From time to time I am asked who my role model is and why.
My answer has been the same person for quite some years – a woman who inspired me, altered how I thought about design and had an impact on her industry. And took no prisoners.
As Terence Conran’s sister, Priscilla Carluccio was intimately involved in many of his business interests from the early days of Habitat, developing the Conran Shop and the growth of Storehouse. Latterly she founded Italian-style deli brand, Carluccios with her then husband, Antonia Carluccio, before launching the easy dining chain we know today. I admired her energy, her creativity and single-minded vision enormously. She was an unsung hero that had a huge impact on the high street.
And obviously she is female. I both knew and worked with her.
When I think about who I would choose as a male role model, I’m less certain who I would pick. It feels a lot harder to find someone of the opposite sex that encompasses all the traits I value as a person, as a visionary and inspiration. This set me wondering whether women largely pick female role models, whilst men pick other men.
With the comparative paucity of women figureheads compared to men in companies, organisations and charities, finding a female role model will potentially be harder for young women coming through. And we all know the truth of the adage that ‘you can’t be what you can’t see’. So I feel very lucky that I knew Priscilla, yet wonder how women in tech and other male dominated industries manage to find role models to inspire them.
Perhaps we should be encouraging young men and women to look for a role model of both sexes to ensure a much greater spread of understanding, of the traits that inspire and are valued. They may be the same or be different in each person that they choose. It would help to break down barriers in ways both industry and society needs right now.
And with research clearly showing that companies with a mixed team of women and men at the helm are more profitable than those without, it not only makes financial sense but gives role models for younger men and women coming through.
So this Galentine’s Day – why not choose both a role model of both sexes for the year ahead. And encourage your friends and team to do the same too.
About the author
Erica Wolfe-Murray works across the creative, cultural and tech sector helping companies to innovate through imaginative use of their intellectual assets/IP. Referred to by Forbes.com as ‘a leading innovation and business expert’, she is the author of ‘Simple Tips, Smart Ideas : Build a Bigger, Better Business’, shortlisted for the Business Book Awards 2020, Business Self-development category (judging 23.3.20). It’s full of easy-to-use advice on innovative ways to grow your business and isa vailable from Foyles, Amazon and all other good bookshops.