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8th March 2018

Total Guide interview Thrings for International Women’s Day

To mark International Women’s Day 2018, Total Guide set out to interview inspirational women in Bath and Swindon. Thrings’ Gemma Featonby is a partner and practice area leader and Ros Trotman an associate solicitor and recently appointed vice chair of Women in Property South West. Here’s what they had to say about the women that inspire them and gender equality in the world of business.

Two women smiling

Name, occupation and positions

Rosalyn Trotman, associate solicitor in Planning at Thrings’ Bristol and Bath offices and vice chair of Women in Property, South West.

Describe a woman that inspires you and why?

Emma Watson is incredibly inspiring – using her fame to drive forward change for women worldwide. In her role as UN Women Goodwill Ambassador she is leading the way on gender issues, fronting the HeForShe campaign which calls on men to advocate for gender equality (and doing a bit of acting on the side too)!

What would you say is your most valuable skill and why?

I would say I am a good communicator – in that I am not shy about sharing my opinion, but I listen too. Sounds simple I know, but it’s an important part of being a successful lawyer and team player.

Why do you think it’s important to have an International Women’s Day?

Once a year, this day prompts us to take a moment to reflect on how far society has come on its journey to gender equality and to appreciate some of the most inspiring women in the world.

Women first won the right to vote one hundred years ago thanks to the efforts of brave and forward thinking women and men. This year, we can celebrate some important ‘firsts’ too, among them: the first female president of the UK Supreme Court, the first female NFU (National Farmers Union) president and the first gender-neutral acting award (Emma Watson again)!

How do you maintain a work/life balance?

By being disciplined and working collaboratively with my colleagues so that we get things done efficiently and deliver the best service to our clients – while not making late desk nights the norm.

Have you ever had to give up or miss out on anything in order to pursue your career?

I am pleased to say that, to date, I have managed to pursue my personal hobbies, social engagements and non-work ambitions while progressing my legal career, albeit with a few compromises from time to time.

Based on your own experiences, what advice would you give to fellow females looking to get into your profession?

Get yourself a mentor! They can be an incredibly useful tool to help you realise your potential. It’s worth checking if your employer or university run a mentoring scheme. If not, there may be organisations relevant to your profession that offer some options. Women in Property, for example, which has branches across the country, offers a mentoring scheme for its members. It even includes training for mentees and mentors alike, meaning everyone gets the most out of it.

If you could have dinner with five inspirational women dead or alive, who would they be?

  1. Well of course my favourite lady, Emma Watson, would have to be there!
  2. Emmeline Pankhurst, the British political activist and leader of the British suffragette movement who helped women win the right to vote.
  3. Michele Obama, former First Lady, who created her own legacy including the Let Girls Learn initiative which aims to help the 62 million girls around the world who aren’t in school access an education.
  4. Amal Clooney, the ultimate lawyer idol and mother of twins! Last but not least:
  5. Venus Williams, one of the top athletes of our time and a crucial person in the success of the equal prize money campaign at Wimbledon, paving the way for other sports.

As a successful female, where do you see yourself in 10 years’ time?

I see myself as a Planning partner in a law firm, attending an International Women’s Day event and surrounded by likeminded men and women. We are talking about how far gender equality has come in the last ten years. More ‘firsts’, ‘seconds’ and ‘thirds’ are being celebrated in a society where the gender pay gap and glass ceiling are things of the past and where more women are CEOs or in senior management positions – across all sectors.

Follow the link to read the interview in Total Guide to Bath.

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Name, occupation and positions

Gemma FeatonbyGemma Featonby, partner and practice area leader for Property Litigation in Swindon (and the South West).

Which woman would you compare yourself to?

I try not to compare myself to anyone. There are people that I look up to and take inspiration from, but I mostly focus on trying to be the best version of myself – as a person, a lawyer and a leader.

What would you say is your most valuable skill and why?

My determination. I believe with it you can achieve whatever you want to achieve, no matter how impossible it might initially seem. It is also important to support and encourage others, even in simple ways like giving compliments and praise without hesitation or agenda.

Why do you think it’s important to have an International Women’s Day?

I must admit, I have previously questioned the importance of International Women’s Day, being of the opinion that in order to ensure we are equal, we should not draw attention to our differences. Wary of board quotas, I instead prefer to see the best person for the job get the job regardless of sex, age, race or other. Having said that, an article recently turned my views on this around. It pointed to the fact that, hopefully, one day, we will not need IWD – but for now – it is important for those women worldwide that are still suffering injustice and prejudice and need IWD as a beacon of hope. That one day we won’t need to highlight our differences because equality will be a given.

How do you maintain a work/life balance?

Discipline. I try to ensure I put aside time during the week for exercise and I make sure that I compartmentalise the different aspects of my life. When I am at home I am focused on my kids and family and when I am at work I am focused on my clients, team and career.

Have you ever had to give up or miss out on anything in order to pursue your career?

I might have had to change plans or miss netball every now and again, for example, if I have a demanding case or deadline – but nothing significant. If anything, I feel like I have had more opportunities because of my career.

Based on your own experiences, what advice would you give to fellow females looking to get into your profession?

Go for it. There is nothing that you cannot achieve if you put your mind to it and work hard.

If you could have dinner with 5 inspirational women dead or alive, who would they be?

Amelia Earhart, Michelle Obama, Oprah Winfrey, Coco Chanel, Marie Curie.

As a successful female, where do you see yourself in 10 years’ time?

Leading a successful and motivated team and helping to develop junior lawyers into the leaders of our future.

Follow the link to read the interview in Total Guide to Swindon.

 

 

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