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Smashing The Ceiling

Dec 30, 2018

Time flies doesn't it?! We've nearly reached the end of 2018, and the usual lists of people that have influenced the year are being published in every newspaper and magazine, along with predictions of the movers and shakers for 2019. We'll be returning with a guest next week, but in the meantime I thought I'd share a few thoughts on women that have influenced the spheres of business, politics, culture and sport this year that you may or may not have heard of, but who are definitely shaping our society one way or another. 

They are....

Sacha Romanovich -  a powerhouse in the City of London who became the first female CEO of a top British accountancy firm when taking the helm at Grant Thornton in 2015. In September an anonymous employee sent a lengthy memo to the press attacking Romanovich's leadership and disclosing details of Sacha’s confidential performance review in a bid to undermine, humiliate and embarrass her. She subsequently resigned in October, and is included here as a symbol of the tenacity, determination and grit required for a woman not just to get to the top but also to stay there.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez - the monumental rise of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has caught the eye of many people this year, and she is being tipped to be a major force in American politics in the future. Alexandria was born in the Bronx in New York to Puerto Rican parents, and when she takes office on January 3rd 2019 will be the youngest woman ever elected to the House of Representatives as a Congresswoman at the age of just 29. In winning the Democratic nomination she defeated a seasoned politician in Joe Crowley, whose campaign budget was 18 times that of Ocasio-Cortez. She is a community organiser and grassroots politician in a similar vein to Barack Obama and is already being mooted as a future Democratic presidential candidate.

Farrah Storr - Since taking the helm at Cosmopolitan magazine n 2015, Storr has increased circulation by a whopping 59%. She inherited a massive heritage and a massive team who were very loyal to her predecessor, and nearly 80% of whom resigned within 3 months of her arrival as editor-in-chief. She has shown her resilience though and in addition to the continuing success of the magazine, has made 2018 her year through the publication of her book The Discomfort Zone: How To Get What You Want By Living Fearlessly, which has gone on to huge commercial success. Farrah talks about the loneliness of being a boss, and the pressure created by the myth that women can "have it all", ironically a concept developed and perpetuated by the magazine she now edits. Storr and her husband have made a positive choice not to have children, and speaks eloquently about the peace she feels with their decision, no longer needing to justify herself constantly to others she meets. I love that she talks so openly about this, and that by getting on the front foot she has avoided some of the flak that other powerful and influential women have endured on this.

Ester Ledecka - Just before Christmas we had our first Olympian on the podcast, and I’ve chosen another Olympic athlete - one from the Winter Olympics this time - as my under-the-radar sporting icon of the year. At the Winter Olympics in South Korea this year, Ester Ledecka caused an enormous sporting upset by winning gold in the Super G skiing. She was ranked 49th in the world, and had never been on the podium before, let alone won a major event. But win gold she did, by 0.01 seconds, on a pair of skis that she had borrowed from another athlete just before the event. The look of absolute pure shock and disbelief on her face, and that of EVERYONE in the crowd was such a moment in sport - I happened to be watching it and it’s one that will certainly stick with me. But what makes this story even more remarkable than a classic underdog upset is that skiing is not Ledecka’s primary sport. That’s snowboarding, and a week later, she went onto comfortably take a second gold medal in the snowboard giant slalom, becoming the first person to ever win 2 Olympic gold medal in two different sports at the same games. What a champion!

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