08 March 2022

Read: Being a female in a senior position

Board member Bella Lewis-Smith smiling and a quote used in the article

As part of our We Mean Business campaign launch, and in celebration International Women’s Day 2022, we invited three of our board members to share their insights on being a woman in a senior business position and what message they have for other women considering or starting a career.

Women on our Board have extensive skills and experience in a wide range of industry sectors such as hospitality, house-building, commercial property, brand marketing, digital apps and medical technology.

Between them, they also contribute essential insight and expertise from having applied their skills to lead or support charitable, environmental, educational and community projects and initiatives.    

“We bring something different to business in terms of collaboration, ideas and making things happen,” says Sara Uzzell, whose career background includes top-level marketing, IT and hotel management as well as a key part in the development of Dorset's Local Industrial Strategy. Now in a commercial role with the National Trust, Sara says: “It’s important that we positively highlight women’s achievements and successes.”

Sara’s thoughts are echoed by two Board colleagues who have achieved success in the fast-moving world of digital marketing, both at multi-award-winning agencies.

Arabella Lewis-Smith is the founder and Managing Director of branding and digital studio Salad Creative, while Sophia ‘Puff’ Story is Director at mobile app company 3 Sided Cube.

A graduate of the London College of Fashion, Arabella also founded and is MD of the luxury skincare retailer Pasture Naturals.

Arabella is ideally placed to inspire. Her career successes have led to her becoming a guest lecturer in business at Bournemouth University, Arts University Bournemouth and Bath Spa University. She is also a member of the female business owners’ support organisation Enterprising Women and has been a mentor for Young Enterprise.

“I aspire to use my position as a role model to create an environment that empowers the next generation of female agency leaders,” says Arabella.

In her role at 3 Sided Cube, Sophia collaborates with companies and organisations of all sizes from start-ups to established international brands. She is a graduate in Advertising and Marketing Communications from Bournemouth University and has worked on the advisory panel for the International Fundraising Congress which supports professional charity fundraisers across the world. 

By her own description, Sophia is fiercely passionate about helping to encourage more women to get into tech careers.

“For me personally, this starts at a very young age,” she says. “As a mother of two daughters, I can’t stress enough how valuable it is to inspire them to do anything they set their heart on. Celebrating courageous, bold, ambitious women is so important. Now, more than ever there are so many more female role models and it’s important we publicly celebrate them and showcase the successes to children in school to help inspire the next generation.  The gap between education and industry at times feels like it widens, especially in the tech sector which is so fast-paced. So for me, we need to invest in that gap and bring the industry closer to education to ensure we inspire more diversity in certain sectors.  By publicly showcasing these role models we should be able to shift the needle in a few years. It will take time, but it will be so worth the investment.”

Asked what it is like for women to do business in Dorset right now, Sophia is quick to speak from her own first-hand experience:

“I’ve been fortunate enough to work in a few places now, but when I relocated back to Dorset I managed to achieve a better quality of life, not only for myself but my family too. I love Dorset, and I love what I do, and combining those was a milestone in my working career. Being a woman in tech can be interesting at times, but the business community in Dorset is fully supportive and encouraging.” 

We also asked what advances or opportunities our Board members envisage for women in business over the next five to ten years.

“More seats at the table,” was the immediate response from Sophia. “I think naturally all businesses will be looking and assessing diversity as a priority over the next few years. Diversity is crucial to get to the best possible outcome.  You need diversity to boost performance internally, stay relevant and competitive. I think the result of this will be more women on boards and in senior positions or starting their own businesses. There will be more senior opportunities open, and with that, we should be grabbing those opportunities with both hands to inspire the next generation.  This will help change attitudes and behaviours.”

Summarising her advice for any women thinking of a career in Dorset’s key business sectors, Sophia adds: “Go and chat with the business or team you’re interested in. You’ll quickly see what an incredibly supportive, nurturing environment it is. There’s a close business community spirit in Dorset and while I may be biased, I’m incredibly appreciative and proud.”

We sincerely thank Sophia, Arabella and Sara for sharing their thoughts.

Energised by our involvement in #IWD2022 we invite you to share your thoughts on the experience of being a woman in business, what more you think needs to be done to inspire future generations and what your advice is to any woman considering, starting or progressing their careers.  We would love you to join us in this campaign, called We Mean Business, by using the hashtag #WMBDorset. 


  • Dorset LEP has also been celebrating International Women’s Day by hosting the event Women Entrepreneurs Mean Business, a showcase of some of Dorset’s brightest female-led businesses. In partnership with Bournemouth University and BCP Council, we coordinated a series of presentations and were on hand to discuss the funding opportunities and wider business support on offer to new and growing businesses. This includes Dorset Growth Hub’s range of training, workshops and small grants as well as a new grant programme funded by NatWest, part of the bank’s longstanding commitment in supporting female enterprise. For more information on Women Entrepreneurs Mean Business, visit https://eventpilot.evolutive.co.uk/eventDetails.aspx?siteId=499&eventNo=56205


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