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18th March 2020

Women in the Spotlight – Nicole Markham

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Northern Powerhouse Investment FundCheshire and Warrington Local Enterprise PartnershipNPIF - BFS & MSIF Microfinance

To continue our ‘Women in the Spotlight’ series, Nicole Markham, Managing Director of NPIF investee business Sales Bond talks about her biggest role models and the best pieces of advice she had been given on her business journey.

–       Explain your role in the business and what your business does?

I am the Managing Director of Sales Bond – an independent lead generation agency specialising in appointment setting, pipeline management and data cleansing. We work with a wide variety of businesses across the UK in a range of sectors, predominantly technology and facilities management services. We have grown rapidly in recent years, increasing our capacity constantly.

–          How has NPIF helped your business?

We received £30,000 investment from NPIF – BFS & MSIF Microfinance, as part of a £70,000 funding round which has enabled us to implement our growth strategy and establish an additional office in Frodsham, Cheshire. The funding has also allowed us to recruit new staff in Cheshire and with the North West office now up and running, we are excited about the direction that the business is heading in.

–         Do you work in a male dominated industry and, if so, would you say its impacted your career?

I think it is important to embrace femininity and to recognise that we are different to men in the workplace. From experience, strong, successful men don’t want to work with tough and unemotional alpha women who may be like a clone of themselves. I am proud of my feminine qualities of nurturing, listening, and empathy, but also know that I have the ability to tune into my ‘more masculine side’ when I need to be assertive, independent, and harshly honest.

I can genuinely say I don’t believe gender has impacted my personal sales career as it is results based and I have always been successful. I have never given gender any thought, I have simply rolled my sleeves up, got on with the job in hand and thought “may the best man or woman win”.

–         Who would you class as your biggest influence/role model/mentor and why?

For me, anyone who moves through their life with purpose, clear goals and a positive mental attitude are extremely influential.

I think your chances of success in business can be amplified by having the right mentor. At Sales Bond, I have a Non-Executive Director, Roy Shelton MBA, who has the type of experience that can’t be found in books. His timely advice, regular checks and valuable connections are invaluable and ensure I am in the right place professionally and emotionally to drive Sales Bond’s growth to the next level.

–         What is the best and most inspiring piece of advice you have been given on your journey so far?

I have two favourite sayings in life.

“Live like a tiger, not a sheep” which I heard Madonna quote in an interview about 30 years ago. I had no idea it originated from a Tibetan maxim. Whenever I am having a bad day, a flash of insecurity or a negative thought I dust myself down, and try to be like a tiger – self-sufficient, confident and aware.

The other is “I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% how I react to it.” I have Charles Swindoll’s quote about attitude on my office wall. Every one of us has the ability to make each day as powerful and productive as possible, providing we have the right attitude.

–         Would you say more needs to be done across all sectors to create a better gender balance?

I think companies should be mindful of their gender balance and work towards strategies to improve female representation such as flexible working, focused career development, role models and mentoring. It is tough to be a successful working woman, particularly if you have children. Today’s society still expects that it is the woman’s responsibility to look after the school run, organise the packed lunches, sports kit, doctors’ appointments etc and, from experience, most Mums WANT and NEED to do this. It is part of their DNA. At Sales Bond we proactively facilitate remote working which enables Mum’s to be at home when their children return from school and embrace employing part-time workers who need freedom and flexibility to juggle the hectic schedules that parenthood demands.

–         What does International Women’s Day mean to you?  

My Mum’s birthday is on International Women’s Day so the 8th March is a very special day indeed! International Women’s Day is about recognising the successes and struggles of women around the world and important females who have made a difference in Britain’s society such as Emmeline Pankhurst, Margaret Thatcher and Marie Stopes.

I am extremely lucky to have some very dear and close female friends who are all focused on ways to create the impact they wish to have and achieve the outcomes they are aiming for. It is a day to recognize their success and their friendship.

The MSIF group of funds are managed by Alliance Fund Managers Limited which is regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority in the course of investment business. Financial Conduct Authority Registration Number is 180891.

BFS Funding Managers Limited is regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority as a Small Authorised UK AIFM under firm reference number 608682.

Editors Notes

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