A cup of tea with…Hilarie Owen

Hilarie Owen, a former political scientist, founded the Institute of Leadership in 2000. She has recently launched RENEW, the register of executive and non-executive women.

What is the purpose of RENEW?
Report after report highlights the low number of women on UK boards. The register has been launched to support the development and appointment of female non-executive and executive directors. We’re keen to make companies realise that the right non-executive or executive director can bring competence, skills and experience to a board, strengthening overall company performance.

How will it work?
It will generate a pool of women capable of holding board positions in the public and private sectors. We are aiming to encourage women to put themselves forward and also to encourage companies to actively consider and appoint women to these key roles. We’ll provide a network of like-minded professionals.

What advantages can women bring to boards?
A lot of people get to board level by being good managers, but not good leaders. They tend to be risk-averse and play it safe. A lot of people at board level say that women don’t have the right experience. I felt that what women could offer boards is a fresh perspective and leadership style that is better for change. There is a belief held by lots of people on boards that it just needs time and women will get there. But this is a misconception – if you look at the pace of change, it would take forever.

And on the leadership side?
One thing that women tend to bring is transformational leadership. This means they have the ability to identify their own values, and those of others in the organisation, to guide their actions. Women also tend to be better motivators. It was interesting to see that it was a woman who blew the whistle at Enron – she now runs her own business. We are just as capable as men are of being strategic and taking risks.

Marc Barber

Marc Barber

Marc was editor of GrowthBusiness from 2006 to 2010. He specialised in writing about entrepreneurs, private equity and venture capital, mid-market M&A, small caps and high-growth businesses.

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Women In Business