Helen Walbey is the founder of Recycle Scooters and the only woman in Wales to own a motorcycle salvage company. She is also the National Policy Chair for Health & Diversity at Federation for Small Business’s and the Chair of Welsh Government Panel for Women’s Enterprise.
Helen tells us about the difficulties of being a female in the male dominated industry she works within and how networking has opened her eyes to the power of a supportive network of other women.
Who is your inspiration and why?
My grandmother, she was very poor, struggled looking after elederly and ill family members whilst working and raising a family. She was determined, positive and never one to be pushed around. She inspired me to follow my dreams and stand up for myself.
What does success in life look like to you?
A clear to do list at the end of the day and good enough time management that when I am not “in” work then work does not follow me into my downtime.
Are there still taboos around subjects related to women that you feel need to be broken or need greater awareness?
Yes, the menopause, child loss and supporting all women to make equality intersectional. So everyone gets a fair share of the pie.
What do you feel will be the biggest challenge for the generation of women behind you?
Navigating social media and the rise of automation in the workplace. Along with all the issues that have still not been resolved in the last 100 years!
Have there been occasions in your life where you felt that being a woman held you back, and occasions where it has propelled you?
Just being female in my industry is a challenge, it is still so very male dominated and many of the men in the industry have very traditional views that can be quite difficult to deal with. In regard to networking being a woman has helped I do not compete I collaborate and I have found so many other women who operate in the same manner. Networking has really opened my eyes to the power of a supportive network of other women.
What is the best piece of advice you have ever been given and why?
Don’t give up and never be too proud to ask for help.
If you had to start over, knowing what you know now, what if anything, would you do differently?
Get a great team around me as early as possible. That does not mean paid staff but just a team of supporters.
What would you say is one of the biggest advances in your industry or sector over the past five years? On the reverse, is there any aspect of your sector you feel is still not progressive enough when it comes to women?
My industry has a huge amount still to do and that includes in the area if race, LGBT+ rights and supporting those with disabilities. There is a vast amount of work still to do but I suppose I can celebrate the demise of the nude calendars that I used to see everywhere.
How do feel about International Woman’s Day?
It is still needed, it is still important, and it is still vital that until girls and women across the globe get the same chances as boys and men that we all keep pushing. Men are a vital part of this too and can be incredible and powerful allies.
Looking at the future, what do you feel the young women of today can be most excited about?
The power that have to make a difference. Social media changes things so much faster than traditional methods used to. Just one person can start a global movement and that can shape the world. Never underestimate the power of one.