Inspire Inclusion – International Women’s Day at Space & Time

Heather Connearn, Managing Director

The theme for this year’s IWD is Inspire Inclusion. I’m in a fortunate position where I get the opportunity to do that and it’s not something I take lightly. My own journey to a leadership position was not without its challenges, there were moments of disappointment and anger at feeling unfairly treated compared to my male peers. I hope that I can be part of a leadership team that creates an environment where nobody feels that type of frustration.

So how do we inspire inclusion? I laugh when I look at my most recent Thomas Profile (personality test) as my behavioral preference or work mask, has changed significantly over 5 years to being as focused on ‘Compliance (policy)’ as I am on ‘Influence (motivated by my effects on others)’. Compliance in this context is about maintaining or improving standards. I have had to adapt my work personality significantly over the years to adjust to the changing roles that I am performing. I often bore myself with how much I talk about creating consistent processes, but compliance (policy) is critical to successfully managing change. The truth about ensuring we have a business that enables the equitable treatment of women and equitable treatment of all our employees, is about creating strong transparent processes.

I believe the inspiration part comes in walking the walk. Creating fair representation across all levels and establishing an environment that allows two-way communication so that as a business, we are open to listening to our employees and growing with them.

In a world where it feels like we have become used to being polarised, I hope to create an environment that allows us to learn from each other, from the mistakes of the past, to move forward and empower one another. I want to be part of a balanced organisation that is fair to everyone. Like many businesses we still have some work to do but we are committed to doing it.


Jane Wareing, Social Team Manager

When it comes to being a woman at work, I often find myself thinking about two distinct images that seem to define our experiences.

First, there’s the “nice girl” – always polite, never rocking the boat, and hoping that if she keeps her head down, someone will notice her efforts. But let’s be real, this approach rarely gets the recognition it deserves. It’s like we’re stuck in this old-fashioned notion that being agreeable is the only way to succeed as a woman.

Then there’s the “career woman” – bold, unyielding, and unabashedly ambitious. She’s the one we’re told to aspire to be if we want to make it in the business world. This can be an empowering idea, but also can pressure women into adopting a persona that they may not be comfortable with in order to dominate male-centred spaces.

I remember being labelled as “bossy” when I was younger, and feeling like I needed to tone it down to fit in. But why should we have to shrink ourselves to fit into someone else’s mould?

Having other women in the workplace to support me (and to aspire to) is crucial and has been a pivotal part of my career. It’s about seeing real-life examples of having women around us and having women taking up space in traditionally male-dominated places.

At Space & Time, I’m lucky to be surrounded by women who are leading the way and showing me what’s possible, who are also there as a support system, aiding my progression and development. Having strong female role models in our office, such as our Managing Director Heather, and within my own team having the affinity of my fellow Team Manager Carla, and the support and guidance from Helena, our Lead, has been invaluable in helping me to grow into my role.

This is one thing that helped me to stop buying into the media’s narrow portrayal of women at work. We’re not one-dimensional characters – we’re complex, multifaceted beings with our own unique strengths and weaknesses. It’s okay to have good days and bad days, to speak up when something doesn’t sit right with us, and to be unapologetically ourselves.

It’s okay if one day you don’t feel comfortable not sending an email to someone without several exclamation marks and a smiley face emoji because you don’t want them to think you’re mad at them. And it’s equally okay to sometimes fight your corner a bit harder than you would have the day before because you have different experiences than the person contradicting you, or you have gained knowledge that they haven’t.

We’ve come a long way, and we still have some way to go, because it can still be intimidating when you’re the only woman sat on a Teams call with men, especially if you have something different to say or when someone questions something you have put forward, just remember that confidence is key. It’s about owning your expertise, speaking up in meetings, and sending emails without overthinking every word. As humans we will still doubt ourselves from time to time, but if we back ourselves with facts and data and trust our instincts, we can’t go wrong.


