This week Pro Landscaper will be celebrating IWD by showcasing some of the brilliant women who form the backbone of Eljays44.
Kickstarting our week of celebrations is co-founder of Eljays44, Lisa Wilkinson. Lisa’s career started in publishing and she had always dreamed of owning her own media business.
What does IWD mean to you?
I believe that anyone can achieve what they want through dedication and hard work – however I am aware that women have had to fight for equal rights. I wouldn’t like it if I weren’t able to vote for who I want to lead our country so I’m very grateful that women put their lives on the line so I can choose. It’s great that women can attain the highest positions in industry today and I take my hat off to them!
How did you get to where you are in your career?
I’m extremely lucky to have a very ambitious family behind me who have believed in what we could jointly achieve. Once we decided to launch Eljays44 we all put in an enormous effort to make it work – Jim and I put everything we had into the business and to a certain extent we still live and breathe it today. If I’m honest I wouldn’t have it any other way.
What’s your career highlight?
There have been so many! Each time we have made a success of a magazine launch or event I marvel at how it all comes together. I feel privileged to have been invited to Buckingham Palace for the Golden Jubilee Celebrations, and a tour with the Ravenmaster at the Tower of London. Of course Press Day at RHS Chelsea every year is a big highlight for me.
What’s the most important piece of advice you’d give to a woman at the very start of her career?
I’d say try and choose something you really enjoy or have an affinity with and try and build it into your career. If you enjoy what you do it really doesn’t feel like work!
For IWD, what do you think is the biggest issue today facing women in management roles?
I haven’t yet experienced any adverse reactions in what I do, but I guess there are still a small minority of men that believe their sex should have the top roles in business.
How important is it for women to lift each other up and what does this mean to you?
I think acknowledgement and encouragement is always appreciated. Although our particular industry has fewer women in top roles, all of those that I know (at any level) are totally dedicated to their profession. I’d like to see more women throughout the landscape and horticulture industry as it offers so many benefits.
Which woman inspires you most and why?
I always use The Queen as the biggest role model for women – a person who has dedicated her life to her job, is always dignified and has run our country longer than anyone else in British history (69 years and still going strong – what a lady!)
What barriers have you faced, as a woman in becoming successful in your field & how did you overcome them?
I haven’t really faced any huge barriers since we started our own business, one brilliant thing about working with family is that we are all very aware of each other’s strengths and weaknesses, and these have helped shape our roles over the 10 years we have worked together making sure we all get the best out of ourselves and each other. We have also built an amazing core team around us, and I might add that several of these are also great women!
Finally, we know that work isn’t your whole life! So, what are your hobbies outside of work?
There are lots of things that I enjoy outside of work, I have 5 grandchildren aged 5 and under who bring me joy every day (even though the restrictions over the last year have been difficult at times). Jim and I are keen renovators and we are on our third big home project. Of course gardening is a big love and as we now have a substantial garden this takes up a lot of our free time. We have also become keen ramblers, and living between countryside and sea we love exploring our surroundings.
Tomorrow’s IWD post will see us speak with Nina Mason, head of content at Eljays44. Check back here at 5pm.