Strong women. Strong voices.

I have always been one for standing for female empowerment and taking equal charge as leaders and role models. But I never really understood that concept fully or appreciated the empowerment until I became an official leader myself. As a kid, I was labelled bossy. As an adult I have turned that into assertive, creative and communicative. And a year since I graduate uni I have spun this into action. This post isn't about me going over age-old feminist arguments, I want to bring up a few of the things that have inspired active change in myself as a leader and the way I am now choosing to shape my life. A couple of women from whom I have turned the theory I've heard and put into practice. Where they have taught me to empower myself.

Emma Watson

I don't even need to ask to know that I won't be the first person to say that this woman has been an idol of mine for years. 15 to be exact. While she is by no means a recent entry to my bank of strong women, she is a good example of someone who continually influences and surprises you at different times.

As a 9 nine year old through to my teens I was one of the many of the young girls inspired by Hermione Granger. She taught us that you could be all "books and cleverness" and still play the lead, be respected by many and not need to dumb yourself down for anybody.

For Hermione I could have said JK Rowling - who in herself is a bloody marvellous human being. However, it was what Watson did with her Hermione responsibility and then her post-Potter days that continues to inspire me.

The #HeForShe campaign is one major example and she continually produces incredible interviews in Vogue and other outlets that I always make sure I read.

She has a quiet sense of empowerment and confidence. Perhaps inherited from her Potter days yet for any woman going into management or leadership, this an example to take from.

As a director this year for Union Southampton, I have found that it is the calm sense of confidence and in trusting myself to be empowered, that I have made some of my finer decisions. When you create a calm sense of self-confidence and you are strong in your approach or purpose. I've noticed examples of this in talking to students and in networking events. But the influence comes from Watson and the way she commands her life.

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Gloria Steinem

So this makes for an accidental but pretty smooth transition. I heard about Steinem's book "My Life On The Road" through, funnily enough, Emma Watson's first Book Club recommendation.

"When people ask me why I still have hope and energy after all these years, I always say: Because I travel." - Gloria Steinem (2015)

The only autobiographies I'd ever really read were Miley Cyrus' "Miles to Go" when I was sixteen and a bunch of others on my A-Level English Lit reading list. My fave was definitely Maya Angelou's "I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings". But all it took was the simple quote above for me to be throwing my dollar at the bookseller.

Having moved around a lot growing up, her voice really spoke to me and suddenly I felt less alone in the thoughts I had as a kid - and at times even today. Wanting a stable home in one place, wishing for a more 'normal' and conventional life and desperately seeking this in adulthood.

Several quotes struck a chord with me throughout this marvellous book, but the biggest for me happened when I was sat on a train from Bruges to Brussels reading the epilogue. Steinem tells of the way in which once she set up something called home for herself, travel became her choice and not her fate.

While this doesn't necessarily fit from a manager/leader perspective, it set the entrepreneurial mind in me free. When I sussed out what "home" meant to me, I was released from the desperate desire to fit into society's plan for me. I finally accepted me, and I haven't looked back. Being constantly on the go is my choice, my passion. Not what I am because others say so first. Aaaaand if you have a job that let's me do this, please let me know, 'k?!

*Photo credit via

JoJo Moyes

So this final link is not completely direct and is not actually real, but the message still struck. My final influence are two characters created by JoJo Moyes, so her name is at the top.

The story of "Me Before You" is a beautiful one. I'm not going to lie to you, I was sceptic of it. I watched the trailer for film because I adore Emilia Clarke and Sam Claflin, but in my mind it seemed like a British version of Nicholas Sparks novel. Meh, who am I kidding!? It is exactly a British version of a Nicholas Sparks novel with the level of plot twists and the amount of crying you find yourself doing at the end.

Yet, it was one of my easiest reads and had me smiling openly several times. The message I took from it was to live your life to the fullest and never quench the thirst for life ("quench" is a weird word isn't it!?). A generic message I know, but it reminded me that no matter how tired you think you are, learning, working and developing never stops after 5pm. Or at the end of your bank account balance.

I used to suddenly get tired when I opened Wordpress or looked into more business related stuff. I learned to distinguish what was real fatigue and I got on with it. Each time I get a bit further with my blog, the channels, the business I want to set up, I get the age old voices telling me I'm not good enough. But as Will Traynor says in the book, we only have one life and it's kind of our responsibility to live it as fully as possible. I love writing and social media

*Photo credit via

This list is by no means limited and new influences happen every week, sometimes every day. I wrote this post because I watched a talk by Penny Endersby (DSTL) as part of internship.

So, those are a couple of my recent influences, what are yours?

Hope you're enjoying your week!

Han x