Women in Business hosts first Female Entrepreneur Conference in Limavady

L to R: Roseann Kelly of Women in Business; entrepreneurs Tina McKenzie, Petra Wetzel and Leah Totton; Jayne Taggart of the Causeway Enterprise Agency
Andrew Madden

FORMER Apprentice series winner and Derry native Dr Leah Totton was among the speakers as more than 200 businesswomen gathered for the Northern Ireland's inaugural Female Entrepreneur Conference in Limavady.

Ran by the Women in Business network and the Causeway Enterprise Agency, it was organised to coincide with Wednesday’s International Women’s Day and showcased some of the premier female entrepreneurs from the north.

The conference - whose sponsors included the Irish News, PSNI and Enterprise NI - was presented by former BBC journalist-turned-businesswoman Sarah Travers, who said event would promote the "untapped potential for our daughters and granddaughters" in the business world.

Speaking to a marquee audience at Drenagh House, she said it was vital to "establish the important relationship we need to support our female entrepreneurs" in order for them to "push the boundaries and achieve wonderful things".

Tina McKenzie, managing director of the multi-million pound recruitment agency Staffline Group, was the first keynote speaker for the event, and said the slogan for the conference - "Be Bold"- was a key motivating factor behind her success.

"Being bold means, yes, you will get pulled back sometimes and get a kick in the teeth, but eventually you will find that being bold will project you forward," she said.

Ms McKenzie also said she had high aspirations for Belfast’s place in the business world, stating that "We believe that Belfast can be the Europe’s capital of entrepreneurship."

Also speaking was 2013 Apprentice winner Leah Totton. Originally an A&E doctor in a busy London hospital, at 24 she became one of the youngest-ever winners of the BBC show, which earned her a £250,000 prize and a business partner in Lord Alan Sugar.

Dr Totton now runs two successful cosmetic skin clinics in England, with plans for a third to open this year.

The young entrepreneur said she had a tremendous amount of respect for those who, unlike her, had to build their success from the ground up.

She also said that belief in her own skill-set was a the key driver for her meteoric rise up the business ladder.

"You can be the most creative innovator and you can have the idea, but really you need the ability and execution to deliver the concept," she said.

"That for me is what makes an entrepreneur."


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