“It would be great to have more young people at the IoD” Georgina Freeman, Education and Skills Ambassador, IoD Yorkshire

Having graduated with a law degree in 2021, Georgina Freeman represents a new generation of IoD members. She is an Education and Skills Ambassador for the IoD in Yorkshire and would like to encourage more young people to join the organisation across the UK.

“I took an apprenticeship with the Chartered Institute of Legal Executives at 18 and qualified as a paralegal before I decided to take a law degree. I was the first legal apprentice to become a member of the IoD and I have also taken a summer programme in corporate governance at Harvard.

It would be great to have more young people at the IoD – I would feel more comfortable with people of a similar age. Perhaps we could do more of the Dragon’s Den style events we have run before as part of the Young Director’s Forum? Joining as a student member has been really helpful for me but I’m not sure other young people understand all the benefits. The events are a great way to network with business experts and the free advice you can get on things like tax is really useful.

I have found mentors to be extremely helpful in my career. Talking to a mentor is like having a safe place to discuss ideas and strategy, unlike going to your manager or partner. I have met all my mentors by chance – one of them through the IoD – I always think there is no harm in asking someone to go for a coffee and a chat.

Like many people of my generation, I have a different view on the quality of life outside of work and recognise that a lot of people are not looking to ‘live to work’. However, I wish we were taught more about business at school and how to balance work and life. The younger generation don’t know about all of this but they want to start businesses. They would benefit from some of the IoD’s courses like ‘Finance for Non-Finance Directors’.

I am mindful of stereotypes, especially at some events I have attended. Breaking down barriers isn’t going to happen overnight, but things are definitely changing. Older generations with outdated views are retiring and making way for a new generation of leaders who are prepared to instigate change. The majority of recruitment processes now have a system of not being able to know people’s identifying qualities until the last stage of the interview. This means women are obtaining jobs because they are talented and capable and the best person for the role.

Unfortunately, some women can be very critical of each other. I went to an all-girls school where we were encouraged to support each other and I have maintained this approach. The beauty of being female is that we are good at listening.  Women supporting women is cheesy but true.

Confidence could be a barrier for women – but it’s not something you can teach. We have to find our own voice and believe in ourselves. Someone will always counteract what you have to say and that’s fine because we are all different. If you are confident in what you know, then you can walk into any room and talk to anyone. Networking can also be a challenge because you might need to be at an event for hours, that’s why LinkedIn is also so helpful because you can connect online.

I feel like women have more choices now around having family. By balancing our life and careers and taking conscious and deliberate decisions, maybe we really can ‘have it all’.  There shouldn’t be any stigma drawn against women who choose not to have a family or if they decide to leave work to have children.  It seems that employers are increasingly understanding the importance of supporting family life.

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