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2nd March 2021

International Women’s Day 2021

The 8th March this year marks International Women’s day. This years’ theme is Choose to Challenge, so we challenged a couple of the women who work at Premier Vet Alliance (PVA) to share with us their thoughts on International Women’s Day and women in the workplace.

Jo Sutor: Customer Experience Manager, 3 months at PVA.

What does international women’s day mean to you?

To me it means progression and empowerment with a cause for celebration

If you could give some advice to a woman starting out her career in a customer service, what would you say?

Don’t be afraid to follow your heart and your head.  Intuition cannot be taught, also always put the customer at the heart of everything that you do.  Stay true to your beliefs and remember that criticism can be the most constructive feedback that you get, work with it not against it.

What qualities in a person make them a great leader?

Approachability, realistic, a great listener and a motivator.

What will you choose to challenge in 2021? 

Changing the perception that people still have of women being the weaker strength both physically and mentally, breaking down stereotypes especially whilst in a lock down situation where it is still perceived in the year 2021 that woman are the ones to look after the children!

Rachel Ellwood: Business Systems & Technology Director, 5 years at PVA.

How would you encourage young women of today to explore a career in technology?

Yes sure we need to encourage more Women to into technology. I would say follow a skill and role that interests them; there are so many different roles available from development coding, data communications to more hybrid roles. There are great opportunities to grow and there is always new emerging technologies to learn.

How can businesses benefit from having more women in leadership roles?

You need diversity in leadership roles to benefit a company, it brings together different perspectives.

What woman has positively impacted you in your career? What’s one lesson she taught you?

Early in my management career, I had a manager who always presented every problem as an “Opportunity” to embrace and learn something from.

What will you choose to challenge in 2021?

Celebrating achievements; everyone should make an effort to build people up and celebrate success. Never dim anyone’s light is a phrase I heard that resonates.

Jo Wells: Regional Practice Support Training Manager – 1.5 years at PVA.

What assumption do you want to change about women in the workplace?

I would like to believe that we are moving further away from the pre-historic stereotypical opinions and assumptions of women in business; sadly sometimes it can be the false assumptions women have about themselves dictated by past opinions on gender that can limit their own aspirations.

It is often forgotten that stereotypes do work both ways so in this ‘idealistic equal world’ we live in we should not forget that. We often hear critiques of women as being too sensitive, too emotional, poor negotiators, less assertive, lack in confidence and are too risk-averse for positions of leadership; these misconceptions are historical and should be a thing of the past. Today we should be appointing on merit not influenced by out of date preconceptions.

Everyone can contribute value, skill, business acumen and all can be effective leaders.

How can everyone get involved in International Women’s Day?

Donate a gesture for international women’s day; take part in an activity or take some time to celebrate or explore the modern day challenges for women.

To be an advocate and to celebrate women’s success in business and personal lives.

Invite other genders to partake in women’s blogs, debates etc.

Facilitate or organise an event with a charitable donation to a women’s cause.

Educate and create an open communication space for all genders to discuss historical taboo issues where and when appropriate; such as menopause.

What are the challenges and triumphs as a woman in business?

Development pathways can be limited due to default positioning in roles, and differences in ambitions between all genders, including family planning demands. Establishing a position of trust and respect within a company, increasing visibility of women and minority genders will increase their share of voice and encouragement to develop your career, no matter of your gender.

A great example of a triumph is becoming embedded in a team, working together as an unbreakable unit towards a common goal celebrating our successes along the way. When we play, we don’t just aim to win—we  collaborate and focus on individual strengths to contribute to achieve success

What will you choose to challenge in 2021?

Influencing behaviors through mentorship, providing lead and learn support. Business innovation through partnership working externally.

Nicola: Business Intelligence Analyst, 5 months at PVA.

What women inspire you? Within your career and in your personal life.

Professionally, my manager for my internship after my 2nd year of university Dr Samantha Decombel. She co-founded her company and ran the science department in which I worked. Sam encouraged me to use my strengths when approaching projects, and that thinking differently can be a great advantage. She also showed me that you can come from an academic background and still be business savvy.

Personally, I have 2 friends who are huge inspirations to me:

Sarah Jackson is a professionally competitive windsurfer and moves heaven and Earth to pursue her passion; search Sarah Jackson GBR 71 on any platform to see what a windsurfing expert can do!

Leah Topchik Cohen is a brilliant coder who has already launched two businesses – Runnr, a London based errand service and ithinki, a feedback tool for start-ups. She has shown me the power of making your own opportunities.

What do you see as the biggest challenge for women in business of your age?

As a millennial I think the biggest challenge is people thinking that the work is done, that there is no longer gender discrimination, that all genders are completely equal. Gender discrimination and misogyny, on an individual or systematic basis, are uncomfortable to think about, so many people don’t think about it. Nevertheless, it still needs to be confronted and changed.

As I have an affinity for numbers, I have chosen a few statistics from a report by to show some of the work that still needs to be done:

  1. Women were 5 percentage points more likely to have lost their jobs due to Covid-19 than men.
    1. Women comprise 77% of the labor force at high risk of contracting Covid-19.
    1. Women currently make 82.7% of men’s median hourly wages.
    1. Only 8 women (3.2%) held CEO roles in the FTSE 250 as of October 2019.


How important is it that women in business are encouraged to lift each other up and what does it mean to you?

I think a huge part of women lifting each other up is challenging each other to grow, achieve more and ask for what they deserve. I have benefitted from the women around me achieving great things, challenging me to do the same, and giving me the opportunities to try. Women should not only be encouraged to lift each other up but also be given the tools and space to do so.

What will you choose to challenge in 2021?

I challenge the wide-eyed reaction I get from fellow women when I say what my job is or what degree I did. It’s something I liked and I worked at it; regardless of my gender. It just happened to be in a male dominated field. I challenge women to look at what a woman has achieved and instead of assuming she is unusual or intelligent, and in doing so telling themselves that they are not those things, take a moment to reflect that they too are capable of achieving such things.


US Head Trainer, 4.5 years

What difference would you like to see in the work place in regards to gender equality?

I feel like there is currently a great balance in terms of gender equality within our business and in our industry. We work well together and appreciate each others strengths regardless of gender and I think the opportunities we have benefit from us working all as a team.

What personal skills can women bring to the vet industry?

I see women owning their own vet practices and building their own businesses and feel proud to work in an industry that enables this. While there may be some stereotypical differences between genders, I feel that it is all about skill sharing and all genders can benefit from any individual skillset.

How do you encourage other women in business?

Confidence is so important and as a new mom, who is also working, we do face some challenges that naturally men do not; but I see this as an opportunity and something to celebrate. Everyone is valuable within the business and personal circumstances can add a great new skillset into the mix! I like to encourage women to not forget how valued they are and everyone is a great asset to our team.

What will you choose to challenge in 2021?

I would like to focus on the positives and remind everyone to be confident in who they are, regardless of gender. We have a strong team working for the business with a good balance, respectful of gender and working together well as people.

Thank you to everyone that took part in our International Womens Day blog. What will you choose to challenge this year? It could be anything along the lines of smashing stereotypes, influencing behaviors to celebrating achievements.