Here, Simone talks about the importance of being yourself, going with your gut and paying it forward as a leader - and what she hopes delegates at this year’s conference will take away from her session.

Simone Roche is CEO and founder of Northern Power Women, a campaign to connect and engage with people and organisations on the subject of gender equality by harnessing business and political support to promote positive change for women in the workplace.


What does ‘leading differently’ mean to you?

I think that we all have our own style and authenticity. So you should never lead like someone else. You should always embrace who you are, be the best version of yourself and lead in that way. The most important thing is leading authentically.

So what is unique about your leadership style?

I’m true to myself now. Therefore, it’s about me supporting the people who work with me to be the best version of themselves, which in turn will help support my business. I’m very invested - I care. I care about the people who work with me and without doubt that care comes back.

What has been your greatest learning experience that has helped you develop your style?

I love learning. Even from my very first experiences in the Royal Navy - when I would say yes to every opportunity and not be afraid - I would do things that were massively out of my comfort zone, but I knew I would learn from them.

But I’ve learnt so much from every job I’ve done - at Blackpool Pleasure Beach where I had a team of 80, I learned so much from all the people around me.

Every day is a school day! I’m still learning. You can never know everything. Right now, every day, I can still be amazed by what I learn. For me it hasn’t been one experience, it’s a process I go through every day.

What can people expect to learn from your session?

I’d like people to understand that it’s OK to feel a bit of fear. And that you must ask for help - it’s important to ask for help.

Don’t be afraid to fail – people can be so scared of the F word! But know that you can put the learning from that into something else.

Go to your gut. I love that. I’m a big fan of going to your gut – that has served me well.

And be yourself. No matter what you’re doing and who you’re leading and how far you go in your career, you can be yourself - but don’t forget all the people on your journey, those people along the way. Pay it forward. Always pay it forward and look around to see who you can help and support along the way.

Looking to the future - how do you think leadership is changing?

We have to be wary of how we communicate as leaders. We live in a world now where we are working longer and living longer. We are always ‘on’, always connected. We have to remember to be respectful. If you’re talking to someone across a time zone you have to be mindful of how you communicate across different cultures and boundaries.  In a world where we are always on, we have to remember some real basics about how we communicate.  

Also, leadership will be 360 – it’s not just about leadership coming from the top - we can also be led by those around us. Our younger generation is coming through, who want to share their views and thoughts - and leaders should be open to these, and not necessarily have that hierarchical, almost military style of management.

It’s about being a leader and being led.