HELPING women to say ‘I can’ instead of ‘I might’ or ‘maybe’ is going to be the focus of Cork woman Helen Wycherley’s year as 2019 President of Network Ireland.
Director at the Celtic Ross Hotel in Rosscarbery, and the Marina Commercial Park in Cork city — both family businesses — and a qualified chartered accountant, she says she wants to help women “fulfil their potential by empowering them to step up and do more”.
The busy mum of three acknowledges that everyone has commitments in their personal and professional lives that may make them hang back.
“But due to the structure and make-up of Network Ireland, I believe we are ideally placed to encourage women to put themselves forward more and to set more ambitious targets. This year is about helping women to be ready to seize opportunities as they arise, to be confident and go for that promotion, apply for that grant application, go on State boards or take more risks,” she said.
Helen attended second level in the Convent of Mercy Kinsale and has a bachelor of Business and Legal Studies from UCD. She qualified as a Chartered Accountant with Ernst & Young in 2007.
She joined Network Ireland Cork branch in 2009, after she moved home from Dublin to join the family business.
“I needed to develop my own network in Cork so I chose Network Ireland Cork branch. I joined the committee of the Cork branch in 2010. I was secretary, Vice President and then President in 2015. I was secretary of Network Ireland nationally and then Vice President.
“We have three years succession planning in place in Network Ireland so I put myself forward at our AGM in January, 2017, for the presidency in 2019 and was voted in!” She admits it’s something she thought about and aspired to for a long time.
“There are 15 on the national executive committee and we work together to grow and develop the organisation. There are 15 branches around the country who run monthly events for their members which further the personal and professional development of women. I will liaise with stakeholders, partners, sponsors, and public and private bodies.
“Along with the national executive committee I will host and organise two key events: International Women’s Day lunch on March 8 in Thomond Park Stadium, Limerick, and National Conference and Business Awards on September 27 in Celtic Ross Hotel, Rosscarbery,” she said.
Her children are: Liam, 4, Laura, who will be 3 in March and Kate who is 1 in February, and she says she’s juggling like everyone else.
“I am not unique. I try the best I can. I have great support from family and work. And within the National Executive Committee I have fantastic team of women all willing and able to help.”
She cites equal pay and child care costs as particular barriers and challenges facing women.
“I think we have a long way to go for equal pay for equal work. It is critical. It is up to us to keep getting the message out there and also to ask for the right pay for our job.
“Yes, childcare costs are very high. I don’t have a solution for this unfortunately. I have three children in full time crèche, they love it and I wouldn’t change it. The staff are fantastic and work so hard and are incredibly patient!
“I can relate to the pressures of how a family manages with two working parents and managing childcare.
“Flexible working is definitely key to ensuring women, and all parents, have the comfort that they can get the job done while also taking care of our future generation. It is important for employers to embrace flexible working.”
Network Ireland branches, she said, offer the support and advice women can lean on to get through whatever challenges they face in their lives.
“There will always be a member who has had similar experiencea and we have a huge network of women with expertise who can help advise over a quick chat at an event.”
MORE ABOUT NETWORK IRELAND
Established in 1983, Network Ireland now has almost 1,200 members across 15 branches around Ireland. Each year they organise up to 200 events for members. They also run a number of flagship national events, including an International Women’s Day Celebration and the Annual Conference and Business Awards. For more see www.networkireland.ie