The first meeting of PWIPM Professional Women in Pest Management in the UK was declared a resounding success by the 34 women who gathered at the CIEH building in Hatfield, London on 16 January.
The PWIPM idea originates in the USA. It was set up by a group of pest management women attending the National Pest Management Association’s (NPMA) annual conference. They called themselves Professional Women in Pest Management to avoid any confusion with the popular spouses programme which NPMA runs alongside its technical agenda.
|The inaugural UK meeting was organised by Killgerm Group’s Sabra Fearon. “The new group is based on the US idea but its future direction will depend on what the members want from it so I’m sure we’ll be giving it a British feel,” she said.
There was plenty of opportunity to network and it soon became clear that those attending represented a wide cross-section of the industry. From pest controllers who spend their lives at the sharp end of the business via field biologists and marketing professionals to office managers, PAs, and technical specialists; all were represented.
Pest associate editor Helen Riby was at the launch. “What a great idea. Women already contribute immensely to the pest management sector but through a group like this we can have an even bigger impact.Pestwill be supporting it as much as we can.”
Following lunch, which was kindly sponsored by Pest Control News, there were three excellent speakers.
Jennifer Leggett from Florida runs her own successful pest control business and is active in PWIPM USA, “Women get involved in State Pest Control Associations and serve on the National Pest Management Association board, so we’re helping make the decisions,” she explained. “But through PWIPM we also have our time where we can network and learn from each other. We girls can talk and we’re good at sharing stuff. You’re going to love it,” she enthused.
Christine Petyt from Excellion, an organisation which supports women in leadership, highlighted some of the differences between the genders and, encouragingly, suggested that in the current business climate the softer skills that women naturally bring to the workplace (empathy, ability to influence, social awareness, capacity to build trust) are in great demand.
The third speaker was Susan Denmead from the charity Dress for Success, which provides interview appropriate clothing to disadvantaged women. But it’s more than just the clothes. “It’s amazing to see our client’s confidence grow when they can see themselves well-dressed and suited ready for that interview,” explained Susan.
Speakers at the inaugural PWIPM event. Left to right: Jennifer Leggett (PWIPM USA), Sabra Fearon (Killgerm), Christine Petyt (Excellion) and Susan Denmead (Dress for Success)
The meeting was rounded-off with a delightful personal touch. Jennifer Leggett, on behalf of the American PWIPM group, presented Sabra with a silver necklace as a thank you gift for her efforts establishing the UK branch saying: “I’m delighted to present a necklace with a star to Sabra, as she has been a real star getting the ball rolling in the UK.”
Interested in finding out more about PWIPM UK? The next national meeting will be held during PestEx in April and regional meetings are being organised in the Midlands, the North West and London. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for details.