Lincolnshire’s most powerful business women

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The business world may be heavily male dominated, but in Lincolnshire there are several women who have broken through the glass ceiling to really make an impact in the county.

They are not only at the helm of large organisations generating millions of pounds for the local economy, but also play a big role in shaping the community around them, from suppliers to collaborators and staff.

Here are the Lincolnshire Business top four women in business:

Mary Stuart

Vice Chancellor – University of Lincoln

Professor Mary Stuart, Vice Chancellor at the University of Lincoln

As the Vice Chancellor of the University of Lincoln, Mary Stuart oversees the activity of around 13,000 students and 1,500 staff across campuses in Lincoln, Riseholme and Holbeach.

The university has invested around £200 million in the Brayford Pool Campus, with a further £130 million earmarked, that has transformed a city centre brownfield site, revitalised the area and attracted investment from the retail, leisure and property sectors.

The University of Lincoln is estimated to be worth more than £300 million to the local economy and create more than 3,000 new jobs.

Having established and grown the first new engineering school in the UK for more than 20 years in collaboration with Siemens, Mary Stuart has had a distinguished career and she has had to work hard to get to where she is now.

Brought up in South Africa, Mary moved to the UK with her husband during the depth of the recession in the 1980s to live in a bedsit and teach drama as her husband was out of work.

Despite her mother’s feelings that women shouldn’t work, Mary followed her father’s dream for her and obtained a second degree from the Open University (OU).

She found a calling in education, helping students to become the best they can be and working her way up the career ladder.

She is currently a board member of the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE), Chair of HEFCE’s Teaching Excellence and Student Opportunity Committee, member of Universities UKs task force on Social Mobility, and Vice Chair of the Equality Challenge Unit. She is also the Founding Director of the Greater Lincolnshire Local Enterprise Partnership, which works with businesses and the government to help grow the economy.

Ursula Lidbetter

Chief Executive – Lincolnshire Co-operative

Chief Executive of the Lincolnshire Co-operative Ursula Lidbetter. Photo Steve Smailes for Lincolnshire Business

Whilst many people would be happy to excel in just one area, Ursula Lidbetter has taken on several key roles in Lincolnshire, from becoming the Chief Executive of the Lincolnshire Co-operative to Chair of the Greater Lincolnshire Local Enterprise Partnership and Director of the Investors in Lincoln Group.

2016 saw a record breaking year for the Lincolnshire Co-operative as it topped £300 million in sales for the first time, with Ursula at the helm.

The 150 year old society has grown to include over 260,000 members, equivalent to a quarter of the population of Greater Lincolnshire, with 215 outlets across the county trading in food stores, funeral homes, travel agencies, florists and pharmacies with 2,900 staff.

In addition, Ursula is the Chair of  the Lincolnshire Chamber of Commerce and Business in the Community for the East Midlands.

She joined the Lincolnshire Co-operative on a graduate training scheme after studying at Hull University.

Despite the difficulties that come with wearing so many hats, Ursula makes it clear that when she is representing one role, that is the one she is focusing on at the time and no other.

She has a clear mission to create sustainable conditions for business growth and has achieved this in all of her roles.

Read Ursula Lidbetter’s cover story

Angela Andrews

Chief Executive – City of Lincoln Council

Angela Andrews, Chief Executive for City of Lincoln Council. Photo: Steve Smailes for Lincolnshire Business

For more than 30 years, Angela has only ever worked for the City of Lincoln Council, climbing all the way to the top from starting as a cashier when she was 18.

She did everything she could to better both herself and her career, taking up all training options the council provided and even qualifying as a chartered accountant in 1993 through Nottingham Business School.

With around 670 staff at the city council, Angela has made big changes to benefit both the council and the taxpayers including convincing the council to buy the building they are currently based in on Beaumont Fee in Lincoln for £13 million, saving over £100 million in the long run.

There are also a number of important back office functions connected to the Chief Executive’s role including finance, revenues and benefits, communications and policy.

Now in the official position of Chief Executive, Angela has big plans for the future of the city, despite drastic cutbacks announced at the end of 2015, which saw the government grants shrink from £2.585 million in 2015/16 to £22,350 by 2019/20.

She has been a key player in the Greater Lincolnshire Devolution plans as well as being in charge of Lincoln’s new £30 million Transport Hub.

Angela has a strong motto that she lives by in both her personal life and her career – ‘It’s better to try and fail than to fail to try.’

Read Angela Andrews’ cover story

Jayne Southall

Chief Executive – Lincolnshire Showground

Jayne Southall Chief Executive of the Lincolnshire Agricultural Society. Photo: Steve Smailes for Lincolnshire Business

Standing at the helm of the Lincolnshire Showground, Jayne has overseen some of the county’s most important developments in agriculture since the recession.

In 2006, Jayne took on the role of the finance manager at the Lincolnshire Agricultural Society and was asked to move up as Chief Executive just five years later.

In charge of around 23 members of staff, as well as maintaining 200 acres of land, the team host around 400 events each year — including the Lincolnshire Show — which bring around 300,000 visitors to the Showground every year.

Annual turnover at the Lincolnshire Showground has also increased to in excess of £2.4 million.

She has helped to transform the showground, doubling turnover and developing the land to include the Epic Centre in 2008, which now plays host to a whole range of events, including business expos, fairs and awards ceremonies.

Jayne has worked hard with her team to bring in some big attractions and live performances such as Elton John.

She continues to work together with businesses across the county to help bridge the gaps in the agricultural industry.

Read Jayne Southall’s cover story