Anastasia Hodinchuk, SEO Executive

As I settle in to share my journey, I can’t help but feel a rush of excitement and gratitude for the path that has led me here. Let’s talk about life’s curveballs because, believe me, I’ve been there, done that, and I’ve got the t-shirt to prove it. Picture this: dropped out of university to start working in a field I enjoyed, five years into my career in content management, and I started feeling like a fish out of water. It was comfortable, sure, but comfort doesn’t exactly fuel your ambitions, and that was the issue.

Now, let me pause and provide some context. I come from a long line of ladies who believe in sticking to one path, one career, one city, till death do us part, because it seems a safer option. But contrary to my grandmother’s old-fashioned beliefs, the life motto I stick to is “if you don’t’ like it, change it; if you don’t change it, don’t cry and complain about it”. So, I’m all about pursuing new opportunities that excite me, never settling for less, and making independent, bold moves to get more in life — even if it gives my grandma a heart attack every now and then. At the end of the day, if a person doesn’t fight and risk for their dreams, who else will give them all they want in life?

Now, back to the story. A few years ago, came a film-like life’s curveball one doesn’t expect – I had to leave all my life behind and move to the UK. The expected reaction? A wave of panic, maybe a few tears. But with a family to support and my own ambitions to chase, I refused to give in to sentimentality which anyway wasn’t going to get me very far.

After moving, I realised there was a slight hitch in finding a job within my field – I lacked the UK formal experience that everyone seemed to be asking for. But I also wasn’t about to settle for a quick job I didn’t enjoy, even if circumstances dictated otherwise. So, I gave myself space to figure things out and instead of dwelling on the negative, I chose to view it as a challenge, a chance to find a new career path that ignited my passions and improved my financial situation at the same time. That appeared to be a pragmatic decision because I firmly believe that when a person is passionate about something, their growth accelerates, consequently leading to an improvement in financial situation. I’ve always known I’m a quick learner, a go-getter, with the potential to progress rapidly. But I needed someone else to recognize it too and give me the chance to prove myself.

And guess what? S&T noticed that spark. Through the Launchpad Scheme, they gave me a ticket to my new career. Oh, how incredible this experience was – undergoing 2-weeks training in each fantastic digital marketing team, endeavouring to discover which aspect of marketing truly resonates with me. I became a part of the community that not only values growth and change but actively fosters it. They acknowledge the potential, thirst for knowledge, and drive to succeed in everyone, without any bias. This blend of business acumen and genuine care for every person truly left a lasting impression on me.

The decision about which team I’d join followed a similar approach. Initially, I was torn between PPC and SEO, and even considered programmatic at one point, because every single team at S&T presented their jobs so enthusiastically, I couldn’t resist but shared their passion. However, after spending two weeks with the SEO team, I knew that is what I’ve been looking for. And picture this: I’m on a call with my Launchpad line manager, eagerly awaiting the final decision regarding my team placement. Suddenly, he drops the bombshell: “So… Anastasia… You said you wanted to be a part of S… Social?” My heart skips a beat. Now, usually, I’d appreciate his sense of humour, but in that split second, I have the urge to tenderly throw my shoe at him – followed swiftly by a hug – because, yes, I’ve been selected for the SEO team.

I was met with a myriad of possibilities, each aspect of SEO beckoning with its own challenges. From digital PR to technical optimisation, from content creation to on-site tweaks, the SEO field sprawled before me like an expansive playground of endless potential.

The SEO team at S&T showed me that there’s never a finish line in this journey; instead, it’s an ongoing adventure of discovery, learning, and experimentation. They encouraged me to express my ideas and thoughts, emphasising the importance of fearlessly experimenting to find my own approach to completing tasks, and inspired for further growth.


Kerry Carrick, Strategic Performance Director

Throughout my career, and particularly during my 15 plus years at Space & Time, I’ve been surrounded by inspirational women – both colleagues and clients. In an industry that is typically known to be male dominated, I’ve taken inspiration from my female clients and colleagues holding senior management positions to help me grow within my role to where I am today. We’re seeing more and more women moving into Board level roles in the Property and Advertising industries, helping to #InspireInclusion to those women starting their career journey.

