International Women’s Day was marked at Moreton Hall this week with the school’s second Moreton Means Business Mini Conference. With their decades long track record of fostering entrepreneurial spirit amongst its pupils, not least with the school’s student run business, Moreton Enterprise, it was only fitting that the girls’ school near Oswestry, for the second year in a row, put Business at the top of its International Women’s Day agenda.

For pupils from year 9 upwards, the Moreton Means Business Mini Conference, provided a opportunity to gain first-hand insight from an impressive array of the region’s top entrepreneurs, both female and male. Conference delegates also included girls and boys from St Martin’s, The Corbet, The Priory and Ysgol Dinas Bran schools, so it was fitting that the keynote address to the 150 strong conference was delivered in the recently opened Holroyd Community Theatre.

Opening the conference, Old Moretonian and Moreton Enterprises mentor Clare Downes told the delegates: “All of our guest speakers feel passionately that they wish to share all that they have learned with you, to support you with preparing for your future career. They hope that this may help with understanding the opportunities and challenges ahead of you. You will learn about the skills that you need to be successful in making decisions, working within teams, launching new products, truly being your best, managing your time and developing your own personal confidence.”

The keynote address was given by Polly Barnfield OBE. Voted one on the top 100 women in UK Tech 2019 by Computer Weekly, entrepreneur and former International Sportswoman, Polly took the delegates through her journey from sporting glory to leading tech entrepreneur in a world still dominated by men, with her company Maybe*

Delegates then chose two of an impressive array of workshops on a variety of entrepreneurial topics from teamwork to time management and from starting up to managing change. Among the speakers were Old Moretonians, Annabel Abell, from  ReAssure; Tiffany Corbett, co-founder The Shropshire Flower Company and Caroline Strickland from Meridian Foods Limited. They were joined by HR Consultant, Kay Heald; Executive Coach and Mentor, Thea Roberts; Property Developer, Business Consultant and Co-Founder of My Shrewsbury Magazine, Joycelin Hoyland; MD of Wellmeadow Consulting, David Parry and husband and wife team, David and Beverley Penney, from Penney Financial Partners.

For the delegates the event was both inspiring and with their much discussed futures stretching ahead, reassuring. For Molly: ”It made me think about my motivations and helped me to  realise that there may be many stages to my career. I now appreciate that things will change along the way, but embracing those changes will be part of my career path.” Isobel added: It made me really think about what I expect and what I want to experience in each stage of my career”

The conference ended with a Question and Answer session during which the speakers were asked to reflect on their career journeys.  For Sofya this was the most inspiring part: “Hearing successful business people reflect on what they wish they had known when they were our age, for example, the fact that as long as it is an informed decision, there is no such thing as a bad decision was really inspiring, It was reassuring to see the bigger picture and despite how it can feel at the moment, it’s not just about A Levels!  There will be changes along the way and the stage we’re at now is just a starting point.”