Celebrating Women In Business, With Katie Matthews
As part of international Women’s Day we are celebrating Women in Business and the challenges they face within their careers.
Katie is the founder of the multi-award winning tuition service Excel In Education Business Tutoring School. Alongside her tutoring school, Katie also founded The Mind Tribe. This business provides workshops and information on improving well-being and mental health amongst children, young people & adults across Northern Ireland & the wider UK.
What challenges have you faced as a female within your industry?
The main challenge I faced was not actually being female, it was my age when I first started out on this road of entrepreneurship. I was 23 years old when I founded my first company and am currently 29, so have been within the entrepreneurship space for almost 6 years. In that time, I have had many people doubt my skills, knowledge, ability and experience based on the presumption that my age somehow reflected my ability to fulfil the task or job effectively. However, I also have to note that there were many more individuals who were extremely supportive, could see my potential and afforded me with exceptional opportunities.
There were some occasions where it was assumed that I was someone’s staff member or secretary at business events, or if attending with my partner they would address him first and assume he was the business owner. The startled expressions on their faces when they found out I was the entrepreneur and business owner, certainly made me chuckle, but demonstrated that we still have a long way to go in terms of preconceived assumptions and opinions we form of people, due to gender, race, age etc. I view challenge as an opportunity, to learn, grow and develop, and these experiences have made me more resilient, determined, knowledgeable and committed to supporting other female and young entrepreneurs across Northern Ireland.
Who is your female role-model and why?
I literally have so many female role models and people that I take inspiration from. In terms of women that I know personally, I would have to say Tina McKenzie. She is an exceptional business woman, intelligent, dynamic, personable, kind, honest, dedicated, witty and wise. She is a shining example of a strong, resilient and committed leader, who truly cares about improving the lives of others through all her work, and I have learnt so much from Tina over the last six years in business. Tina was one of the reasons why I delved into entrepreneurship in the first place, and she continues to be a beacon of inspiration to me and many others, regardless of gender.
What advice would you give to the younger female generation and what can they do to make a difference?
Don’t wait for opportunities – go out and seek them, seize them and if they don’t exist, create them! Your life is your own and you can choose what you decide to do with it. Carve out your own path, follow your passions, surround yourself with exceptional people and believe in yourself. You are capable of amazing things, you have potential, you have gifts, talents, skills and knowledge to offer this world, so share them! Let your light shine, work hard, remain focused, support others and lift them with you as you rise, and be grateful for the people who have supported you. You might say “Well, why me?”, but I would ask “Why not you?”. If there is a change you want to see in the world, a project or organisation you want to run or a goal you want to achieve, go for it! Take the steps necessary to make it happen, ask for help when you need it, look after your mental health and remain true to who you are.