UPDATE: Speaker views

Business must do more to tap immense potential of female entrepreneurs, says finance boss

Businesses are still failing to tap the full potential of female talent to drive economic growth, according to former Avon boss and current CEO of Grameen America, Andrea Jung.

Andrea Jung, who spoke recently at Saïd Business School, as part of its Responsible Leadership Seminar series, is committed to furthering female entrepreneurship at Grameen America, originally a Bangladeshi bank which expanded into the US in 2008. Grameen has since helped more than 75,000 women living below the poverty line to start their own businesses with loans as small as US$1,500.

Speaking at the seminar in May, she said: ‘Certain industries – law, financial services – still have a way to go, but I'm seeing a lot of male-dominated industries really shifting, particularly in the last five years. While there may not be women in the top job, if you look at my generation, if you got a job at the top, it was PR, HR; you never got to be the CFO. It's not a shattered glass ceiling, but there are some cracks.’

Jung argues that the financial imperative for companies to act is strong: ‘There is a growing body of evidence that proves women’s entrepreneurship is an accelerator for global economic growth,’ she says. ‘There is immense, untapped economic potential in promoting women from wage earners to job creators.’

While Jung acknowledges that there is still a long way to go, and progress on closing the gender pay gap in particular has been slow, she remains optimistic. ‘Every organisation has a critical role to play in ensuring women are represented at all levels. When I became the first female CEO of Avon in 1999, I was one of only three women CEOs in the Fortune 500. Today, that number has risen to 22.’

Other practical steps must be taken to foster women’s advancement, Jung suggests. ‘There are meaningful actions that we, as a society, should take,’ she says, ‘from addressing pay disparities to supporting families, we need to do more to support women in the workplace.’

‘There is a growing body of evidence that proves women’s entrepreneurship is an accelerator for global economic growth... There is immense, untapped economic potential in promoting women from wage earners to job creators’

Business schools can also help by setting up mentorship programmes and offering scholarships. She adds: ‘I am always impressed by the commitment of today’s top business schools, like Saïd Business School, to create a diverse and inclusive business future. With programmes like these, I am confident that the progress we have made will continue well into the next generation and beyond.’

Old media failing Snapchat generation,’ says advertising guru

Traditional media outlets are stuck in a ‘time warp’ and failing to meet the demands of the ‘Snapchat generation’, advertising stalwart Sir Martin Sorrell warned in a talk at Saïd Business School.

The event entitled News after advertising, took place in May against a backdrop of grim headlines for the sector. That day saw 13% wiped from the Daily Mail publisher’s share price. The Telegraph Group was cutting costs. Even Buzzfeed missed its targets in 2015 and cut its 2016 forecast by half, while Mashable announced staff layoffs.

Sir Martin, the CEO of global giant WPP, which buys US$73bn of advertising each year for clients, argued that the legacy media fundamentally misunderstood the needs of the Facebook and Snapchat generation. ‘They believe they are not interested in news – wrong. They are really interested in news, but they are interested in it being presented in a totally different way.’ He pointed to Vice Media as one of the only publishers that ‘got it’.

In a panel discussion, Alan Rusbridger, former Editor of The Guardian, asked Simon Fox, CEO of Trinity Mirror, if he had been over-optimistic in launching the first daily newspaper for 30 years, The New Day, which was scrapped after just eight weeks. Fox said it was important to innovate even if it meant having to ‘fail fast’ and insisted that advertising revenue would continue to follow relevant content.

Channel 4 CEO David Abraham championed the public service role of investigative journalism. He hit back at Sir Martin’s plaudits for Vice Media, claiming that over the previous 90 days, Channel 4 News had generated 275m views of the videos it tailored specifically to its Facebook audience, while he said Vice had only generated 27m.

Contrary to Sir Martin’s earlier arguments, he said the majority of Channel 4’s views had been for a minute or more, and not just three seconds without sound.

Entrepreneurship Forum students pitch to angels

Oxford Saïd Business School has launched an annual one-day event giving students and alumni the chance to network with leading entrepreneurs and innovators and seek advice on pursuing start-up ideas or developing an entrepreneurial mindset.

The inaugural Oxford Saïd Entrepreneurship Forum took place in June and followed on from the previous Silicon Valley Comes to Oxford event, which ran for 14 years.This year’s speakers included Biz Stone, co-founder of Twitter and Jelly; Phil Libin, Executive Chairman of Evernote and Managing Director of General Catalyst; Cameron Stevens, co-founder and CEO of Prodigy Finance; Mary McKenna, entrepreneur and angel investor; Torsten Reil, co-founder and CEO of NaturalMotion; and Damien Steel, Managing Director, OMERS Ventures.

They delivered masterclasses on how to start and scale a business, including specific themes such as entrepreneurial finance, building networks and relationships. The forum concluded with a pitching event, where selected student teams showcased their ideas to an audience of invited guests, including venture capital firms and angel investors.

Claire Joubert, Programme Manager at the Entrepreneurship Centre, said: ‘During the forum, students and alumni get the opportunity, through a series of masterclasses and workshops, to really learn from and network with established entrepreneurs, investors and other practitioners.’ After the event, Tooki Graham, MBA student for 2016/17, who attended the forum, said: ‘The most inspiring speaker that I listened to was Phil Libin from Evernote, particularly his masterclass in Big Bold Decision-Making. As someone who runs their own company you can get a little paralysed by making those decisions.’ Meanwhile, Hussein Sharif, co-founder of Crcles and MBA student from the class of 2015/16, found co-founder and CTO at Jelly Ben Finkel’s masterclass on the Art of Storytelling particularly helpful.

He said: ‘His communication of taking Fluther, a company he started, and selling it to Twitter by way of storytelling was really interesting because it impacted the way that I now communicate my business to other people.’