The Master of the Worshipful Company of Builders’ Merchants (WCoBM), Pippa Latham, attended the inaugural conference organised last week by the NMBS Finance Director, Julie Langford, to promote diversity and inclusion in our sector.

The conference, hosted by TV presenter Georgie Barrat, took place at the Stock Exchange in London. Over 60 women across merchants, manufacturers and service suppliers attended the event to share experiences, inspire ideas, and to learn from each other as well as the guest speakers.

Latham was sitting on the industry panel, which included Glynis Catterson of S&A Builders Merchants and Samantha Hanks of Cembrit.

She talked of the many career opportunities in merchanting and the need for better communication to parents, schools and colleges to improve understanding and awareness so our sector is attractive to girls and boys.

With a career in investment banking before joining the family business James Latham plc, the Master is no stranger to working in male dominated industries: “From my personal experience, you learn to manage it,” says Pippa. “It shouldn’t stop you from progressing and the key is to keep looking for the opportunities.”

Guest speakers from outside the sector included the former England National football team winger, Karen Carney MBE, who took part in a thought provoking discussion on the explosion of women’s football.

Sally Bevan, Managing Director of Santander UK, focused on balancing a career with family life, while Mandy Hickson, the only female pilot on her Front Line Tornado Squadron, recalled her determination to succeed in the RAF against seemingly insurmountable hurdles.

The conference included two ‘Lean In’ sessions, covering mental health and led by Dr Dorian Dugmore, and a networking opportunity led by entrepreneur Asha Pitt.

The Master was pleased to see familiar faces with other female Liverymen also in the room, but shared her determination to attract more women into the Livery.

“Joining WCoBM is by invite only, but looking around this room, I can see many ambitious and professional women that I believe would provide valuable input to our growing Company.”, she said.