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Women in Spotlight

New Circles in Spotlight

Future Female Leaders NI is an inclusive circle for young women (18 -25) who are studying or at beginning their career path.

Our goals are...
1. To encourage a culture of sharing knowledge and overcoming challenges.
2. To provide a supportive network.
3. To nurture, empower and build confidence. 

For people with 15+ years in their chosen profession and who are now in senior executive or ownership positions. This circle aims to provide peer support to help navigate personal and professional challenges that face us every day; a fun place to brainstorm, make connections, support projects and grow our power.

A group for women in science (academic and non-academic) in NI, to talk, provide support and be the best we can be.

Baker McKenzie GSB

Baker McKenzie Global Services Belfast started in August 2017 with 5 members and currently has 35 members. Meetings are once a month at lunch time to discuss a different topics.  Below is brief summary of our 2017 meetings:

·        Information Session - to talk a little more about what Lean In is and what we were hoping to achieve by starting a GSB circle.

·        At our Kick off event- discussed topics and set monthly agenda.

·        1st circle: Perception vs Reality - how we view ourselves compared to how we think others perceive us.

·        2nd circle: Paralysis of Perfection -  get it right all of the time and fail but what we need to do is let go of what we think we should be and accept that who we are right now is enough.

·        3rd circle was Imposter Syndrome - about people being unable to internalise their accomplishments and what we can practically do to manage these Imposter feelings.

·        4th circle was Networking - All about understanding the different types of networks we have in our lives and how we can use them more effectively and how gender impacts the types of networks women have.

The topics that came out of kick-off session that we are still going to cover in 2018 are:

Ø  Work Life Balance

Ø  Resilience

Ø  Negotiation

Ø  Leadership Skills

Ø  Public Speaking

NI Entrepreneurs

Established to help female entrepreneurs develop personally and professionally to enable us to drive our businesses and to achieve full potential.

We do this by mutually supporting one another.  We work together to help each other grow, approach issues and problems from new and different angles.  


We are be open, honest and engage with integrity.  By working together in a framework of support and collaboration we will establish a culture of trust, co-operation, giving and growth – both personal and business development.

This group is not about each of us selling our business, but a by-product of our interactions may be a natural referral system.

It is hoped that all members will contribute and value the contribution of others.


We have approx 100 members. We meet monthly (calendar for year to be agreed) to talk about business challenges and successes and get support. We’re also looking at doing more structured learning sessions on a quarterly basis.  We have just set up a committee so that we can provide greater support and structure. 

Allstate Belfast

The Allstate Lean In circles have 27 members within our Belfast location, although we’re hoping to build on that this year and expand to our Derry offices in the coming year. Membership is restricted to Allstate employees only.


We have 3 groups which meet regularly every 3 or 4 weeks over lunchtime, with the aim of providing peer-support, promote self-development and provide the chance to learn from each other.


Membership of these groups range from entry level graduates to senior leadership, and this provides a great opportunity to benefit from the insight and experience of more senior members, but also provides a forum for less experienced members to discuss and publicize issues they’re seeing within the workplace.


The groups use a variety of content to stimulate conversation, such as reading books and watching Ted talks, with the emphasis on educational and development topics such as Amy Cuddy’s Ted Talk on Presence, or Susan Cain’s Quiet talk.  

Now that the Allstate circles have been established successfully, in 2018 we plan to expand the role of Allstate Lean In circles by promoting them further within Northern Ireland offices, and to especially focus on new employees.

In our recent survey some key points so far:

  • 50% attended regularly, and most would recommend it to others

  • People loved small informal groups where members could discuss anything

  • They loved the peer support, especially for particular issues.

  • Gained a network of allies/friends

  • Gained interview skills and support

Julie Irwin

Julie Irwin Resource Management spanning 25 years.  Running a successful HR consultancy for the last 7 years, Julie expanded her business in 2013 setting up Purple Patch Interview Skills Coaching.  

She has a proven track record of success in preparing a wide range of individuals for interview from  graduates to senior Civil Servants, school principals to healthcare professionals and engineers to accountants in the private sector.

