Shelley Kerr comment: Adopting the team approach

As a woman who has developed a career what has been a traditionally male domain, I am delighted to be addressing a business audience at this year’s Investing Women conference in Edinburgh tomorrow. While barriers that limit women’s success in business as well as football remain in place, the prospects continue to improve.

Shelley Kerr is the manager of the Scottish womens football squad. Picture: John Devlin
Shelley Kerr is the manager of the Scottish womens football squad. Picture: John Devlin

Among the abiding memories of my first international cap for Scotland women’s squad in 1989 (aside from the 3-0 score line to our opponents England), was the fact all the players had to pay a £50 supplement for travel costs to represent their nation. We also had to share kit so when I warmed up prior to making my big debut I did so wearing just the top half of a track suit. I’m pleased to things have move on significantly since then and with the Scottish women’s team qualifying for this summer’s World Cup we look forward to building on that progress.

Women are also making great strides forward in business but still have challenges to overcome. My own experience in the workplace began as a 16-year-old school leaver working at Mitsubishi’s former factory in West Lothian where I ended up being responsible for running three of its production lines. The important lessons I took from those 17 years have been regularly applied in my role as a football manager as the mechanics of finding success on the pitch or in a business are much the same in my view.

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The key issue for me, and one I will be sharing with the aspiring female business founders at the Investing Women conference, is that getting the right support around you is essential to success. Great management only happens if you have the right support staff to help you deliver your vision. Sharing that vision with your people is essential as is praise and reward for succeeding along with critical reflexion and encouragement when things don’t go to plan.

Building confidence is also critical for women in business as it is in football. While there is now a much higher level of encouragement and support, there are still many people out there who expect you to fail. It’s therefore essential, especially for females, to share experiences with others and find mentors who will support as well as challenge you. This should not necessarily be limited to people within your field or sector – I find many of my role models come from outside the world of sport and offer a new perspective which can be applied in helping me achieve my goals.

Whether its business or football, to be the best, women need to force themselves out of their comfort zones if they want to be world class. There is more support than ever to help females succeed. With the right focus and a motivated team to deliver a clear vision we can achieve great things.

- Shelley Kerr is the manager of the Scottish women’s football squad