The Power of a Female-Focussed Network – GDST at the Women of the Future Ambassadors’ Reception

The GDST is delighted to partner with Women of the Future to harness the power of a female-focussed network. Girls from eight schools within the GDST family attended the Women of the Future Ambassadors’ Reception on 14th of May.  

Women of the Future is an organisation with a purpose; fostering a collaborative female network which supports new generations of business leadership. Founder Pinky Lilani CBE DL, has said she set up Women of the Future and the Asian Women of Achievement Awards because “women who achieved wonderful things were there, but there were so many more than I envisaged. I think that’s important for other women to see… it makes you feel like you can achieve something great.”

Why female-focussed networks are helpful

It’s an unfortunate fact, reported by Forbes, women can suffer from a networking-specific form of imposter syndrome; ‘female senior executive interviewees who had already achieved high levels of  success in their careers were hesitant to network, because they doubted their own abilities.’ 

And yet studies have suggested that women benefit from close inner circles and wider networks; ‘women face a greater challenge in networking to find professional opportunities – they, more than men, need to maintain both wide networks and informative inner circles in order to land the best positions.’  

Women of the Future are actively remedying this. Amy Durrant, event MC and Founder-Director of Bold Strokes Agency, quoted the saying “if you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together”.  

At the summit, speakers gave female-focussed careers advice. Serena Kern, musician and lawyer, told girls to make their individualism a superpower. Baroness Goldie DL reminded us that an element of nerves and challenge empowers you, but to beware of organisations and people that induce constant stress. Chief Inspector at the Met Police, Rhona Hunt, advised the audience to take their time, ask for feedback and “eat an elephant one bite at a time” in daunting scenarios. 

Creating Women of the Future at GDST

Seeing women do great things inspires the next generation in life and business. This is a fundamental tenet of our approach at the GDST, and the reason why we created our LEAD programme to mentor entrepreneurial Sixth Formers.  

Fostering self-belief was encouraged at the event – with GDST girls making powerful statements about their own abilities.  

Learning and Development Manager, Karen Kimura, says: 

“I love seeing GDST students step out of their comfort zones to network with ambassadors from a variety of sectors.  Girls get to learn what kind of skills are valuable regardless of the business type, and find out about roles they hadn’t even heard of.  The excitement is always palpable, especially when they discover GDST alumnae amongst the ambassadors!” 

How to build a female-focussed network:

It can be tricky knowing where to start with building networks and connections. Our advice to GDST girls, and young women in general, is:  


1. Don’t be afraid to ask

Networking can be intimidating. But the advice from Women of the Future rings true:; people want to help other people, and the worst someone can say is ‘no’! Take a chance and introduce yourself online or in-person.


2. Quality over quantity

A great network isn’t defined by the number of LinkedIn followers you have. Strategically focus on your interests and aspirations when building connections. If you’re drawn to a legal career for instance, seek opportunities to meet female partners and barristers.


3. Ask for advice, and offer opinions too

An obvious reason for building networks is seeking advice and support in your career and wider endeavours. But you have worthwhile skill-sets and opinions too. Reverse mentoring exists for a reason; if you have a point of view, share it!


4. Use social networks, as well as in-person opportunities

Meeting people in real life is valuable, but so is fostering your online network. Reach out to inspirational people on LinkedIn. Remember to connect virtually with women you’ve met in-person. Forward a post you think might interest someone. You never know where a conversation starter will take you.


5. Build your network across the GDST

Our careers advice to GDST girls is to seek students, and alumnae, in other schools who share your interests and ambitions. You could go on to do great things, together.  Get to know them at events, or virtually on our GDST Life networking platform by joining groups and connecting individually.  Sixth Formers can use our Rungway app to ask questions to recent alumnae about careers, university applications and life after school in general.

We’re committed to creating networking opportunities for GDST pupils, like Women of the Future’s Asian Women of Achievement Awards which our students were lucky enough to attend following this summit. Laura Cooper, Head of Futures & Aspirations at Streatham & Clapham High School, summed up the event:

“We had a brilliant time at the AWA awards. Not only did we have an amazing three course dinner in our finest glad rags, but we got to spend the evening in esteemed company of those celebrating the achievements of the many awe-inspiring Asian women in the UK, who have done the most impressive things this year. From building COVID centers, to launching highly successful start-ups ; across the board, all nominees showed a sense of community and unrivaled resilience, often despite their own personal and societal setbacks.

“We were honoured to be part of the audience celebrating the contribution  to our lives that so many Asian women in multi-ethnic companies/charities/bodies have been part of for so long and hope to be part of this wonderful event for years to come. Thank you to Imraan and the team for looking after us so well!”