International Women’s Day: Meet West Lindsey’s ‘Fabulous Five’

Today (March 8) marks International Women’s Day, which celebrates the achievements of women across the globe.

The West Lindsey 'Fabulous Five' EMN-220803-063702001
The West Lindsey 'Fabulous Five' EMN-220803-063702001

At West Lindsey District Council, there is a diverse mix of staff and five out seven on the management team are women.

Sally Grindrod-Smith, Tracey Bircumshaw, Nova Roberts, Di Krochmal and Emma Redwood – each play a leading role at the Council.

The powerhouse of women all have their own specialist areas of work and lead a number of teams across the authority.

The West Lindsey management team EMN-220803-063713001

Sally Grindrod Smith, Assistant Director of Planning and Regeneration at the Council, has spent the last two years leading the Covid 19 business support response and driving plans for regeneration, recovery and growth. This includes the ongoing delivery of our development management and strategic planning functions and securing investment for transformational projects across the district.

She said: “International Women’s Day 2022 marks a moment in time where after almost two years of being apart from our colleagues we can come together and reflect on the strength and support shown for each other through this challenging time.

“But perhaps more importantly we can look forward, and for West Lindsey, I believe that future is one where we celebrate equality and diversity across our teams, whilst recognising that we have a unique, strong, supportive and ambitious group of female leaders that I know I am fortunate to work alongside.”

This year’s theme for international women’s day is about raising awareness of gender equality.

Tracey Bircumshaw, Assistant Director for Finance Business Support and Property Services (S151), said: “I have never felt that because I am a woman I have something to prove. I have always felt equal here at West Lindsey. From the first time I walked in the building, I was made to feel part of Team West Lindsey.

“We are only a small organisation, but everyone genuinely cares and we want to ensure West Lindsey is a supportive place for people to work.”

Her advice to women looking to build a career is to ‘always believe in yourself’.

She added: “Sometimes you need to say ‘you are alright as you are’. You should play to your strengths. You maybe need to be ‘thick skinned’ but don’t think you can’t do it, because when you put your mind to something mostly you can achieve it.”

Di Krochmal, Assistant Director or Homes and Wellbeing at the Council said the key to a successful team is about supporting each other.

She said: “I know today recognises International Women’s Day but I was recently told by a colleague that our Management Team, which includes Ady Selby and our chief executive Ian Knowles, has a ‘collective strength’ which is solid. We all come together really well; we are quite relaxed and laughter brings us closer together.

“We each have our own strengths and whilst we are all very different, we complement and support each other.

“I personally am quite reflective and mindfulness for me is something I am very passionate about and I try and bring this in to my working environment where possible.”

Nova Roberts, Assistant Director for Regulatory and Change Management, said ‘gender bias’ doesn’t come into working at West Lindsey.

She said: “We lead by example and we are very authentic with each other.

“We don’t just say it, we live it and we support each other, whether that is quietly, physically or helping someone to overcome a challenge.”

Nova explained that West Lindsey has a unique way of collaborating and gives people a real sense of belonging to the team.

She added: “Our team’s success is working together and realising our strengths, our values and our beliefs. That is not just happening at a management team level, but in all our portfolios and across the Council.

“Our management team is the custodian of West Lindsey and together we are here to do the best we can and leave the organisation in the best position for future generations to take over.

“No matter what gender you are – you should always have the same opportunities to do the same job and I would always encourage people to challenge that if it is not happening.”

Emma Redwood, Assistant Director of People and Democratic Services, said she is proud to be supporting International Women’s Day.

She said: “I think we can all agree that the past two years has been challenging for everyone, but I am incredibly proud of the way our whole organisation regardless of gender have pulled together to support our communities.

“We are not competitors – but we all strive for the same outcomes and that is achieved through our collaborative and supportive work environment which embodies a fabulous ‘team spirit’.”

Ady Selby, Assistant Director of Commercial and Operational Services, who makes up the sixth director in the team, is proud to be working along such a strong team of female colleagues.

He said: “We are probably bucking the trend at West Lindsey with the majority of Management Team being women. I have strong professional relationships with everyone on the team and what is great is that we talk about things other than work too.

“For me, it matters not whether its men or women who make up the team, more that it is people who demonstrate positive skills and behaviours and I am pleased to see that is the case here at West Lindsey District Council.”

In the theme of this year’s International Women’s Day, the West Lindsey team would like to encourage the younger generation - their message is: “You should always believe in yourself and have the courage to successful, no matter your gender.”