This was a very special invitation only lunch, organised by The BPCC, at the elegant, historic Oporto Cricket and Lawn Tennis Club on a bright, sunshine-filled Spring day, for a group of approximately fifteen invited guests. The guests had been carefully chosen to represent a broad spectrum of both business and life interests, yet offering a fascinating blend of minds and personalities, with the general dual aim of both traditional and curated networking amongst participants, but also to debate a topic of interest to all, with diverse opinions and interpretations, entitled, ‘Ladies of Influence’.

From the moment the guests began to arrive at the spacious bar and terrace, lively conversation sprang up, as pleasantries and introductions took place, common interests discovered, contacts exchanged and an equal mix of business opportunities and the excitement of meeting like-minded, interesting people evolved simultaneously. A wide variety of companies, skills, talents and occupations was represented, from lawyers, telecommunications experts, car rental Account Managers, an Information specialist, an International Negotiator and author, businesspeople, wine producers, ballroom dancing teachers and horse specialists among many others, through to artists, teachers and astrologers. Each guest had ample time to introduce themselves to the group as a whole, and to talk about their particular situation and professional interests.

The joy of this kind of coming together is in the unexpected discovery, not only of new acquaintances and potential friends, or a simple exchange of business cards, but in the creative synergy that forms, the stimulus of new ideas and new ways to cooperate and be of mutual support in business, a synthesis of positive vibrations! Networking at its most effective level.

In fact, the conversation was so vibrant and intense, that the main discussion theme had to wait a little while for all this excitement to lessen a little until we diverted our minds to the main theme. The main question for debate was to share opinion on the rising number of women in leadership positions, now very much on the increase, and to debate as to whether companies were developing the concept of gender parity in their future strategies, with reference to a recent study by EY ‘Is the X chromosome the X factor for business leadership?’ This asserts that companies led by women are more focussed on increasing market share, and women leaders looking to top positions in their respective industries, when compared to men. The study concludes that more women seek businesses which embrace a more collaborative strategy than men, looking for alliances with external partners with a view to innovate. Lively discussion ensued, with the ladies present especially relating their own experiences of the ‘glass ceiling’ in their careers, and of the importance of support both in the workplace and from partners at home.

The meal itself was delicious, comprising a delicate but tasty seafood starter, a main course of either a filled filo pastry Spring roll with mushroom sauce, or a fish dish, and a creamy mousse dessert with fruit salad also an option. Our table was in a wonderful position to view the sports grounds and beautiful trees and flowers, basking in sunlight.

It was a highly enjoyable and successful event, beautifully conceived and organised by Inês, and she is to be thanked and congratulated for both the concept, and the ability to bring together such an extraordinary mix of creative, talented yet driven guests, creating the perfect mix of individuals.

Text&Photos: Linda Janet Chaves