This years’ theme is Inspire Inclusion – how can I fill someone with the urge or ability to do or feel something whilst also feeling part of something?

I’m fortunate in my role to be involved in recruiting and developing new female talent in the agency. My own journey from Account Executive to Strategic Performance Director across the years means I can share my knowledge and experience gained, and I can be open about my struggles with imposter syndrome. Balancing a difficult home situation with a career in a demanding industry means I can relate to some of the challenges faced by working parents, and I can give my support and guidance. I can support the wider team in mental health and wellbeing by training as a Mental Health First Aider and most recently by training to participate in the upcoming Manchester Marathon, raising much needed funds to support Diabetes UK, a charity very close to my heart – hopefully inspiring women to partake in sport and achieve what they thought wasn’t possible for them.

I feel honoured to be asked to share my story this #IWD2024 and share my own sense of belonging, relevance, and empowerment in the hope I can #InspireInclusion.


Bethan Gibson, Business Director

Whilst I’ve always celebrated International Women’s Day, this year’s campaign theme of inspiring inclusion is particularly important to me, as it is something that I strive to do every day as a working mum, and it is something that I would have personally valued more of earlier on in my own career when female (parent) role models weren’t so common place as they are now. 


Having spent the beginning of my career working for two of the largest network agencies, I was drawn to Space & Time over 11 years ago due to their independent status and the opportunity to have more autonomy in my role and have a greater opportunity to grow my career in an agency that was still very much at the start of its own growth journey.


As the agency grew and evolved, so did my own role. When S&T went through its first significant restructure in 2014, I was thrilled to become part of the first senior management team, allowing me to not only continue to work closely with my clients but also to help shape the future of the agency. Over the following few years, my progression took a bit of a backseat as I went on maternity leave with my son in 2015 and subsequently with my daughter in 2017. However, on my return, the newly formed exec board were supportive of my decision to return to work on a part time basis and shaped my role to accommodate this – reducing my client involvement but increasing my non client focus responsibilities. This allowed me to still be involved in the growth of the agency, whilst also allowing me time for my ‘other job’ of being mum to two young and very demanding toddlers. To be honest, my S&T role was often the easier of the two!


Despite a brief hiatus as I took time out on maternity leave, overall I am fortunate that my decision to start a family hasn’t held me back in any regard, and my career has continued to grow whilst simultaneously raising my children. However, it’s not always been easy and I have had to make a conscious effort to ensure my ambitions to progress are known, so I am not overlooked in favour of some of my fellow peers without the same parental responsibilities.


One of my greatest achievements to date was in 2020 when I was promoted to associate director and joined the associate board. In doing so, I became the first, and only, mum (as well as the only part time employee) on the board which I am extremely proud of. I hope that my position is recognised by other women within the agency as I want to inspire others that they can still continue to grow their career if they choose to start a family. It no longer has to be one or the other. 


I am actually a massive advocate of having parents in senior positions as I truly believe that since becoming a mum, my skills have enhanced rather than reduced. Parenting causes you to be much more efficient – as your cognitive load increases, you have a lot more to think about and plan for and this makes you an expert at both prioritisation and time management. You simply can’t NOT be organised as a mum! I also believe that you become more empathetic and understanding as a parent, which I think are excellent transferable skills when managing a team. 


I am very grateful to have the opportunities that this generation has created. So much has changed for women in the workplace in the past couple of decades – flexible working, wfh arrangements, childcare facilities, shared parental leave, to name just a few. However despite all of that, the juggle is still real, and I still often feel isn’t as widely recognised as it should be. I am often running out of the door 5 minutes later than I should, feeling guilty that I’ve left emails unread but then feeling guilty when I see the kids being the last ones waiting at the school gates. Unfortunately I think this is an inbuilt part of being a parent, so perhaps it will never change. But as long as we continue to support, value and offer flexibility for working mums then I hope that future generations (including my own daughter) will have even more doors open for them.