Tara Howard is an entrepreneur and founder of the Venus Awards.
Frustrated by the lack of recognition of women and their achievements in business, she established the first Venus Awards in Dorset in 2009. Since then, the event has expanded to eight regions around the UK, with the 35th Ceremony to be held at the inaugural London Awards at the Waldorf in December 2018.
Tara’s experience in business has taken her around the world. She first moved to corporate London at the age of 18, and bought her first property at 22. She later returned to take over her family’s hotel business, transforming an historic hotel to a premier wedding destination and the number of weddings hosted per year from just three to over 100. Tara also managed to find the time to follow in her mother’s footsteps and qualify as a commercial pilot and flight instructor, and help produce a large scale opera in Toronto and New York.
A mother of four, Tara knows first-hand the many challenges facing women in their careers as well as the joys and opportunities of being a working mother. Vivaciously inspiring, Tara is passionate about helping empower more women in business to develop their self-confidence, to get the recognition they deserve, and to obtain all the success they need, no matter what their line of work.
Outside of work, Tara has always been eager to share her love of travel and adventure with her children. With them she has trekked to Everest Base Camp, cycled from London to Paris, completed the Bournemouth Pier-to-Pier Swim and traversed a Nepalese Glacier. For her next challenge she is set to kayak across the English Channel with her youngest.
Tara is Editor at Large of the Venus Magazine, soon to be host of Venus TV and podcaster to female entrepreneurs. She has been recognised with an Honorary Leadership Award by Leadership Awards UK along with industry leader Andy Street CBE, previously CEO of John Lewis and now the inaugural Mayor of the West Midlands, and management thought leader, Professor Vlatka Hlupic of Westminster University.
Tell us a bit about yourself
I am Tara Howard, the founder of the Venus Awards. I am an entrepreneur and my experience in business has taken me around the world. I have been a commercial pilot and flight instructor, and I am also a mother of four.
Did you ever sit down and plan your career?
I would like to say yes but it’s a definite no!
What inspired you to create the Venus Awards?
Prior to creating the Venus Awards, I was nominated for an award myself. I didn’t win, but it made me think – what is there out for women? At the time I was working flat out, looking after my four children and everything else that goes with it. I realised that I was not alone – there were, and still are, so many women working flat out, raising a family and managing an exhaustive list of day-to-day challenges – yet there was nothing out there to recognise what they were doing and celebrate their achievements. I wanted to change that and so the Venus Awards were born.
Have you faced any challenges along the way and if so, how did you deal with them?
Running a successful business is about solving problems so I guess every day is a challenge. I believe there is an answer to every challenge, you just need to find it. I think the biggest issue was self-created, biting off more than I could comfortably chew. Whilst it is a blight of many entrepreneurs, what it taught me is to plan more carefully before opening my mouth!
If you could change one thing for women in the workplace, what would it be?
Part of what we are about at Venus is driving a conversation so that men and women together can look at the challenges people are facing in the workplace, and work together for change. It is crucial for leaders to be part of this if change is going to be effective. We already talk to CEOs and we would like more CEOs and leaders to get engaged with this, as well as find ways for middle management to be on the same page. Once we get to the stage where key people throughout the organisation are asking what the experiences are of women in their organisations, and what can be done to improve the situation, we will really be able to move forward.
What has been your biggest achievement to date?
Over the years the Venus Awards have been running, there have been many women that have come up to me and told me that winning an award has literally changed their life. Sometimes the awards has helped raise their profile in a way that meant they could take their business to the next level. Sometimes it has been because it has given them just the boost to their confidence that they needed. I find it incredibly moving to hear those stories. It is an honour to be a part of their journey and to support them in any way we can. I also have to say that a big one was getting my first pilot’s license. It was a big turning point for my own confidence.
What is your next challenge and what are you hoping to achieve in the future?
2018 is a really exciting year for the Venus Awards because for the first time we are launching in London. The Awards are already up and running in eight regions around the UK, and London is a really exciting new region for us to go to. We know there are millions of women in London with stories to tell – about their achievements across multiple industries, the challenges they face and what they have gone through to get where they are today. We are really looking forward to hearing those stories, and actually celebrating with those women what they have done. The nominations will open in May and the award ceremony will be at the Waldorf in December so we are expecting some very busy months ahead.