Julie also runs workshops in schools for Year 13 and 14 pupils applying to universities workshops giving students the tools to write effective Personal Statements and provide interview preparation and techniques to sell themselves in the highly competitive UCAS process.

Years of interview panel experience have given Julie a practical insight into what preparation needs to be done by candidates to enable them to sell themselves and their relevant skills in their application form and on the day at the interview.


Julie believes the key to a great interview is preparation based on a thorough understanding of the job and personnel requirements.  “All too often applicants have not fully considered the requirements of the role they are applying for,  they rush straight into talking about their existing role rather than reflecting on how the specific skills and experiences they have gained are matched with what the new role and Company require.”

“I regularly have clients who arrive to our first 1-2-1 session with files and files of answers they have prepared to probable interview questions.  No-one can hope to remember that amount of pre-prepared answers in the heat of an interview,  so I start with a clean sheet assisting them in preparing stories in a systematic way based on up to 8 of the most relevant experiences they can easily adapt in an interview situation to answer the majority of questions on the day.”

Clare Templeton

My name is Clare Templeton and I am a lawyer, specialising in Commercial Dispute Resolution.  My workload is varied – no two days are the same – and involves dealing with contractual disputes, landlord and tenant issues, insolvency matters and shareholder disputes, to name but a few.  I do love my job, I pride myself on the level of service I give my clients, and very little beats the high of a good win!


I also have two children, 16 and 7, and like most working mums (and some dads!) spend most of the time walking the tightrope of balancing work and family life.  I’m very fortunate now to work with great people who understand that challenge and have moved with the times to support and encourage a more flexible work environment, to include working from home.  My clients expect me to be available outside of normal office hours, so this flexibility is massively important.


A couple of years ago I had gone through a difficult time in my professional career and my confidence had been significantly knocked.  That’s what prompted me to read Lean In and one of the pieces that stuck with me and still does, is the concept of bringing your whole self to work.  We don’t live in a vacuum and any employer who expects a member of staff, male or female, to simply leave that massive part of themselves at the door of the office potentially misses out on that person utilising valuable transferable skills that come from being a parent, such as compassion, patience, and sensitivity – all vital components in my job.


After reading the book (and making my husband read it too!) I was intrigued by the concept of the Lean In circles and have been a member from the early days.  Nuala was doing a terrific job of managing everything on her own, but after a while, I suggested that a leadership team might be able to provide assistance and support in key areas, and offered my help on the legal and governance side.  Nuala was able to put a super team of volunteers together to assist with marketing, PR, social media, event management etc, which is a great example of what Lean In is all about – supporting each other to make our lives easier and more productive.


From a less altruistic standpoint, Lean In for me is also about the networking opportunities it provides and the contacts I can make with entrepreneurs and decision makers.  In my profession, networking is still largely based around male dominated sporting events so our Lean In events are a refreshing change! 

Sinead Steenson

Things are moving fast with Generation Women.  My fabulous Facebook Group – GenWomen’s Career Winners is going strong.  It’s a FREE resource for any woman looking to make the most of her career.  There are daily habits, tips and training, to help you with everything from your personal brand to building your resilience.  It’s a great community of support, where like-minded, unapologetically ambitious women can come together and raise each other up!  Join here I have just launched my signature programme – Rise and Shine Career Design.  It’s an intensive online group coaching programme, run over 3 months.  It’s designed to help you confidently design your dream career, so you can glide up the corporate ladder in a career you love!  So if you’re struggling to stand out at work, holding back from applying for the roles you’d really love, or wanting career clarity, then this is the programme for you.  The first one is almost booked up, but if you’re interested, I will be setting up a waiting list for the next run.  Email me at for more information. Finally, I’m also launching a luxurious retreat in September.  It will be a 3 day get-away in a fabulous mansion in Fermanagh.  It will be all about escaping from the day-to-day to devote some time to thinking about yourself and sharpening your vision for the impact you want to make.  A blend of career and soul, it will be your opportunity to switch off from the madness, and tune into you and your inner-strength.  Connect with other like-minded ambitious women to learn, grow, and relax in a truly unique experience.  An exciting event where you will walk away rejuvenated, inspired, and empowered with all the confidence you need to achieve your greatest ambitions!  You can register interest with me at and I’ll make sure to keep you in the loop.

