A Wrap-up of our International Women’s Day Event

Becky Mundie

Mar 2024 ⋅ 4 min read

A photo of the Empowering Women in the Workplace panel

On Wednesday 13th March 2024, we held our very own event - a RotaCloud first and certainly not last! We banded together local female professionals to celebrate International Women’s Day with an evening of drinks, nibbles, and networking (not necessarily in that order) while being joined by a panel of four very special speakers: Ashley Smith, Bethan Vincent, Rebecca Toppin, and our very own Jacki Challoner.

The evening was a truly inspirational one. Hearing from all four speakers and each of their experiences, insights, and advice was eye-opening and helped create a highly fulfilling event. The panel questions sparked thought-provoking discussions and highlighted the importance of gender equality in today’s workplaces.

Let’s meet the panel!

Our panel consisted of a real mix of industries, roles, and experiences. From hospitality to tech, independent business owners to event speakers - all four speakers shared an undying passion for what they do and navigating their male-dominated industries.

Ashley Smith, Co-founder of Women in Tech York

Since discovering her calling in Testing and Automation and co-founding Women in Tech York, Ashley has been making waves and shaking the status quo. Women In Tech York has flourished from humble beginnings to sell-out shows under her leadership. By discussing experiences and challenges around the likes of inclusion, wellbeing, and the pay gap, Ashley is paving the way to change, with attendees always taking something away that resonates. 

Bethan Vincent, Founder of Open Velocity

Bethan is a multi-time business founder, regular speaker and podcast host, and expert marketing strategist. In their 13+ years, Bethan has been responsible for developing and implementing marketing strategies in highly competitive markets. For this alone, they are truly an awe-inspiring figure in their industry. 

Rebecca Toppin, Owner of Robinsons Cafe

After working and training at Michelin Starred restaurants since she was 17, Rebecca found herself wanting to start something of her own - something more casual but to the same standard to everywhere she’s worked. She did just that with Robinsons Cafe, and greatly values sharing experiences of being in a male-dominated industry and owning an independent business.

Jacki Challoner, Product Manager at RotaCloud

After studying Dance, it took being sent to the WRONG interview to pave the way to an industry and role Jacki utterly loves. Jacki grew in the industry within 14 years and, as a single mum of two, she now understands the right work-life balance. 

Jacki didn’t attend the event alone, either - her two girls, Lyla and Cece, were sitting at the front row (with Cece eventually cuddled on Jacki’s lap), beaming up at their mum with pride. 

Now you’ve met our panel, it’s time we told you what happened and everything we learned…

Ashley, the driving force behind Women in Tech York, emphasised the importance of inclusivity. Bethan shared insights from their 13 years in marketing and navigating the world of non-male leadership. Rebecca spoke of the highs and lows of entrepreneurship and hospitality. Jacki offered a personal perspective on balancing career and motherhood.

It was truly an event for all - and not just for women, either! Many men joined the audience to listen, ask questions, and show support by simply joining the conversation. A ranged turnout like this truly helps implement change.

The panel touched on so much. But here are some topics and insights we’ll love to share with you:


  • There is no time limit on finding your passion. You can also find it completely by accident (like through attending the wrong interview or choosing a university module to avoid as many exams as possible!)
  • Know that loving your job can still burn you out - don’t take on too much at a time and focus on your wellbeing!
  • Embrace the failings! Everyone makes mistakes and you become more resilient each time.
  • Find communities to help share your experiences and passions!

Breaking barriers in leadership

  • Being the first at something doesn’t mean it’s always been unattainable. You’re simply the first and not compare yourself.
  • It pays to break the stigma. Attitudes are changing!
  • Build a community where support thrives. It can grow trust and help with creativity and difficult discussions.
  • People in your team often see you more than their families. Make people comfortable and celebrate shared wins and ideas.

Creating inclusive environments

  • We need to encourage and seek-out potential employees in industries where their gender is the minority (i.e. women as developers or chefs and men as wait staff or admin).
  • While we are trying to implement change and better rights for women, men can also struggle in female-dominated industries and around parental rights. Feminism is for gender rights for all, remember!
  • Everyone is their own person with their own lives, and remembering that can help you see employees and colleagues differently.

Work-life balance

  • Separating home-you and work-you isn’t always healthy - it can feel like wearing a mask sometimes. Just be you, in every sense. You’ll realise both those at home and at work will appreciate it.
  • Maintaining a healthy work-life balance can be more difficult than you think, but make the time!
  • If you choose to work longer and out of hours, that’s your choice! But don’t expect your team and employees to do the same.
  • If owning a business, it can be hard to step away or delegate tasks to staff - it is your baby, after all! But sharing responsibilities not only gives you more breathing space, but it also helps staff enjoy work more.


The evening concluded with a lively networking where attendees from varying industries and roles mingled & shared their experiences. The event was a resounding success with attendees leaving inspired, motivated and equipped with practical strategies for empowering themselves in their careers.

Needless to say, we at RotaCloud haven’t stopped smiling since. We are proud to have a strong representation of women in senior leadership roles and will continue to champion a culture of inclusivity where all individuals regardless of gender feel valued, supported and empowered. 

The Empowering Women in the Workplace was our first event, but certainly won’t be our last. Watch the highlights below!

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