To mark International Women’s Day on 8th March which asks people around the world to #breakthebias we talk to our CEO Mary McGrath about being a woman in business, her secrets to success and her role models…
WHAT DOES BEING A SUCCESSFUL BUSINESSWOMAN MEAN TO YOU?
Putting FoodCycle at the heart of everything I do means thinking strategically about how the charity is going to grow. It also means I have to be multi-disciplined. To run a successful charity there is no point being good at just one thing; you have to have the right strategy to source the income, gather the resources and get people through the door. It’s vital to have a purpose and then ensure you respond to any market conditions creatively while simultaneously planning for what you want to achieve. If you don’t have an end goal, you are lost.
HOW DO YOU THINK BEING A WOMAN HAS IMPACTED YOUR CAREER (IF AT ALL)?
Being a woman has allowed me to bring empathy and understanding into my working environment which I’ve been able to balance with being firm and making tough decisions. I’m proud to be part of the charity sector with plenty of women in the top roles but ultimately what has mattered to my own career is that I have the right skill set to succeed regardless of gender.
WHAT ADVICE WOULD GIVE OTHER WOMEN IN THE CHARITY OR BUSINESS SECTOR THAT YOU WISH YOU’D BEEN GIVEN?
You never know the path you’re going to take. So be true to yourself and find out what really matters to you, what inspires you, what gets you excited. If you follow that path, you will succeed. It’s okay to make mistakes with your career. When you start out you probably won’t know what you truly want to do. It’s okay to try a few different until you find what sparks the passion.
WHO ARE YOUR FEMALE ROLE MODELS?
Hilary Mantel is a great inspiration. It feels like she seeks out the truth. The truth is everything because, without it, we don’t trust and society breaks down. He’s not female but Jack Thorne, our ambassador, is another writer who seeks out the truth. He’s come from a humble background and he writes what is true to him. He’s also very generous in demonstrating his own vulnerabilities, which is at the heart of being human.
WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR PROUDEST GLASS CEILING MOMENT?
Getting the MBE felt important last year but so did watching our FoodCycle Projects get back to community dining after the pandemic. For me, hearing a guest tell me what our service has meant to them, beats any personal glass ceiling moment. Though I’m hoping the real glass ceiling moment will be when everybody in the UK recognizes that community dining is an incredible way to make friends, eat well, and change behavior.