Monday, 11 July 2016

INSPIREFEST 2016: The Event That Changed My Life.

This time last week I attended an event that completely changed my life. I have never been so motivated and empowered by an event. I still feel so overwhelmed with emotion, it’s not every day that you get to be in a room with some of the most powerful and strongest individuals, both men and women. I feel so honoured and proud that the people at Inspirefest felt I was worthy enough to attend Inspirefest as a blogger representative. The days leading up to Inspirefest I felt nervous, anxious and worried that walking into a room full of such influential and diverse people that I would stick out like a sore thumb and not have enough courage to connect with people. But what I soon realised was that I wasn’t the only person that felt this way. I met so many amazing people that I will keep in contact with for years to come.

Inspirefest was a two-day event from the 30th of June to the 1st of July. Both days were jam packed with amazing speakers and panels, where they spoke on various topics based on the issue of diversity and inclusion. What I loved most about this event was that it wasn’t just women, both men and women spoke on the issue and gave us a look into their own experiences. Speakers from all around the world came together to talk about such an important and crucial topic. It truly amazed me how much women are underrepresented in our society today, both in everyday life and in the workplace. All speakers raised the issue of diversity no matter your gender, sex, religious beliefs or ethnic background. We should all be included and we should all have our voices heard.

Before I begin I would just like to thank the phenomenal Ann O’Dea for creating such an amazing and life changing event such as Inspirefest. Ann is the co-founder of Silicon Republic which is Ireland's number one website for all tech news. There is a long list of all the amazing things that Ann has not only achieved but also done for women in the area of STEM. Ann is such a kind, loving and inspirational woman and without her, I would have never experienced such a motivational and empowering event which has lead me to take on my fears and has opened my eyes to the world of technology and business.

Here are just a few of the speakers that really stood out to me and impacted me in more ways than one;

Brenda Romero Co-Founder of Romero Games
Brenda began by stating that she was a “New Yorker and after 4 shots of espresso”. At that moment I just knew that this was a talk not to missed and that it would be full of non-stop laughter. Brenda’s talk was definitely one of the most humorous talks over the course of the two days which focused on the portrayal of women in the gaming industry. Throughout her talk she had us all in fits of giggles while still bringing attention to the harsh reality of how women's bodies are portrayed in such an exaggerated and sexual way.

She called for the gaming industry to start becoming more diverse. When playing a game, we all want to fulfil a wish or play out a story that we are interested in. We call on heroes in games, there is no reason why women cannot be those heroes. ”Women are not means of ornamentation”.  We need to promote the fact that the first woman was a programmer ‘Ada Lovelace’ and not a man like everyone presumes. There is a great need to change the perception of the gaming and tech industry with regards to inclusion of women.

Sinead Burke Equality Advocate,  Researcher and Writer
Sinead spoke about how she felt underrepresented in the magazines that she read daily. She knew everything about fashion no matter where in the world, but the only people she could share her knowledge with was her family. Sinead then found a friend in ‘the internet’. She brought about the realisation that in 12 years, with a total of 144 issues released there was not one single model of colour on the cover of Vogue.
After seeing the horrific headlines after L’Wren Scott passed, Sinead along with many other people such as myself was outraged that L’Wren was not recognised by her own name and accomplishments, she was recognised as ‘Mick Jagger’s wife’. Sinead started reaching out to many influential woman where she promised not to ask about their husband, children, work-life balance or fashion (unless they were fashion designers). From there she went on to take over the world of fashion. Interviewing Oscar winners, featuring as a guest on the Late Late show and most importantly visiting schools to speak about diversity.

Dr Sue Black OBE
Dr Sue Black is a woman who truly made a change in the world, earlier this year she received an OBE at Buckingham palace for her contribution to technology. Sue used the power of social media to increase awareness of Bletchley Park. If you don’t already know about Bletchley Park then I would highly recommend doing some reading on this amazing story. Bletchley Park produced a secret intelligence which played a huge part in World War II and also the outcome of the conflict. Since then it was untouched and began to be forgotten about, until Dr Sue came along and gave it some much needed TLC.
Through her determination and constant hard work, she used the means of crowdsourcing and social media to make that change and to show the true importance of Bletchley. She used social media to bring awareness and to connect thousands of people together. Not only did she connect people she also proved that we cannot let our past generations fade away into the distance, we must preserve them and continue to spread awareness of our history.

Judith Williams, Global Head of Diversity at Dropbox
Judith focused on the issue of exclusion, how people think they know everything about disability. How there is a high degree of bias with regards to what people with a disability can and can’t do. Judith spoke about the importance of universal design, referring to neo-universal design and how we should focus on catering to the exception. A bad design does not cater for all, it does not take into consideration those who do not fit the ‘one size fit all’ model/image.
People that have a disability are a minority and Judith brought about the true reality that we are all just 1 accident away from being a part of that minority.  This really hit home for me and really made me think about how easy it is to forget that in life, every single second counts.

