Network welcomes new president

news: Network welcomes new president

NETWORK, the association of working and businesswomen, recently said goodbye to Verna Kinder as president and welcomed Linda Smith to the post.

Having spent 12 years within Network, Linda has seen presidents come and go, witnessed changes and welcomed new members. “The association has changed since the early days. Back then, only business owners were members.” Linda said. “When I was asked to join by the original founder, Deirdre O’Flynn, I was among the first employee members. However, we now have employers and employees exchanging thoughts and learning from each other.”

Network stages monthly meetings to give its members the chance to meet like-minded businesswomen. “Seeing all the women benefiting from each other’s knowledge, hearing new ideas and making new contacts is what the association is all about,” she added.

Her rise to president was quite last minute. As a vice president to Verna, she knew about the workings of Network. “When I learnt that Verna was leaving, the idea about becoming president had occurred to me, but something I could maybe consider in the future.” However, when Nicki Medlock, who was going to fill Verna’s shoes, was unable to take the post at the eleventh hour, Linda stepped up to the challenge. “It just seemed the right thing to do. The fear went and I found myself as President,” Linda laughed.

Verna was ground-breaking as she tackled new areas and polished established ones. This has made Linda’s job easier. “On the day of the hand over, she gave me a CD containing all the information I would need and, at a time of change, it’s always nice to have a large part of the confusion cleared. I cannot thank Verna enough, and I am pleased and honoured to follow in her footsteps. I hope to keep the bold initiatives and innovative steps of hers going.”

Linda believes that Network’s original values to support businesswomen throughout Portugal are still key to the organisation. Over time, these values have become more polished and professional as each president has offered a different focus, bringing new styles, attitudes and ideas to the post. And Linda is no different.

So what can we expect from the new Network president? Linda hopes to bring the international organisation of Network back home. “I believe that it is important to embrace the country we live in. I would like to establish closer links with the businesswomen of Portugal. Even though many already have their own networks of support, through family ties and friends they have grown up with, I would love to entice them to become members or even to have them as guest speakers. It would be great to get a Portuguese link set up.”

She continued: “Another idea that I would like to see come to fruition is for us to take a more prominent role in local government, maybe getting more women to vote in the local elections and really try to give something back to the country that we now call home.” But before Linda can start to develop a plan, she wants to get feedback from members: “Many of the best initiatives come from a collective strength, not just one individual’s thoughts. I would like to see Network grow within its limitations; I don’t want to stretch it further than it wants to go.

“I believe that members always enjoy and benefit from the meetings, seminars and training weekends, taking a new focus, motivation or angle away with them. Most of the women have to give 110 per cent to their business, but it is important for them to take time out and come to the meetings, even if it is only to give them an afternoon off,” she said.

“They can recharge their batteries and remind themselves of the support that is all around them. The key to my presidency is to embrace the future, but also take the legacy of the past.” Louise Pimm