Celebrating IWD #inspireinclusion we spoke to Focus BDM, Anne Marie Crawford, about her career journey, family and the importance of International Women’s Day.

Please tell us a little bit about yourself.

I moved to Northern Ireland aged 10. At 18 I attended University in Birmingham and did a placement at the ICC in Birmingham, then I was hooked on the event and hospitality side of the industry. I left Uni and worked for a few hotel groups, including Marriott, Accor, IHG and then moved to the agency side of the industry with 13 years + at Hotelscene, Inntel and now Focus Travel Partnership.

Can you name someone who has inspired you and why?

My family inspire me, firstly my parents – they made a difficult decision to move back to Northern Ireland in the middle of the “troubles” to be with elderly parents and bring two young girls up in a challenging world. Secondly – my husband, like me left Northern Ireland for Uni and was determined to be the best person he could be, he’s worked in different countries and dealt with everything that throws at you and he has been very successful in his career. Finally, my children inspire me, as I feel that I learn as much from them as they do from me, the way they deal with challenges makes me want to be the best person I can be, support them and let them make their own decisions enabling them to be the best persons they can be.

Can you share an experience that has helped to highlight the importance of IWD for you?

I’ve had a few situations where being a woman was not the best experience, however I believe that everything happens for a reason and all the steps in my career, good and bad have led me to this point. I believe that people should be appointed to a position as they are the right person to do the job, not due to gender, age, faith, or any other reason. When all organisations do this – there will be no need for a women’s day or any other specific day as we will have reached the equilibrium.

What do you think are the most pressing issues facing women you know at present?

Financial support, cost of living crisis and there is still an association that women will want time off for family related things etc however a good employer and leader will know that the person who takes that time for the school run or the dentist or anything else when they receive that support will pay it back in bucket loads as it shows empathy to your team and understanding of a work life balance.

How important do you think mentorship is in empowering women and fostering leadership?

Mentorship is important for everyone, you need to have someone you can bounce ideas off to help grow as an individual.

What changes would you like to see for women over the next decade?

As mentioned earlier, it’s not just changes for women it’s realising that everyone has a place and a reason and recognition of this fact and understanding will lead to the equilibrium that we need in society in general. Everyone has their challenges, everyone is trying to survive, no one is any better than anyone else, however Society, Social Media and organisations pigeon hole individuals into these areas and then we start to see the divisiveness of human beings.

What is your proudest achievement so far?

My career and my family.

What can we all do to celebrate IWD and help achieve equality and inspire inclusion?

Talk about IWD and inspiring inclusion and make it commonplace not just for specific days of the month/year, the more we make it an everyday occurrence the less we will see a lack of equality and inclusion.

IWD Anne Marie Crawford