Inspirational Woman: Sam Simster | Co-founder, GEN M

Sam Simister and Heather JacksonI’m Sam, I love science, always wanted to be a doctor and fell into the Food Industry, mainly due to the unexpected opportunity of an undergraduate placement at M&S.

I have spent 8 years working in the US and travelled pretty much everywhere with my job which  gives me incredible energy.

Today I am a Bored Director (yes, that’s how we spell it) at innocent drinks, accountable for the Future Development of our products across Europe and overseas into new places. When I met the Founders I was only going to stay for a couple of years. That was 15 years ago and I’ve had pretty much every job from driving our grassy vans to picking the mangoes.

I am menopausal and in addition to my Bored role have co-founded GEN M with my good friend Heather who happens to be perimenopausal. GEN M is a digital platform that brings together the very best of the menopause in one place.  With the realisation that we were both woefully unprepared for what had hit us both we decided on responsible and positive action. Our purpose being to make the menopause better today than yesterday.

I am married to Jamie who is my partner in crime for all things outside of work and thankfully, puts up with my craziness.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

God no. I see an opportunity, think whether I have the skills and go for it. Where I lack experience and/or capability  I surround myself with talented people better equipped than myself. It’s worked so far.

Have you faced any challenges along the way?

Growing up in the Corporate World in the late 80’s and 90’s was a minefield and it’s a miracle I achieved anything. Sadly sexism has been the biggest hurdle.

What has been your biggest achievement to date?

Jumping on the opportunity of a 1 way ticket to Manhattan for a job that was far bigger than me  and making something of myself.

What one thing do you believe has been a major factor in you achieving success?

Having great sponsors along the way

How do you feel about mentoring? Have you mentored anyone or are you someone’s mentee?

Incredibly passionate about it. I have had some brilliant mentors who have not shied away from the tough stuff. I have mentored many young people over the years and continue to do so today. It’s a privilege and the responsible thing to do now that I have some silver hair.

If you could change one thing to accelerate the pace of change for Gender Equality, what would it be?

Remove the Leaders at the top that do not respect the need and take accountability for,  identifying, sponsoring and developing their younger female talent through the organisation.

If you could give one piece of advice to your younger self what would it be?

Don’t be afraid to take a risk, make a mistake. Just don’t make the same one twice.

What is your next challenge and what are you hoping to achieve in the future?

Leading and driving GEN M to its full potential with Heather . To be globally recognised as the best of the menopause in one place and thought Leaders driving change.

How did your new venture of creating GEN M come about?

As a busy, time poor woman, I soon recognised that google menopause and you’re faced with  a disparate landscape.  Alarmed and frustrated with the lack of credible information and solutions for my symptoms, this turned to anger which we ultimately channelled into plugging the gap for a purpose built one stop site curating the best resources that are out there today.

Can you tell us more about the inspiration behind GEN M?

Both Heather and I are experienced, solution focussed business women. I am not so sure that it was inspiration that led us to creating GENM, more desperation (with humour) . We are also responsible, commercial  and purposeful. The menopause isn’t a gender issue, it’s a societal one and from our experiences, brands, retailers and manufacturers were failing to signpost midlife women to menopausal friendly products already existing across their categories and portfolios.

In addition, as working women and with the 50+ demographic being the fastest growing, our hypothesis was that employers could do more for their employees, as well as Customers.

Good businesses use intuition and data and our recent report GENERATION MENOPAUSE : The Invisibility Report clearly supports the fact that women in midlife are demanding more from businesses across the board for a number of good reasons.

How was the step from your past roles to becoming an entrepreneur business owner?

I have worked for  big business, SME’s and start ups. I think it’s more a philosophy and natural preference for autonomy, speed of decision making and agility that makes this an easy transition and not something I dwell on.

Can you tell us more about how GEN M can support those experiencing menopause at the pinnacle of their career?

In my experience it’s all about education and preparing yourself for what might be round the corner. As Heather always says, you wouldn’t wake up one day and decide to run a marathon. You’d train and prepare. The Perimenopause and Menopause years are no different really.  We know that most women experiencing the menopause are busy and time poor. A key stat from our research found 96% of women are calling for a dedicated site bringing together the best of the menopause in one place.

GEN M does just that. We curate the best information,  experts in their fields, latest products and services the menopause has to offer. Both individuals and their employees and colleagues can access this information which can also be the catalyst and trigger for a great conversation as to how to provide a better support system for people at work.

WeAreTheCity has a back catalogue of thousands of Inspirational Woman interviews, including Cherie Blair, Paula Radcliffe MBE, Caprice Bourret, Anna Williamson and many more. You can read about all our amazing women here

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