Kelly Hoey Investor, Laconia Capital
Firstly, I would like to start by saying this woman has truly changed my life. Her words resonated so deeply with me and truly inspired me to go out and show my true worth. Kelly opened her talk by informing us of her reluctance to speak in public and her reluctance to network. If she could change the word ‘networking’ she would, admitting she would much rather go see a dentist than to ‘network’. 
Kelly changed her 1st career in 2001/2002 and her second in 2009. Explaining how much she can relate to us millennials, as at that time in her life the economy was just as bad as it is now.
What truly stood out for me was Kelly’s explanation of how we all create our own careers. That our careers only make sense when we look back at our relations. We must put ourselves out there and be in constant communication. She enlightened us on her top 3 tips to be successful in business, all which revolved around the theme of connectivity. Her talk made me want to go out and fight for myself and my self-worth, to not only go out and connect with people but to show them why I work so hard and to show them what I know. To go out, create, create and create some more.

Mary Carty Co-Founder of Outbox Incubator
Mary is an incredible entrepreneur and has an outstanding career background in not only technology but also in the area of arts and innovation. She is the co-founder of the Outbox Incubator, which first took place in London for girls interested in the area of STEM and aged 11-22. They have worked with over 115 girls from 6 countries for over 6 weeks. From this, the girls have not only gained an in-depth knowledge of innovation, technology and business they have also gained confidence and friends for life.
Mary is the definition of innovation, she has been a program developer, a lecturer, a speaker and also works continuously in the public, private and nonprofit sector. She announced at Inspirefest that the next Outbox Incubator will be held in Ireland, woohoo! On top of that, she hopes this idea will spread throughout the world to encourage more young girls to get involved in STEM projects from an earlier age. I have already been stalking the Outbox Incubator website and twitter in the hopes that I can apply and be a part of the next Outbox Incubator.

Elena Rossini Filmmaker, Photographer and Multimedia Producer
There is a million and one magical words I could use to describe this woman; she is a true gem. I have never met a young woman who is so loving and has such a warm heart. In just a few short minutes she made me long for my childhood. The childhood memories of playing with an infinite number of dolls. Receiving a Lottie doll at last year’s Inspirefest opened up an amazing opportunity for Elena to work with the creators of the Lottie doll and create a heart-warming and tear jerking film about this beautiful 6 year old girl from Canada who had the privilege of creating her own little Lottie doll called ‘The Stargazer’ .The stargazer doll was created after her mother contacted the Lottie creators for making such a real and child friendly doll that is a true representation of an innocent child and their passions in life.
Elena transported every single person back to their childhood and made us swoon over her amazing film-making skills.

Carrie Hammer Founder of Role Models Not Runway Models
Carrie Hammer is one of the most inspirational women I have ever met. The impact she has had on so many women’s lives is mind-blowing. Carrie started her career as a sales woman where she heard over and over again that she should dress for the job she wanted not for the job she had. But she found this quite difficult as there was a limit to the clothes that were both fashionable and formal. Because of this she started her own fashion line.
Carrie was the first woman to have a runway at New York Fashion week that included a model in a wheelchair. Carrie found herself receiving emails from a variety of woman explaining their gratitude for her fashion show and also from mother’s that wanted to see more and more role models for their daughters. Carrie has truly impacted the lives of so many people in such a positive way by putting emphasis on the fact that we are all beautiful and perfect in our own ways.

To conclude, I am honoured, grateful, astonished, star struck, determined, overwhelmed, informed, touched and most importantly INSPIRED! Never would I have thought that after two days of attending this event that my life would have changed for the better! It's my time to go out and show what I have to offer, why I work so hard every day of my life, why I study for hours upon hours to get the best university degree I can get, why I put 100% into everything I dedicate my time to. All to get to where I want to be! I am making it my mission to go out and connect with the amazingly talented speakers! To amplify my voice and to be heard! BIG things are ahead for this tall redhead young woman.

I hope you enjoyed this blogpost as I had such an amazing time writing it. To each reader, just know that you are powerful, strong and can achieve whatever you desire in life.
Love Rouxella x


  1. great post, well worth waiting for! mags

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  3. Great post and great insight from all the speakers that took part at Inspirefest2016!

  4. Lovely post, you sum it up very well. It really was an amazing event, maybe we will see each other there next year :)

  5. Lovely post, this look really interesting. I would love to visit something like this.

  6. Sounds amazing - great to hear it inspired so much passion in you and totally lived up to its name!

    Emma |

  7. i would kill to go to that even!! just from reading about it it made me inspired I can't believe what is like to be there!!

    congrats on going keep the post coming, cuz i loved them

    Loves from Sun &

  8. Wow, what a phenomenal post! I would just love to attend this event - it sounds amazing! Such a range of subjects and speakers, awesome!