Tonight I attended the inaugural #300SecondsIreland #Belfast meet up sponsored by Novosco at their super offices down at Queens Road – they even have a gym onsite with regular classes and sessions for staff to attend. Sure that is normal in SF but in Belfast? #noexcuses. 300SecondsIreland is the brain child of Mary Mc Kenna and Clare McGee. Mary Opened the event which describes the movement as

“ a series of talks by and for the digital community. We believe that digital is better when we can learn from the brilliance of the many, not just the few. With our events we hope to give our peers, and in particular women, a means of gaining confidence and experience in speaking in public.”

“The under-representation of women at technology and digital conferences is a well-documented phenomenon. There are many reasons for it, but two of the most common we hear are that women lack confidence in speaking, and that conference organisers tend to ask those who’ve spoken at other events, meaning we often hear from the same people.”

Any meet-up that focuses on giving access to networks and opportunities for women gets my vote especially in the tech / digital sectors.

There is clear alignment to their mission with some words from CEO of Novosco Patrick McAliskey, and why they are keen to increase their 20% of female representation in their own company by reaching out to support networks that empower and give access to women who want to work for an organisation that focuses on helping their employees get better every day in life, not just work.

As Moment Health‘s next big focus is all about offering employers the opportunity to invest in their staff well being presenting opportunities for them ( new and expectant mums and parents) to detect signs and symptoms of pre and post natal depression and associated anxieties, this is an organisation investing in the wellbeing of their staff it is so refreshing to hear these words communicated in such an authentic way from an ultimately visionary leader “happy people mean happy customers” which ultimately is good for business. Its amazing what we can fit into 5 minutes and the speakers all did a great job. First up was Claire MacManus of the Northern Ireland Housing Executive talking how “STEM Cells, and how they can grow an economy” a first time speaking slot for Claire she sends us off with this message;

“ Be a leader, Be a coach, Be a mentor, Be a barefoot volunteer”

Second was Orla McGreevy, a “Global Shaper” in the city 5pm – 9pm sings the Belfast song far and wide. Talked innovation, entrepreneurship and pushing boundaries but above all that Belfast should be

“standing tall as head and shoulders” above their European city counterparts.

Third Up was Patricia McVeigh – who took us on her brutally honest journey of finding her sparkle again, reclaiming the roads by foot and reversing her type 2 diabetes. For me what stood out about Patricia was her sparkle, she had happy eyes and most of all she said something that most entrepreneurs should listen to also,

“enjoy the journey and celebrate the wins along the way”.

The penultimate speaker blew me away – Jennifer Elliot, a technical services analyst for Novosco or as she likes to call herself the “computers agony aunt”.

From Prawns, to tarmac, clamping, Running out of petrol, her hacks to live through autism in her 40’s. Using humour to tell some pretty shocking stories of working pre diagnosis of autism followed by her matter of fact approach to life. She finished on how it was having cancer and going through treatment that she had found to be one of the most grateful things she has experienced because of the kindness she has received throughout that journey. More an ”Enlightening talk” than a lightening one. Sending us off with a final thought

“nothing is too difficult to overcome….oh and don’t walk in wet tarmac”

Last but not least we had Martin Gilchrist, a Belfast based accountant and regular on the speaking scene in Belfast and usually the first to ask a question come Q&A. With a focus of personal brand and its importance he shared his top tips for social and event networking, paying it forward and what it feels like to be the minority in the room ( that last one was my question ;-)).

Bravo to all involved – so glad I came out this evening to listen to some great story telling and be part of the Belfast kick off of #300SecondsIreland, I look forward to supporting this worthy iniatitive in whichever way I can in the future.

Nuala #makeitmainstream

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