Inspiring Panel mark International Women’s Day


Staff and Students at Coleg y Cymoedd were delighted to welcome a panel of inspirational guests to the college’s Nantgarw campus, to mark International Women’s’ Day. Cymoedd’s Principal Karen Phillips opened the event, which brought together four guest speakers from a range of professions to participate in an interactive session.

Panellists included-

Tracey Smolinski, founder and Managing Director of Wales’ leading independent business network, Introbiz. The network boasts over 300 members from a wide range of industries and sectors, and hosts 60 networking events a year in various 4 and 5 star locations throughout South Wales and internationally.

Tracey spoke openly about how she got networking very wrong during her first three months as she was giving it the hard sell and almost completely gave up on it, but not before, she took on some very sound advice.

Representing Chwarae Teg, Learning Development Partner Beth Baldwin shared some personal challenges and her work within the organisation i.e. inspiring women in Wales to take ownership of their careers and develop their skills through delivery of our unique Career development programme. With over 20 years’ experience of empowering women to reach their potential, Beth’s mission continues to be  in supporting  women to be fulfilled with the choices they make. She was awarded a Pride of Britain award for charity fundraising and a dedication to making her life count by encouraging others to do the same.

Head of Operations at British Airways Interiors Engineering, Sarah-Jane Worley shared her experience of working at BAIE for over 21 years, both at BAIE and BAMC. The company maintain the interiors of the aircraft, safety equipment and manufacture carpets for the whole BA fleet. Sarah-Jayne outlined her personal learning journey and career path, demonstrating if you want something – you can achieve it.  Sarah’s activity, demonstrating lifejackets prepared at BAIE was enjoyed by staff and learners.  

Panel member, Rachel Rowlands, Chief Executive of Age Connects Morgannwg shared her memories of the Miners Strike to demonstrate how strong women are and the important role they play in our communities. She has a wealth of experience across a range of employment opportunities and in 2014, Rachel embarked on a Community Asset Transfer Project to transform a council owned older people’s day centre into a vibrant Community Hub in Aberdare.  The Project, called Cynon Linc, has attracted over £2.6m of investment from a range of sources, which will allow the hub to offer day-care facilities for up to 29 children, a GP Practice, a bistro and dementia café, sensory facilities, an Info Hub and the charity’s headquarters.

The event was well received by the audience, student Sarah James (17) from Porth said” I really enjoyed the session, each of the speakers had different inspirational personal stories to tell; but the message was the same from each of them – “Believe in yourself and you can achieve”!

Closing the event Principal Karen Phillips said, “This event has been an excellent opportunity for our students and staff to be inspired by such an experienced panel of interesting role models, who shared their personal experiences. There was a clear message from all panellists that with hard work and a positive attitude – anything is possible!

I would like to extend my thanks to all the speakers for joining the college to celebrate International Women’s Day. The college is keen to support its students in gaining career related experience and skills and has a female Mentoring Scheme which currently has 21 mentors; each highly successful and respected women within their professional fields”.

Inspiring Panel mark International Women’s Day



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