International Women’s Day 2022

To celebrate this year’s International Women’s Day, we are showcasing the achievements and credentials of a handful of inspirational women from across Minster who play a key part in our ongoing growth and success.

We sat down with some of the team to ask them more about their roles, their aspirations, and their top tips to other female leaders – all as part of a day which highlights and celebrates millions of women across the world.

First up in our brief series of interviews is, quite fittingly, our managing director Susan Marlow – a widely respected leader and mentor who has been an inspiration to countless employees across the business for many, many years.

Susan MarlowHi Susan. You are first up! Perhaps you can start by telling us about your role here at Minster Micro?

I just want to start by saying how fantastic it is to be part of this for International Women’s Day.

I am the company’s managing director and have been at Minster since 1988. My role has so many strands but overall it’s about setting and maintaining the strategic direction and vision for the business and more than anything, making sure we all live and breathe our values every single day. I am lucky to be leading a business with such a talented team – including some really amazing women.

So if you are able to, could you say what your biggest achievement is to-date?

I am so lucky to be involved in a variety of projects and successes both inside and outside of the business. It’s really difficult to articulate just one thing I am proud of.

On a personal level, and this will always be my greatest achievement, is being the mum of two wonderful children who make me proud each and every day!

Business-wise, I am proud of our Apprenticeship programme which we started in 2015 and relaunched last year following the Covid pandemic. The programme is all about giving opportunities and developing the leaders of tomorrow. Other achievements I am proud of are in the education arena. I love my role as a School Governor and laterally, Chair of Governors. This has allowed me to give something back to the education system locally and ensure young people can aim and achieve high with the best backing and investment. Staying in education, I recently became a visiting lecturer at Birmingham City University and this has had an enormous impact on my self-esteem. To be recognised as someone who can add value to the next generation was honestly a big wow moment for me.

What does International Women’s Day mean to you?

It’s about celebrating and recognising the achievements of women - whether that is from personal or professional endeavour. It’s brilliant to see how the profile of this day has grown and grown over the past few years. All women should take strong inspiration from it.

Turning to a really important question. What tips would you give to other females in the working world?

For me, it’s never ever lose your femininity. Also don’t be afraid to admit you don’t know or can’t do something - it’s a strength, and not a weakness. Additionally, make sure you find some ‘me time’ - mine is the morning dog walk, it gives me thinking time, prepares my mind for the day ahead and keeps me fit…sort of!

Finally Susan, can you name one other female who inspires, or who has inspired you?

This is another tough question.

I’d say for me it is Madonna. She may be not everybody’s cup of tea but she was someone who became an icon whilst I was a teenager and who I grew up alongside, and am getting old alongside! She never lost her femininity and re-marketed herself on the outside to suit the changing times and audience. However, she has never lost sight of who she is and her focus, and she continues to love what she does as much today as what she did yesterday.

She helped to provide an alternative outlook for many women of my generation.


Following Susan, and next up in our series of International Women’s Day interviews, is our marketing assistant, Hannah Powis.

A valued member of our team and a real star of the future, Hannah has been with us for just over two years.

Hannah Powis rotated e1646730463273Hi Hannah. Perhaps we can kick off by you telling us a bit more about your role here at Minster?

Of course! My role here at Minster covers a wide variety of the marketing mix. I create and manage our social media content, manage our website and ensure our SEO is in the best shape possible to help us with new business lead generation. I also help to organise our events, marketing materials and coordinate our external PR programme which helps us to promote our credentials locally and regionally.

And as a future female leader, what would you say has been your biggest personal or professional achievement to date? What are you most proud of?

If I was pressed to come up with my biggest achievement, I think my graduation from university with a 2:1 in English Literature has to be my proudest moment. But I am also proud of my role in helping my grandfather to publish a book about his amazing life growing up in Sri Lanka.

International Women’s Day is now a big day in the annual calendar. But what does it mean to you?

I think it is a day to be proud of being a woman and everything that entails – from being mothers to working our way up the career ladder. It’s important to embrace the rights we have and look back at how far we have come when looking at the struggles some women are still facing around the world. We can’t underestimate how important a day like this is for women.

Part of the day is about supporting each other. So what tips would you give to female colleagues?

My main tip for everyone would be to keep helping each other to grow and to support one another as much as possible.

And to finish up, can you name one other female who inspires you?

My grandmother is a definite role model for me. She came from very humble beginnings in Ireland and worked harder than anyone I know to become a powerful award-winning businesswoman within the nursing care sector, always putting the care of others before herself.


Following on from Hannah, we’ve also sat down this week with Nancy Birch, who was born and raised in Mexico, and is now our Kidderminster-based sales coordinator. Nancy is our newest member of the team – now just two months into her new role.

Nancy Birch scaled 1Hi Nancy. You’re next up in our International Women’s Day series and it’s great to be chatting to you. Could we start with you telling us a little more about what you do here at Minster?

I am only a few months or so into my new role and I am loving it! The main part of my job is to manage sales order and projects internally, making sure they are moving efficiently through the process from start to finish. It means I have to work closely with our clients.

Work-related or personal, what would you say is your biggest achievement to date?

I think that would have to be trekking Nepal’s Annapurna circuit in 26 days. We set off from Pokhara to the Thorong La pass and back, reaching an elevation of 5,416 meters above sea level. At this altitude, there is only half of the oxygen available at sea level. It was a tiring but amazing experience.

