To continue our ‘Women in the Spotlight’ series, Christina Colmer McHugh, Co-founder and Director of NPIF investee business Moodbean talks about her role, how NPIF has helped her business to grow and what International Women’s Day means to her.
– Explain your role in the business and what your business does? I am the co-founder and director of health tech start-up Moodbeam. We have developed an award-winning wearable device that allows users to log their mood and monitor their emotional wellbeing – or that of their children, students, patients or employees. The device links to a companion app, which gives insight into how moods change over time and shows patterns and trends that can support positive change. I came up with the idea after my daughter had a tough time at school and I couldn’t find anything else in the market like this to monitor wellbeing and make a positive difference.
– How has NPIF helped your business? NPIF’s £200,000 investment allowed us to put the device into production. We set out to create a product with the potential to change lives and the investment enabled us to do that. Since the investment we have had interest from major organisations including health and social care, education and workplace wellbeing.
– Do you work in a male dominated industry and, if so, would you say it’s impacted your career? To be honest, I’ve never stopped to consider if I was or am in a male dominated industry. Perhaps that’s my mindset but I grew up with four brothers, so I learnt to overcome such bias from an early age. I worked in the media industry for 20 years and now tech and yes – some might say that they have been heavily dominated by males, but my attitude has always been to ignore the gender and praise the job. As a journalist, news editor, PR manager and now company director, I always have and continue to recruit on merit.
– Who would you class as your biggest influence/role model/mentor and why? I’m surrounded by people who blow me away with me their ‘can do’ attitudes every day – I believe in surrounding myself with positive people. Locally, someone who inspires me every time I’m in her company is Jan Brumby, CEO of FEO (For Entrepreneurs Only). She has the ability to praise where it’s due, succeed where others haven’t, and she is always checking in with me to see if I’m managing to keep spinning those plates! I guess when I stop to consider who my role models are they’re all people who have broken the ceiling in their respective environments, Michelle Obama, Sheryl Sandberg, Melinda Gates, Ginni Rometty, Veronica Guerin. Equally there are some amazing men – the likes of my dad, who inspired me every day until I had to say goodbye to him two years ago, my husband, my brothers and my co-founder, Jonathan. Also, the likes of great animator Peter Dodd who started to showcase his skills later in life, and also ex colleagues in the media and new colleagues in the tech incubator I work from at C4DI in Hull.
– What is the best and most inspiring piece of advice you have been given on your journey to far? Well, I have a few but the main ones that spur me on each day are: “Measure twice, cut once” – in other words prepare and do a good job. “Always tell the truth – it’ll come back to bite you if you don’t.” And the one that keeps me going every day. “You’ve created something that could quite possibly change people’s lives, make it that others will be able to keep evolving it. Long after you are gone.”
– Would you say more needs to be done across all sectors to create a better gender balance? I’d say that it’s already happening. Our biggest challenge is to keep it going. We can’t let this era of change be a one hit wonder.
– What does International Women’s Day mean to you? International Women’s Day is a celebration of women. In all forms. Whether they’re full time mums or carers (the hardest occupation of all, in my opinion) whether they’re cooks, cleaners, CEOs, chartered accountants or QCs, they’re still women and the biggest takeaway for me is the day that that is seen as a given, not an excuse or reason to be embarrassed. The day that we arrive in the door late and don’t feel apologetic because a child, a dog or a friend needed our help is the day that we will count as an equal. We’re capable, empathetic people and we don’t bring problems and barriers, we bring solutions because we’re forever spinning plates that very rarely break.
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