about Instagram versus reality and I think the onus is on all of us to be honest about our realities. This is my honest account, hosting our event was challenging even with the full support of the Fortis team. Before the event kicked off there was some disappointment with the turnout, but in a way that made us more grateful to the people who were able to make it and thankful that our albeit smaller and more intimate event went well. 

So why are we sharing this?  Given that a lot of what the Style Bob discussed focused on how we use fashion to embody our authentic selves in the world it felt fairly inauthentic of me to come on and only talk about the positive aspects of the day.   I think if we are to talk about female leadership in 2024 being really honest with the challenges we are facing is refreshing and much needed in a world which can often trade in illusions and smoke and mirrors.  I think 2023 was quite a challenging year for lots of people.  When things are challenging sometimes you need to go back to basics and keep having honest conversations.  I would love for this to continue as a key trend into 2024. 

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