Geldards are proud of our strong female leaders. To celebrate International Women’s Day and our amazing women and colleagues at Geldards, we asked our female Partners who has been the biggest inspiration throughout their life and career.

Michelle Craven-Faulkner, Head of Commercial, Derby –

One of my biggest inspirations is my Nanna. I know I should say someone iconic like Boudica (top wild woman though), Elizabeth I (or II come to think of it), Emmeline Pankhurst (for obvious reasons), Ada Lovelace, the list goes on and each of those women and many more have and continue to influence my life. But my Nanna ran a clothes shop in Kenya, was in the women’s land army, ran a nursery school in Germany, is an artist, sculptress and published author, something which at the age of 90 she still works at with relish. What more can I say other than the fact that she is and continues to be awesome and has always shown me that I can do anything I put my mind to.. apart from art as I’m just terrible!

Lowri Phillips, Employment Partner, Cardiff –

Lady Justice Hale, for smashing the glass ceiling in the British legal system and becoming Britain’s first female Law Lord in 2004 and in 2017 becoming the first woman President of the Supreme Court. She has been a long-standing champion for diversity in the Judiciary and is an inspiration to us all. She couples this with what appears to be a quirky sense of humour which we get a glimpse of through her selection of eccentric brooches. Her choice of a spider brooch when delivering the Supreme Court ruling on the illegality of the Prime Minister’s decision to suspend Parliament was certainly interesting.

Susanne Bradley, Head of Commercial Property, Cardiff–

My late and beloved Grandmother, née Violet Allen: – her first husband died aged 29, leaving my Grandmother a widow with a 3 year old daughter and no money in an era when there was a stigma on being a poor, young widow. Despite this, she worked full time and more, at a variety of jobs; brought up my Mother beautifully as a lone parent and also looked after her bed-ridden mother and younger brother, who suffered long bouts of ill health. She married a second time 16 years after her first husband’s death, but lost her second husband to cancer 10 years later. She was a stylish woman, with a strong sense of duty and family loyalty, loved fashion and dancing, and in her older years was a pillar of the Mother’s Union in her community. I deeply admire and aspire to her strength, determination and work ethic and the positive, philosophical way she had of getting on with things, without anger or bitterness, whatever life threw at her.

Helene Maillet-Vioud, Commercial Property Partner, Nottingham –

It might sound a bit cliché but my mum is my biggest inspiration. She is amazing and has helped steer me through the challenges of life. She’s tough and doesn’t pull any punches or take any nonsense but she also knows when and how to support me even if she doesn’t completely agree with my decisions. She is not business minded but she has taught me a lot about reading and understanding people – all skills which have served me well when working in a team and then when I had to manage one. She also gave me a strong work ethic and helped me keep my feet on the ground, without her I don’t think I would have got as far in my career as I have.

Claire Johnson, Private Client Partner, Cardiff –

I seem to have spent a large part of my career working in teams which happen either to have had a female lead or be made up entirely of women. Early on in my career two female Tax Partners who led the team I worked for at KPMG were definitely inspirational and an indication to me that there should be no ceiling glass or otherwise. I continue to be inspired and motivated by the intellect, warmth, humour and determination of the women I work with in my team.

Fiona Apthorpe, Head of Family, Derby –

Katherine Hepburn. She was a woman in a man’s world who was true to herself. She wore trousers when women didn’t. She earned her own money and wasn’t afraid to say what she thought. She refused to marry one of the richest men in America and followed her heart. She was beautiful, funny, smart and didn’t give a damn! Love her!

Emma Tice, Employment Partner, Derby –

Having worked in a more male dominated work environment, having a professional female role model was difficult to achieve until I moved to Geldards where I have found a truly inspiring female role model in Debra – she is a highly competent female lawyer who is a specialist in her field, and despite being so driven professionally she has maintained her own unique personality and values and will stick by these no matter what. The way she manages her teams is business like and efficient and yet with real feeling and human centred vision. She truly wants her whole team to achieve, whatever their gender, shape or size and she believes in every single one of us. She will challenge us to become better versions of ourselves and is not afraid of difficult conversations, but this is all underpinned by us all having a real belief that she genuinely wants us all (as individuals) to achieve our full potential. It is this type of leadership that I have believed in for a very long time and seeing in Debra that it is achievable and what is more, it creates a successful environment for all to thrive and succeed in. This has been a real inspiration for me and I cannot tell you the change it has had on me, to realise that as women in business we do operate differently to men, no better, no worse, but differently. One thing is for sure she has shown me the strength of a driven woman and made me fell that I am not alone in the way I see life and business.

Melissa Moran, HR Director, Cardiff –

Being a keen athlete throughout, I am totally in awe of Jessica Ennis Hill who has achieved such success in the Heptathlon what has to be the most diverse and challenging athletics event. Having been crowned Olympic Champion and three times a World Champion in such a demanding discipline, even retaining her world title only 15 months after having her first child, Jessica’s determination and hard work are to be applauded and are thoroughly inspiring.