Making Mentoring Work for Women

The Essex Business School is hosting an event to celebrate International Women's Day.

  • Fri 8 Mar 24

    12:00 - 14:30

  • Colchester Campus

    On campus (EBS.2.1) or Online

  • Event type

    Lectures, talks and seminars

  • Event organiser

    Essex Business School

Women's Working Group

The Women's Working Group at Essex Business School aims to promote gender equality in the workplace by elevating women's voices and raising awareness about challenges faced by women at work. 

This event will involve a panel discussion on the topic ‘Making Mentoring Work for Women’ and the meeting will be chaired by Anna Sarkisyan. All are welcome to attend the event.


The Women’s Working Group aims to:

  • Be a focal point for women in the Essex Business School community;
  • Provide a supportive and secure space for women to share their experiences and challenges;
  • Organise regular events to raise awareness and promote the discussion of gender equality and issues that women face in the workplace (including childcare, fertility, menopause);
  • Engage with female alumni of the Essex Business School.



The Women's Working Group is open to all staff and students at Essex Business School. If you are interested in getting involved, please contact the co-chairs.


Professor Claudia Girardone

Professor Claudia Girardone

Dean of Essex Business School

Essex Business School, University of Essex

Professor Girardone holds several external academic positions, including as an Academic Fellow at the Centre for Responsible Banking and Finance (CRBF) of the University of St Andrews, and as a Member of the Scientific Committee of the EU-Mediterranean and African Network for Economic Studies (EMANES). Between 2015-2019 she was a Visiting Scholar in the Competition and Impact Assessment Team within the Bank of England’s Prudential Policy Directorate. Professor Girardone’s research areas are on banks' financial and social performance, banks' corporate governance and stability, the industrial structure of banking and access to finance. She has published over 70 articles in books and peer-reviewed international journals, including the Journal of Corporate Finance, European Journal of Operational Research, Small Business Economics, and the Journal of Banking and Finance. She is a co-author of the textbook “Introduction to Banking” (Pearson, 2021) and she is currently on the Editorial Board of several journals including the Journal of Financial Economic Policy and The European Journal of Finance. She was also joint Guest Editor of several Special Issues including: the British Journal of Management on “Corporate Governance in Extreme Institutional Environments”; and the Journal of Corporate Finance on “Diversity and Women in Finance”. Professor Girardone is a Trustee of the Money Macro Finance Society (MMF) and Chair of the MMF Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Committee. She recently held a British Academy / Leverhulme small grant on socially responsible banking and the impact of the pandemic. She has been a member of the Athena Swan Panel at Essex Business School since 2017, fostering equality and diversity principles in research policies, practices and culture.   

Bridget Connell

Executive Coach

Bridget spent 25 years in technology and innovation at logistics giant DHL and mobile phone operator Telefonica. She has a portfolio career as an executive coach, business mentor, and board advisor. She was named as one of the UK top 20 female investors primarily for her mentoring of women entrepreneurs. The transition from graduating with a degree in History to an enjoyable international career she puts down to having support from great mentors along the way.   

Sam Honey

Executive Vice-President

Compliance Division, Ideagen

Sam is an accomplished senior executive with over 27 years of global commercial leadership experience gained in high profile companies, with a focus on the technology, telecoms and media sectors. Sam is currently EVP & MD, Compliance Division for Ideagen, a company providing software solutions to regulated and high-compliance industries. As EVP & MD, she shapes and delivers the division’s strategic growth agenda, and enhances Ideagen’s leadership in the compliance market. Prior to joining Ideagen, Sam was Chief Customer Officer for technology business Avast plc, driving significant growth for the business before helping to steer the business through its successful merger with Norton. Previously, Sam held transformational strategic roles at BT plc and News UK. Sam is an associate member of the Chartered Management Accountants, and an alumnus of Essex University (BA Hons Accounting and Financial Management 1996). Her career in technology and telecoms began in O2, where after several roles in commercial finance, she became Head of Sales for one of the company’s largest and most influential customers and revenue contributors. Her leadership career with O2 continued with a two-year period as Chief of Staff to the CEO, Digital Services, before leading the largest customer P&L for the company in 2014, where she delivered industry-leading growth for the business. Sam is a passionate champion of diverse and inclusive company cultures. She is an active supporter and informal mentor to numerous female executives and has been a mentor to an entrepreneur through the Cherie Blair Foundation. She lives in Berkshire with her husband, teenage daughter, and dog, and enjoys keeping fit through weight training, cooking, and spending time with her family.

Claire Penketh

The Chartered Institute for IT

Clare graduated from the University of Essex in 1984 with a joint honours in Government and History. After spending a couple of years temping in London and Australia, she did a post-graduate diploma at the University of Central Lancashire in Radio & TV journalism. Clare spent 10 years in local radio, then almost four years in Hong Kong working for a TV company as a newsroom producer/reporter, and later making documentaries during and after the handover of the territory back to China. On her return to the U.K. in 2000, she worked for BBC World Service Radio as a programme and bulletin producer reporting on major events such as 9/11, the occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan, and the Middle East. When she had her son in 2005, she took redundancy from the BBC and retrained as teacher/lecturer in the post 16 sector, going on to work part-time as a teacher/lecturer in media studies, employability skills and IT at the local university, an FE college and in Adult Education. She also set up a community radio station in my home town of Stroud. This was a rather precarious but exciting time as she raised funds for the station, as well as running it. The station had a staff of three, along with 70 volunteers - and it was on air 24/7. Funding came from delivering training courses in radio and employability skills, mostly for those marginalised in society. When funding for the station ran out after five years as austerity measures kicked in she returned to the World Service as a freelance producer, whilst also taking on PR contracts, and writing for her local newspaper. Five and a half years ago she started full time at BCS, The Chartered Institute for IT - the professional body for people working in technology. Initially she was a press officer but now works mostly in policy development. Claire feels that it is exciting as we head towards an election. It’s also an amazing time in technology too as the world becomes increasingly digital, which raises all sorts of challenges as well as opportunities which BCS does its best to advise the government, political leaders and educators about.    

Leila Thomas

CEO and Founder

Urban Synergy

Leila Thomas is the CEO and Founder of Urban Synergy, an award winning, accredited Mentoring Charity, founded in 2007. Leila has over twenty years in the tech industry building IT networks. Leila is currently seconded from the London Stock Exchange group (LSEG), to lead the charity’s expansion and development of programmes, in London and ethnically diverse cities in the UK. Leila pivoted the charity’s strategy and developed online e-Mentoring, e-Seminars, online work experience externships and parent support programmes. Urban Synergy Inspire, Guide and Ignite the ambitions of young people and to date have helped over 27,000 young people, with their bank of more than 1000 relatable role models.