International Women's Day 2021 - "I have always been determined that it is possible to succeed without losing integrity, and operating with kindness" - Robyn Kohler, Aspire Sussex CEO

International Women’s Day 2021

For International Women’s Day 2021 the theme is #ChoosetoChallenge. We can all choose to seek out and celebrate women’s achievements. Collectively, we can all help create an inclusive world. For this International Women’s Day we interviewed Robyn Kohler, CEO of Aspire Sussex to celebrate her lifetime of achievements.

“I have been asked to write something today about International Women’s Day, and to embrace the #choosetochallenge.

I am in fact quite proud and privileged to be asked to do something like this, as for all of my working life, success has always taken me by surprise. I put success down to doing what I believe in, really believing in what I’m doing, and having the courage of my convictions to carry something through.

The other essential ingredient is ensuring that I have a good team around me who respect and value each other’s similarities and differences, and take the opportunity to promote each other’s success as much as their own.

I’m fortunate to have attended an international girl’s school- in a school of 300 we had 200 different nationalities, and our ages ranged from 4 to 21. Difference has been celebrated throughout my life and I am lucky that this has been my norm. It therefore sits with everyone to ensure that we are working towards it being a norm for us all.

At my first job interview after university I was turned down- I was told I was too nice to do the job….

It brings out a level of determination in you, that’s for sure! I have always been determined that it is possible to succeed without losing integrity, and operating with kindness.

I went for another identical job-I was appointed – and by the time I left work to have my daughters I was 150% of my target…Apparently being nice is not a bad attribute to have and should never hold us back. I guess the trick is to take up the challenge, speak up when things don’t look right, and embrace change.

Now, some 35 years later, I am lucky to be working in an organisation where I can give something back to communities, and in a way, to colleagues too. We include this way of working in our behaviours and values.

In the week of International Women’s’ Day, take risks, believe in yourself and take the opportunity to celebrate your own and others’ success.

And remember, however quiet and unassuming you may be, you have every right to have an opinion.”