International Women’s Day is all about highlighting all achievements by women. But what does it mean to you?

It means an opportunity to celebrate the evolving position of women in society and the powerful impact that our contribution has. It helps to give women a voice and highlights so many amazing people.

And are there any tips you would give to other females which you’ve maybe learned along the way?

I’ve benefited from lots of great insight from fellow women. Mine would be to carve your own future and always be empathetic with others when taking decisions. It goes a long way.

And lastly, are there any females who have inspired you in your life?

This would definitely be my sister. Because when she needed personal help she wasn’t afraid to reach out to the right channels. It takes a lot of courage to show vulnerability and face your demons.


Coming next is another of our hugely inspirational female colleagues, Sue Parkes. Sue is an administrator here at Minster and has been with us for 11 years.

Sue Parkes 1Hi Sue. As one of our longest-serving colleagues, perhaps you can kick us off with an overview of what you do here at Minster?

I am an administrator at our head office in Kidderminster and generally ensure the office is running smoothly and offer any administration support to our operational and technical teams. I’ve been here for over a decade now and can honestly say no two days are ever the same and that’s why I love it.

Can we ask what you are most proud of? Or your biggest achievement to date?

If you had to put me on the spot I’d say I am most proud of my son and his achievements, my two grandchildren and, as I am sure my husband will agree, being married for 42 years.

And what does International Women’s Day mean to you? 

It’s become a great celebration of women with so many things happening, including case studies, media coverage and even companies like us shining a light on the fantastic women who work at Minster. It makes me proud to be a woman.

What would be the one big tip you would give to female colleagues?

Work hard, play hard and live life to the full. It really is too short.

Can you name one other female who inspires you?

Baroness Karren Brady is an inspirational person for what she has achieved in her career. Also my mother-in-law was an inspiration to me – she lived until 92.


Karan Harris

Our next inspiring woman who we’re catching up with for International Women’s Day is our contracts manager, Karan Harris. A hugely popular person in the company, Karan has been with us for over 20 years in a variety of roles.

Karan HarrisHi Karan. Thanks for sitting down with us. Let’s begin with hearing a bit more about what you do in your role at Minster Micro?

Of course! As my title suggests, I am generally responsible for ensuring all the correct governance around our contract renewals, licensing arrangements and also for some of the house accounts.

What are you most proud of in your career or from a personal perspective?

I am proud to have had three lovely children and being able to watch them grow and achieve so much. I’ve loved being around to celebrate their successes with them.

We know you are a big fan of International Women’s Day. Why does it mean so much?

It’s only been in the last century that women have had a voice so to have this day is a huge achievement. It helps us be grateful for all we have and are able to do.

What would you say to a female colleague who is looking for advice?

I’d certainly say that a problem shared is a problem halved. Women are good at talking and sharing their experiences. We must keep talking.

Can you name one other female who inspires you?

Queen Elizabeth. She has been a major influence during her time on how women in the UK can have a family and a career. What an amazing lady and leader she is.


Danielle Laurent

Up next today is Danielle Laurent who is a contract administrator here at Minster. American-born Danielle has been with us for over two years.

Danielle Laurent rotated 1Hi Danielle. Great to have you along. Can we start by asking you to talk us through your role?

Hi, yes no problem. So I am a contract administrator at our head office in Kidderminster. My role is mainly to support our contract manager by preparing contract invoices, setting up templates and tracking Customer Licences. It can be quite varied.

And what would you say is your biggest achievement to-date?

I think that would have to be relocating to the UK from the United States. It was a big decision at the time but I’ve not looked back. It’s a wonderful country with so many opportunities.

What does International Women’s Day mean to you?

It is really is a perfect time to pause and reflect on the achievements of great women through the ages. But it is also a reminder to me that there are amazing women everywhere doing incredible things, every day.

What one big tip would you give to a female colleague?

Follow your own internal compass when making life decisions. It makes a big difference!

And finally, can you name one other female who inspires you?

Michelle Obama. Such an inspiration to so many.


Last but not least in our International Women’s Day series is our finance assistant, Victoria Slinger. Victoria works within our busy finance team and has been part of the business since 2018.

Victoria Slinger rotated e1646730959485Hi Victoria. You are our final female colleague up for interview. Can we start by you telling us more about what you do at Minster Micro?

I’ve been at Minster for four years and I’m a finance assistant. My role entails all aspects of our finance agenda – including credit control, invoice queries and creation, costing reports and updating and managing the Purchase Ledger. It’s a busy and varied role.

And what would you say is your biggest achievement to date?

Apart from my three amazing children, I love to set myself personal challenges. My two most proud ones are completing the London Marathon and I also did The Three Peak Challenge in under 24 hours. Not two events which happen very often but to say I have done them both makes me extremely proud.

As someone who has achieved two amazing feats like that, what does International Women’s Day mean to you?

It’s a day to be proud of how far women have come in the business world and life in general.

What advice would you give to your female friends or colleagues?

It’s fairly simple really – always support and encourage each other.

And the final question to the final person! Which female inspires you to do more?

My nine-year-old daughter. She never has any doubt that she can’t do anything her elder brothers can do.  She doesn’t see herself as a little girl but someone who can have a go at what interests her - be it rock climbing or football.  She has a real thirst for adventures and does what makes her happy.  I wish I had her spirit!


For more on International Women’s Day 2022, you can visit the website through

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