International Women's Day: Q&A With Diane Douglas

Gabriella Cox
Sector Lead | Business West
8th March 2018

For International Women's Day 2018, we catch up with women in business to celebrate their success and hear how they are progressing with gender parity.

We talk to Diane Douglas, CEO of Vigiles Group, as part of our International Women's Day Q&A series.

Tell us a bit about your business and your role?

Vigiles Group is all about using disruptive technology for good, to make a positive impact. We curate reality technologies like Augmented and video footage into mobile experiences to engage employees and students with learning about serious subjects. Vigiles is still in start up mode, my role is to take the lead on all decision making for short and long term company plans, build relationships, motivate and inspire others to share our vision, values and goals. 

What is a typical working day for you?

At the leader of a start-up, no two days are ever the same. From completing grant applications, facilitating focus groups, to delivering pitches or presentations to community or commercial clients. For International Women’s Day Vigiles are exhibiting at Women in Innovation: Changing Perception, Inspiring Growth – hosted by Innovate UK followed by parliamentary reception at the House of Commons. 

What do you enjoy most about your job?

The Creativity! Einstein said: ‘Creativity is Intelligence having fun’ Starting your own company with an idea of something that really challenges the norm  empowers the art of possibility. It is hard to put into words the roller coaster of being a new business, the nervousness of the validation process when you set out to begin to solve a problem, and the buzz you receive when realizing that your idea could change and potentially save lives. 

What are the most challenging aspects of your job?

Starting a company comes with risk and uncertainty – there is a phase often over-heard in and around accelerator hubs or being quoted by entrepreneurs – get comfortable being uncomfortable. Challenging for me is the unpredictability of events beyond your control or management, and cashflow for the business. New business is incredibly exciting and enables you to grow personally and test you’re ‘A’ game for resilience. Starting a company is not for the feint hearted! 

What are the challenges facing women in business today?

Inevitably for a business to scale and grow quickly it will need substantial rapid sales or investment. In the US only 2% female founded early stage companies achieve investment outside of crowdfunding. 

In a TechCrunch report, 2017 only 17% of startups have female founders and female-founded companies raised just 8% of late-stage rounds. Raising money requires a huge commitment and dedication. It can be challenging commitment when solely responsible for caring for children. Women in business today must be confident with decision making and choose to apply pressure at their own pace for business growth, 

What are 3 key things you think are important to succeed as a woman in business?

Focus, Focus, Focus.

What are the biggest challenges for the future generation of women in business?

I feel confident for the future generation of women in business. My grandmother was one of the first female management engineers in Bristol, whilst growing up her mindset and motivation shaped who I am today. There are many more visible female role models and opportunities for girls AND boys to succeed in career choices irrespective of their gender and choice of profession. One of the greatest challenges for future business women I hope will be the sheer volume of choice and opportunities in which they can thrive. 

What's the best piece of business advice you've ever been given?

Pleasant persistence pays 

Is international trade important to your business? If so, how do you ensure your business has the right skills to successfully trade overseas?

International trade is imperative to Vigiles Group. No longer is it acceptable for ambitious companies to work in silos or without ambition to trade outside of the UK. Thanks to the internet of things and innovation the world feels accessible, knowledge sharing and collaboration across the globe is very achievable. Vigiles are supported by Enterprise Europe Network and the Department for International Trade to help develop our innovation capacity and ensure we are prepared professionally for global growth by helping us to find international partners.

Do you have any tips for women looking to progress their career in leadership roles?

Be prepared to dig deep and learn about your own personality type/style – it may surprise you.  Find great mentors, take opportunities for continuous personal development, ask for feedback and listen. Never underestimate the importance of emotional intelligence, act with integrity and finally  be confident to embrace difficult and uncomfortable situations. 

What women inspire you and why?

There are so many women who inspire me for varied reasons. Penny Brohn: Penny Brohn, was diagnosed with breast cancer, she knew instinctively that she needed more than just care and treatment for her body. The National charity Penny Brohn was established along with the ‘Bristol Approach’ to living well with cancer. Penny for me is an example of an entrepreneur for good, an incredible women who’s legacy and mindset has changed lives, including my own when I was diagnosed with cancer in 2016. 

I am also inspired daily by my daughter’s Ellie 24 and Lucy aged 9. Their resilience, humility creativity, mindset and action to help others and make the world a better place inspires me daily. 

Read more interviews with inspirational business women from our International Women's Day series:

International Women's day: Q&A With Roz Hutchings

International Women's day: Q&A With Lauren Groves

Why did I choose an apprenticeship?

Apprenticeship case study: one year on

#IWD2018 #PressforProgress #BusinessWestWomen




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