From her own humble beginnings to running the bfa, Pip Wilkins has acquired an intimate understanding of the importance of celebrating women in franchising
I was 19-years-old when I entered the world of franchising as an admin assistant, supporting the British Franchise Association (bfa) in its work representing the UK franchise industry. At that time I could never have dreamed of being where I am today, chief executive of the organisation. It’s pretty unusual in this day and age to stay in one place for 20 plus years and with only 8% of females holding CEO positions in FTSE 100 companies. I hate to say it but it’s rare to have a woman at the helm.
It’s fair to say franchising has been the main focus in my life and being with the bfa put me at the heart of the action. I’ve had the pleasure to spend time with a wonderfully supportive network of people from all walks of life throughout my journey and their learnings have been invaluable.
The Rockefeller Foundation in the US conducted research with 57 female CEOs in an attempt to identify a blueprint for success in female leaders. The findings of all participants evidenced that two-thirds didn’t realise they could be a CEO until someone else told them, describing themselves as intensely focused on driving results rather than on their advancement and success. This was also true in my case. It took 17 years of focus and commitment to the industry, coupled with a deep knowledge and breadth of experience before I contemplated moving to my current role. Even then I never really thought I’d attain the position.
It is well-known that women in business are under-represented, as such, it is a personal goal of mine to set about changing this in the franchise industry at least. Five years ago I designed Women in Franchising, later rebranded Empowering Women in Business, an event showcasing female successes in franchising and providing a platform to facilitate valuable networking and learning opportunities for women in the industry. The event has seen many women take to the stage and even some who wouldn’t naturally gravitate towards the spotlight. It became apparent there were many examples of modest leaders delivering amazing results that needed to be uncovered and talked about. In 2018 the event will take place on Thursday November 15 in Nottingham. We will extend reach to any woman that wants to start, build or further grow her businesses or personal development experience.
Whether you have a business in need of a proven growth strategy, a personal ambition to achieve the perfect work-life balance without forfeiting success in the process or just want to enter a business where you can become a brand ambassador working with a like-minded network, franchising could be the answer. Franchising is about people, motivating teams, collective ambition – making a difference to people’s lives. It’s hugely rewarding and emotional intelligence is key. I believe many of the traits and skills that result in success in this industry naturally reside in females. Motivated by a sense of purpose, a belief that business can have a positive impact on its community, its employees or the world around them. These drivers are a powerful mix for building a pipeline of future female leaders and are critical skills required to successfully navigate ambiguity and complexity in a rapidly changing world.