DT: So can we move to Women in Property, which you've been a big part of, down in the South West for a while and I think you're taking over as chair of the full monty in March. Is that right?
RB: (laughs) Is it indeed!
DT: So what is your basic plan for that role? What is your mission? Are you sketching out a kind of goal?
RB: Yes, we’re starting to talk through that. I've been a member since 2006. I qualified as an architect in 2004, so I kind of recognise that even now that there's still 14% of the construction industry represented by females and the drive to support those females gives them the information the knowledge the connections the support across the industry. So through those years it's been a great network for me to do that, learn from one another, build friendships. Actually the CPD and the seminars that they provide. And then also for me it's been about supporting the younger generation and actually ensuring that people know about the industry.
I chaired the South West region in 2017/2018, which was a big ask; it’s the second largest region after the South East. But it's a fantastic network and has given me a lot over the years. I have been asked to step up to the challenge of the national chair role from next March and I’m actually going to take forward things that I did in my regional chair year, so one of the big hashtags for me was ‘stand tall’ and that for me… I'm just about five foot, just about! (laughs)
But it was all about leading and supporting and being able to encourage people to step outside of their comfort zone. And this goes back across the years; about stepping up to panels, and to just say: yes, I'll take that on, and ensure that they know that someone’s got their back, being able to go to people, ask advice and see people actually leading the way. So yeah, I think there will be a lot of that. I think there will be a huge amount obviously, post-Covid. And in March next year I think we will still be in some kind of restriction. Across this year we, as in women in property, have put on over 100 online events…
RB: …So there’s been great support from people and actually it's been brilliant because the fact that you as a member in the South West I can still attend events that are happening in Scotland, in Yorkshire, in Manchester, and actually that opens up a whole variety of opportunities for people to connect into one another, but also learn from different cities, different aspects across the industry. So I think there are parts of that that again will be taken forward. As a member of Women in Property you can access all the events but generally it would mean that you would have to travel to each of those whereas I think the fact that we've all gone online, and we can access all of that very easily has been a great opportunity. And things like our national steering group meetings joined together all of the committees from across the UK, and of course normally we would travel to an office somewhere in the UK. Everyone would travel to meet there. But being on Zoom, it’s provided greater attendance; a greater opportunity and people haven't had to travel very far. So I think there's lots of learnings that people will take from that next year.
DT: So, final question. With all this going on, how on earth are you going to enter Bake Off for next year?
DT: …or is it the year after that that you're now aiming at?
RB: (laughs). Yeah, it happens every year. Everyone says: ‘come on Rachel. Enter. Enter!’ And the deadline was midnight last night and I was sat there thinking: shall I do it? And thinking: how on earth would I fit that in with everything that I'm doing, my potential trip to Malawi next year…
DT: Oh, right? Tell me about that! Sorry, in a minute.
RB: Yeah, so Bake Off is always one of those things that we kind of think: yeah, that would be really nice to do, and I'm sure you have seen on my tweet, everyone is just saying come on Rachel, just do it. No, I'm chocolate brownie champion in my local village…
RB: …And there is a lot of pressure to enter Bake Off and see where that would go, but alongside Women in Property national chair and everything else that I do, it might be a bit of a challenge (laughs). That step too far next year.
DT: So tell me about Malawi very quickly as well.
RB: Yeah, so this was an inspirational talk that I saw from the founding member of Orbis Expedition (https://www.orbis-expeditions.com/womens-partnership-challenge
), Kate Webb, and she just totally inspired me a couple of years ago. I ended up taking this trip – a women's expedition trip to Malawi in 2019 in May and it was extraordinary. It was taking all of the aspects that I enjoy through supporting women in business, an adventure up a mountain, and also working with a secondary school on STEM activities and helping them with CV workshops and all of that, but combine that all travelling to Malawi which is the warm heart of Africa. And it was extraordinary. So much so that we've been running lots of workshops over the last 6 to 8 weeks with those businesswomen in Malawi on just sharing business skills. And as much as it's us helping them, they are extraordinary women and so there is a huge amount that we can learn from what they are dealing with, and also what type of businesses, and how they exist. So there was a lot there that we can learn from one another. I'm hoping, fingers crossed, that we can get out there again next year and that will be another women's expedition throwing in lots of adventure and excitement, in an extraordinary place.
DT: Well, so you've got a really packed year ahead of you! So: good luck with it all, and happy Christmas as well! I'm sure your cake will be better than all of ours!
RB: It’s currently feeding, or being fed, so absolutely! I’ve got to ice it yet!
DT: Wow, right you really are on the case! Okay, magic. Lovely to speak to you, Rachel, and see you soon. Bye.
RB: Thanks, David. Cheers. Bye!