Victoria McCallum

Victoria is Project Coordinator within the Cloud Infrastructure, Architecture and Engineering department at SAP in Belfast.  She’s also a STEM ambassador for W5, is organising a STEM careers day aimed at girls as part of NI Science Festival 2018, and is a Lean In Regional Leader leading the Women in Tech Belfast circle.  She likes to laugh and not take life too seriously.


At school, Victoria played defence in the girl’s hockey team that won the West Oxfordshire U16’s Championship.  They were notoriously the worst team in the district and only scored one goal all season - it just happened to be the only goal scored on the day of the championship at the end of the season!  So even after “knowing” that the team was a failure whom didn’t stand a chance of amounting to anything, Victoria became a champion.  “Even when you fail, you win” was to become her mantra.


Victoria failed her A levels and didn’t go to uni as a teenager.  She has lived and worked in six countries, in seven different industries, over the past 15 years.  She’s been on benefits three times.  She’s quit “good, permanent” jobs to go backpacking, or move somewhere new, or try a new job simply because she didn’t like the last one.  It’s not been much of a linear, planned, or inspirational career. 


At the age of 30 she bought her first ever personal laptop.  Having looked around for a course in Belfast to learn to code and not being able to find one, she brought Code First: Girls to Queen’s (a non-profit HQ in London that teaches women students to code).  After doing the introductory web development course, at 32, she decided to turn down a promotion in Dublin, and leave her job in Belfast in finance, to become unemployed so she could switch into tech.  Within two months, she started as a software development apprentice.  Three months before the end of that, with the offer of a permanent job, she resigned as it wasn’t for her.  She had failed at becoming a programmer.  She regretted her earlier decisions, and thought she should have gone to Dublin. 


But having stayed in Belfast, she found Lean In, she started the Women in Tech Lean In circle and met many incredible, inspiring, brilliant women, who helped carry her through her regret, and pick herself up at the end of it so that she could continue persevering.  And after three months of unemployment, she is about to start her new role (and considerable promotion) at SAP – a world-leading technology company.  She also recently became the second Lean In Regional Leader on the island of Ireland.   Because apparently, even when you fail, you win.

Glenda Nelson

Glenda is the Regional Manager for LHH NI with responsibility for talent mobility, career development and the delivery of Career Transition consulting and project management. With a range of previous employers from manufacturing, advertising and media sales and most recently as a Key Account Manager, Glenda has a wealth of commercial business experience.


In 2010 she joined Firmus energy and moved into a Key Account Management role with them in 2012. This involved building excellent, mutually profitable, relationships with business owners and directors throughout the industrial and commercial sector in Northern Ireland. Glenda also developed these relationships with key personnel in many public sector bodies including DFP, CPD, Education Authority, several local Councils and new “Super Councils”, and a wide range of non-governmental organisations eg NITB and NI Audit Office to name only two. This period of experience has allowed Glenda to develop a wide network of contacts in both public and private sector, which are of huge benefit to LHH candidates in a job search situation.


Since joining LHH, Glenda has continued her personal development by delivering quality career transition coaching to groups and individuals across the region and across all sectors of commerce, in private and public sectors. In addition to developing and growing the local business Glenda has built excellent relationships with the local teams of LHH’s major global contracts.

Ashleigh O'Neill

Ashleigh has over 10 years experience in recruitment working for PwC and then Allstate NI.


In PwC her role crossed over the full HR spectrum and she also spent time in their Forensics group but she focused mainly on recruitment. During her time there she supported a range of clients both public and private and recruited for roles from graduate level through to senior level appointments.


Spending the last 5 years at ANI she moved to recruitment within the IT sector and during her time here she has recruited for all business areas represented at ANI and for all levels. Expertise includes stakeholder management, resourcing, talent management and end to end recruitment.