Wo+Men’s Leadership Conference 2018

2018 conference

The hugely successful Wo+Men’s Leadership Centre’s annual conference returned to Cambridge Judge Business School on 9 June 2018. This 2018 theme was Growing Talent: Fostering Collective Success. The conference addressed the tools, relationships and mindset behind building and defining, either at a personal or organisational level, a successful career.

The discussion addressed topics of gender equality and evolving workplace dynamics while focusing on how both genders can work together to empower each other to achieve their goals across industries and cultures.

The day comprised a programme of keynote speakers, workshops and panel discussions by outstanding industry leaders and renowned Cambridge academics from an array of sectors as well as myriad networking opportunities.

The Wo+Men’s Leadership Centre

Cambridge Judge established Wo+Men’s Leadership Centre as a way to forge and lead these collaborations and work collectively to learn from each other and make the changes needed to foster a gender-balanced workforce globally. By attending this conference, you can become part of the debate and share your ideas and research to help us shape what gender equality really looks like.

Photos from the 2018 conference

Keynote speaker: Dr Deng YaPing

Highlights from Dr Deng YaPing’s keynote address, ‘From foot-binding to the Olympics’.


Today, I’m quite nervous because, as Jessica mentioned, I graduated from here about 10 years ago, I got my PhD.

But the first time I came in this room in 1998, which is just finished my career, retired from professional athletes. In 1998, I came here, just a language student, but came here to attend the lecture, which is a talk about the Chinese company development.

So in that day, I started to dream if one day I can become student of Cambridge. But at that time, I said to myself, probably no chance at all because I just started to learn English. How can I start to study in Cambridge? So I said to myself, I said, oh, probably not, maybe the next life rather than this life.

But you know, that as a dream still in my mind. So I started working extremely hard. And finally, I got my PhD in 2008.


I the key highlight for me was Deng YaPing, who is an 18 times world champion in ping-pong. And it was her insight that she had gleaned in the course of her PhD studies, in terms of gender balance in sport and particularly, gender balance in sport in China, and how it showed that, in fact, Chinese women are more resilient than the Chinese male athletes. So that was really insightful.


Why say not women are stronger, men are weaker? Is that really true?




Since when I was young, I always tried to make to something different. I wanted to make something to try my best and to achieve my personal goal. I don’t know if it really will be successful or not. But I just wanted to try. So I think one thing, once I’ve done, and I want always pour full attention to, and for all the energy and all the passionate. I think everything, once you have the passionate, all your energy, and the heart working, I think you’ll be very close to success.

All the men here should support, give more opportunity to the ladies. Thank you very much.


Keynote speaker: Joanna Natasegura

Joanna Natasegara, Film Director and Producer, in conversation with Mary Hockaday, BBC World Service English.

[MUSIC PLAYING] Today, I’m going to be sharing my experiences of working in the film industry as a woman and understanding how film and business can work closely together.

In essence, I think you can compare a producer to a CEO in the context of where we’re sitting today and the roles that some of you have or may have in the future. You know, you’re really there to guide the ship and whatever that means. So that means to set strategy. It means to hire the right crew, to do the best work, to make sure that the entire vision of the thing is moving forward.

I particularly appreciated the keynote by Joanna Matasegara, who was very inspiring and made me realise how I really want to have an impact in my life, maybe not as great as she did. But I do want to give some purpose to my life and my career.

And some people may know, but– may not know that the whole issue of the White Helmets is then extremely controversial. And there was a real argument and a campaign, ultimately, of sort of disinformation about, did they really exist in fact, and certainly, who was behind them, and were they, in fact, linked to extreme militants and so on and so forth. I mean, how did you deal with that?


As a producer– you know, you’re the producer. You’re in charge and responsible for the whole enterprise here. How did you deal with that kind of context?

What was interesting was that they said, we get Syria pitches every day. Why is this one different? And the difference, I think, was that it was a positive story about Syria, which was just almost unthinkable, considering the scale of the war at that point. So it’s always interesting to think around the box. So you know, how can you still bring positive examples out of some of the darkest places in the world?

Could you say something about– you’ve said already, you work in a business that is innately collaborative, has to be collaborative, and you bring these teams together, very multi-dimensional, and in a way, multi-channel. What does leadership look like? What sort of leader are you?

Yeah, we talk about the word all the time. And I feel a real responsibility, both to my teams, to the crews, but also to the films because, in some ways, as filmmakers, you’re putting yourselves out there as advocates for those people whose stories– who have been generous enough to share their stories with you, often in very dangerous and difficult circumstances. So I see leadership more than anything as a responsibility to serve, to serve their stories, to serve your teams, and to protect where you can when, actually, all the time, what we’re doing is taking risks.

At the same time, we talk a lot in my team about leadership in both directions, leadership from below and above. I think there needs to be– because film is so collaborative, I think that leadership is 360 within the team.

It’s always challenging being a woman, especially on set, particularly if you’re working in conflict areas where there aren’t as many women. You have particular challenges if you’re working in places like DRC or on the Syrian border. It’s even more dangerous or threatening than it would be for the men. So I can’t say that it’s been straightforward to be a woman in the film industry. But it’s also– there are plenty of opportunities. There are lots of female filmmakers. And that number is growing.