Latest News

Posted on: March 4th 2022

Women in Leadership

Name: Rebecca Homewood

Role: Company director

Company: Silver Penguin Ltd

A bit about you: I am a law graduate and practiced immigration and criminal Law for a few years before finding myself in London in the mid 90s working for a publishing house at the beginning of the digital revolution. I never intended to change career paths, the move into advertising and marketing was supposed to be a stop gap while I looked for a new Law firm to join. 

It was an exciting and glamorous time to be at the beginning of something so new and my work ethic from practicing law meant I was promoted quickly. I found myself becoming the publishing manager of a group of Men’s lifestyle magazines from which I was responsible for launching one of the first commercial websites in my 20’s.  I enjoyed a lot of international travel to places like Cannes, New York, Canada working with investors and advertising clients. It was extremely rare at the time for women to be promoted to board director positions in large international businesses, but I am pleased to say that I broke through the glass ceiling and became an advocate for investing in training and promoting women into senior positions within the digital sector. 

A few years ago, my son became ill, and I needed to be available to support him, so I decided to launch my own marketing and business consultancy, helping small business connect better with their customers. I am also studying for a qualification in Child and Adolescent Mental Health.

What is it like working in your company? Having my own business has given me the flexibility I need in my personal life, but it would not have been possible without the hard graft of getting a degree and building a career based on years of experience. The flexibility is great but working alone can sometimes be isolating so I make sure I work with other local female professionals in complementary fields such as website design and I am a member of Women in Business which is a national organisation promoting small to medium sized female led businesses.

Why did you decide to go into your chosen field? I chose Law as a degree because I thought it might be interesting and a career which I could ultimately use to help people. While I am no longer a lawyer, in every role I have had I have used the skills I learnt at University and Law school from managing challenging clients to writing and understanding business contracts. I believe that the transferable skills learnt in a vocational degree and post graduate qualification can be the difference between doing well and being given career opportunities your peers may not have.

What qualifications and work experience did you need to reach your current position? Before deciding to study Law at university I did a number of weeks of work experience at different solicitors’ firms and Barristers chambers to identify which field of law I wanted to pursue. I also did many months of voluntary work with the Citizens Advice Bureau while I was studying for my Post Graduate qualification.

As well as a degree and postgraduate qualification in Law, all through my career I have taken the opportunity to learn. Any training offered I would jump upon from negotiation training through to management training. One of the companies I worked for also paid for me to go on a residential Harvard Business course. I don’t think there should every be a point in our lives where we close ourselves off to developing ourselves and learning something new. The moment we do we begin to be left behind.

What do you enjoy the most about your job? Solving people’s challenges.

What obstacles have you overcome in your career? It is 2022 - you would think we would have got over the challenge of juggling being a parent and having a career, but it remains the elephant in the room for many women looking to achieve leadership roles in business.  I think the world is slowly changing in that gender stereotypes are no longer tolerated and there is a more equal balance of shared family responsibilities, but the truth is that having a career you love and a family you cherish will always take some careful planning, compromising and flexibility whether you are male or female.

Why do you think it is important to have a strong female representation in your industry? I think its important to have balanced female representation in any industry. We bring our unique set of skills, ways of thinking and experiences. We see things through a different lens to our male counterparts.  We should always ask, who is the best person for the job? if the answer is  a man more than 50% of the time, then there is fundamentally something wrong with how woman are being recruited and trained for key roles.

What advice would you give those wanting to take a similar career path? Choose a degree that is either in a field that you are extremely passionate about or that will give you the currency to get ahead in any career you choose by giving you transferable skills that employers can benefit from. Get as much work experience as you can in interesting fields and learn all you can from it. Don’t treat it as a tick box experience, those who give you those early work experience opportunities are your advocates and your referees. They could be the difference between you landing your first dream job or not! Work hard and always ask yourself, how could I do it better? Passion not perfection.

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