Pictured (left to right): Laura Murphy (Billesley Manor Hotel and Spa), Keely Hancox (Chamber), Anne Shaw (Transport for West Midlands), Claire Lea (Prime Accountants Group), Hazel Pilling (Chamber)

The woman spearheading the transport plans across the West Midlands and in preparation for the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games told a business audience of the importance of partnership working.

Anne Shaw, Interim Managing Director at Transport for West Midlands, was a speaker at the Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce’s first face-to-face Women in Business Networking Lunch event since autumn 2019 due to Covid-19.

The networking lunch attracted around 60 businesswomen from across the region to the Billesley Manor Hotel & Spa in Warwickshire, which has recently completed a £5.6 million refurbishment.

Anne, who started her career as a drainage technician at Birmingham City Council, said she had been working on the Games Transport Plan for the last four years.

“The plan will come together through partnership working – and that is vital in every aspect of business,” she said.

“It is not just the transport authorities that are involved but other businesses and people who are interested in the Games to ensure we deliver this efficiently.

“We will be supporting the transportation of the athletes from their accommodation at the University of Warwick, the NEC Hotel Campus and the University of Birmingham as well as putting the services in place to bring visitors and spectators to all the venues which includes the bowls and Para bowls in Leamington, Rugby Sevens, Judo and Wrestling in Coventry and the Cycling Road Races in Warwickshire.

“We also need to ensure we have a smooth public transport system for the thousands of visitors coming to our region because we want to encourage them both to stay and come back which has an impact on the local economy. We want them to leave with the right impression of the West Midlands.

“The Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games will leave a fantastic legacy and will show we are the place to hold events of this stature and continue to grow.

“My job is to make sure the transport is invisible and that everyone leaves the region having had a great time.”

She was followed on the speaker’s podium by Claire Lea, a Director and Head of Advisory Tax at Prime Accountants Group which has offices in Coventry, Birmingham and Solihull.

Claire spoke about the importance of mentors and how they had proved invaluable throughout her 16 years in the profession as a tax advisor.

The former University of Warwick student said: “I would encourage women to find a mentor particularly those starting out.

“I now head up the tax advisory team for my firm but without my mentors over the years, I wouldn’t have done a lot of the things I have achieved in my career.

“It gives you a lot of support and confidence which is something that women often lack but they shouldn’t because one of my top tips is ‘what’s the worst that can happen?’.”

Keely Hancox, Operations Manager at the Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce, said it had been fantastic to resume the Women in Business events in person.

She said: “It is so important for Coventry and Warwickshire businesses to connect with each other and you could hear the buzz in the room and there was a feeling that business is starting to return to normal.

“We hope this will inspire the business community to come to more of the Chamber’s events which are the lifeblood of our organisation.

“Anne and Claire both gave important messages in their talks about the power of partnership working and mentoring – and the Chamber’s 21in21 mentoring programme which brings together senior female business leaders with aspiring women leaders, entrepreneurs or young people is proving a great success.”