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International Women’s Day 2023

International Women’s Day (IWD) is a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. The day also marks a call to action for accelerating gender parity. Significant activity is witnessed worldwide as groups come together to celebrate women’s achievements or rally for women’s equality.

Teesside Park is full of inspiring women, from the shop floor all the way to our centre management. Our centre team is fronted by a female director and a female dual service manager, a rarity in property management. To mark the importance of International Women’s Day, we caught up with a few of the ladies involved in our park to celebrate their achievements.

Demi Cornforth, Store Manager at Hotel Chocolat

Tell us a bit about yourself.

I’m Demi, the store manager of Hotel Chocolat. I’ve worked with the company for nearly 6 years and have built an amazing team around me. I’m currently 6 months pregnant with my first baby and really looking forward to my new chapter and learning new things about myself as I take on the challenge of being a parent.

Who inspires you the most?

The women in my family. All have had to deal with their fair share of bumps in the road and have all dealt with it in their stride which inspires me every day.

What is your biggest achievement in the workplace?

Becoming store manager and turning the store completely around, surpassing any previous performances. As well as building up an extremely strong team that all work together to make this happen. They have become like a second family to one another. The store or myself wouldn’t be what it is without the team I have around me.

This year’s International Women’s Day theme is #EmbraceEquity, what does this mean to you?

Embracing equity means to me ensuring that everyone has the same opportunities to develop themselves in whatever it is they desire.

Catherine Furlong, Centre Director at Teesside Park

Tell us a bit about yourself.

Mum to two teenage boys and a miniature dachshund called Wilf. I am a keen runner and have recently been appointed as a co-opted governor at a local secondary school, I also support my husband who runs his own business, so life is pretty busy!

Who inspires you the most?

Young people, my sons and their achievements so far. I enjoy working with young people on the programmes Teesside Park runs in partnership with the MFC Foundation, this year we will be asking a Year 9 cohort to redesign Teesside Park for the future, I am looking forward to being inspired by their ideas.

What’s your biggest achievement in the workplace?

I’ve had a few highlights in a 30-year career in retail and then property management. I worked for BHS through the 90s and became one of their youngest store managers at just 25, which was huge achievement at the time, now 25 years later my highlight is definitely CD at Teesside Park.

This year’s International Women’s Day theme is #EmbraceEquity, what does this mean to you?

There has been some great progress on moving to equality, but there is still much to do in terms of embracing it and making a real difference.

Lynne Morgan, Dual Service Manager, Teesside Park

Tell us a bit about yourself.

I’m Lynne, and I’ve been in the workplace almost 40 years, before working for Teesside Park I worked for 1 company for 31 years, rising through the ranks and succeeded in becoming a Regional Facilities Manager, which is a very male-dominated industry. This was inspired by having my son, and knowing I wanted more so I changed my career path and worked hard to get to where I am today. I also have two gorgeous grandchildren and a menace of a dog named Bruce.

I also have two gorgeous grandchildren and a menace of a dog names Bruce!

Who inspires you the most?

It’s difficult to pick any one person who inspires me – both my parents inspire me in different ways and have been my support for my whole life. They have both shown strength of character that they probably don’t even recognise. There have been many people in my working life who have inspired me to have confidence in my actions and to be honest and accountable.

What is your biggest achievement in the workplace?

Adult learning has probably been a big achievement, 35 years out of school and taking on an apprenticeship isn’t as easy as it might sound. But subsequently being able to coach my team through their apprenticeships to achieve distinction level was also good achievement as I was awarded the Apprentice Support Award. Passing my NEBOSH General Certificate was also quite an achievement. Every day is most definitely a school day!

This year’s International Women’s Day theme is #EmbraceEquity, what does this mean to you?

Initially, I started work in a female dominated factory environment in 1984. This was a time when manual labour was the first choice. It was interesting when I reflect that the workforce were predominantly women of all ages and often many members of the same family. But the management structure was predominately male.

During the 31 years I also saw the workforce be replaced with technology and machinery which meant that the local community saw a change in job opportunities for women. I’d like to think that shift pushed the younger generation to aspire to more and work towards getting jobs in management and more diverse roles such as structural engineers, builders, plumbers etc.

Although times have changed for women in the work place, I still believe that there is still more to be done. Equality shows itself in many forms, pay, status, promotional opportunities, inclusivity, and acceptance. It’s ok to challenge the status quo!

Lynsey Edwards, Head of MFC Foundation

Tell us a bit about yourself.

I’m born and raised on Teesside. I went to Conyers School and achieved a BSc and MSc at Teesside University, before starting my career working for Badminton England.

I’ve spent my career working in sports for development, first in badminton, then basketball before joining football in 2017. I came into football as Head of Participation and Development for Middlesex County FA, managing a team of eight to provide more grassroots and recreational opportunities for people to play, coach and referee in football.

Having enjoyed the impact football was able to have I really enjoyed the impact football was able to have and never more so than with the Premier League Charitable Fund where I worked with 90 club community organisations, including MFC Foundation, to deliver community-based programmes such as PL Kicks and Targeted.

Now as Head of Foundation at MFC Foundation, my role is to oversee the running of the organisation and support the team to do the great work they do across Teesside.

Who inspires you the most?

My parents most definitely. They grew up in Grangetown and worked and studied really hard to give me and my brother more opportunities than they did. They’ve always supported me to grow and develop, and I’ve always seen in them as my role models what can be achieved through hard work, love and support.

What’s your biggest achievement in the workplace?

Being in this role, as Head of Foundation of Middlesbrough FC Foundation. As a proud Teessider and Middlesbrough fan, it’s almost a dream to be able to do this role, working to support Teesside and represent the club. Made even more special by having such a brilliant team at the Foundation.

This year’s International Women’s Day theme is #EmbraceEquity, what does this mean to you?

Help others. Everyone at some point in their life and career will need support and help from others; I’m a big believer in paying it forward, helping others. #EmbraceEquity for me is helping others to have an equal platform.

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