In celebration of International Women’s Day, we sat down with East Lancashire Chamber of Commerce CEO Miranda Barker, a remarkable leader who has been instrumental in pathing success for local businesses.
Miranda spent her formative years in Ilkley and received her education at Mount School, York. She has enjoyed a commendable career, owning and running an environmental consulting SME for fifteen years, followed by a directorship at a Plc for four years. She has gained extensive experience working with a diverse range of industries, including energy, manufacturing, engineering, chemicals, pharmaceuticals, and FMCG, both locally and internationally.
Miranda has held significant leadership roles within the business community, serving as President of the Wigan Chamber for a decade and as Chair of the Wigan Economic Partnership before relocating to East Lancashire to join the Chamber. Since April 2017, she has been the Chief Executive Officer of the Chamber, leading it to great success.
In addition to her Chamber role, Miranda also sits at board level on the Lancashire Enterprise Partnership (LEP) as well as leading RedCAT, a start-up business support initiative for businesses taking ‘green’ innovations to market scale.
Join us as we delve into a thought-provoking and inspiring conversation with a leader who is paving the way for women everywhere.
- Why do you think it is important to celebrate International Women’s Day?
“We’re lucky here in the UK. There are so many wonderful examples and so few barriers in the way of us achieving the same as anyone else, but this is International Women’s Day and so we should be looking further afield and seeing how we can help remove barriers elsewhere towards acceptance of women in leading roles and practices.”
- How did you get to where you are now?
“I was raised by a single mum and went to an all-girls boarding school. I was raised in an environment where it was assumed women could do anything they wanted, whether that be a Rocket Scientist, Brain Surgeon, or Politician. I was given that confidence and belief you could do anything you chose to with the support structure to do that.”
- Have you faced any barriers in your career due to being a woman? If so, how did you overcome them?
“Interestingly, I have never perceived any barriers. I have never encountered any barriers in terms of studying where I wanted to study, getting the jobs I wanted to get. I never felt there was an extra barrier because I was female. I think that’s an important thing in terms of when we’re talking to our children, especially here in the UK that we don’t give them a feeling that there is an incapacitating thing from being a female. There isn’t in the UK, but then we do need to look further afield to where there are barriers and to help women in those situations feel that they have the capability and the competence and then help them to remove the barriers that most certainly exist elsewhere.”
- Which women inspire you the most?
“I think more than inspire, it’s who gives you the impression that you could do whatever you wanted. It’s back to that looking around and seeing examples, so when I was growing up you had Maggie Thatcher as Prime Minister, Betty Boothroyd as speaker at the house of commons. You saw people around you just doing their job. Doing their job in the same natural way as anyone else and I think that’s the best thing that you can do, and you can see.”
- The theme of this year’s International Women’s Day is ‘DigitALL: Innovation and technology for gender equality’ what does that mean to you?
“For me, it’s about removing those barriers. So, if you’re someone who across the world is geographically, practically or culturally disadvantaged or disadvantaged by constraints of certain societies where you can’t be physically as visible as you can elsewhere in the world, then through digital hopefully, that’s another way of overcoming those barriers and providing equality of platform for people to be heard and get support for their ideas and their thoughts.”
- How can we encourage more women to pursue entrepreneurship or senior leadership roles in their career?
“Give everyone the belief that they can succeed. There is no lack of capability because you’re male or female. You can achieve everything you want to achieve. You are mentally and physically capable of that. There is no difference. And then we must work to make sure barriers are removed where there are barriers.”
- If you could have dinner with three inspirational women, who would they be and why?
“Maggie Thatcher, Betty Boothroyd and maybe Queen Elizabeth the 1st or 2nd because they both uncompromisingly did the best job they could, no matter what sex they were. They were leading and they did that in the best way they could.”
Miranda Barker is an exemplary leader who has demonstrated that with hard work and determination, women can succeed in any industry, and there are no limits to what they can achieve. Her upbringing instilled in her the belief that women can do anything they choose to with the right support structure, and she has carried this message with her throughout her career.
On this International Women’s Day, Miranda’s story reminds us of the importance of celebrating the achievements of women, while also working to remove the barriers that still exist around the world.
For more news, click here.