International Women’s Day 2020: Cambridge Assessment embrace being #EachForEqual

Video transcript

Jill Duffy: [00:00:08:18] Hi, I'm Jill Duffy and I'm chief exec of OCR.

Christine Ozden: [00:00:12:23] Hi, I'm Christine Ozden and I'm chief executive of Cambridge International.

Fran Woodward: [00:00:16:10] I am Fran Woodward and I'm chief executive for Cambridge Assessment English. What advice would I give myself if I could go back to when I first started?

Fran Woodward: [00:00:34:17] It's probably a few hairstyles, but I would avoid, that's for sure, but probably do something that you love, something that you really enjoy.

Fran Woodward: [00:00:43:24] I think if you're passionate about something, then you're willing to put the effort in and you'll then progress. Well, and the other thing would be to if you're given opportunities to take on more responsibility or expand your role or to take on special projects, I think I would advise myself to always, always do that, because when I have, it's broadened my skill set and give me the opportunity to progress more speedily.

Christine Ozden: [00:01:24:10] So who or what has been or had the biggest impact on me? You know, I'd actually say that was probably my dad's an interesting, too, to what you said earlier, Fran, was that my dad always encouraged me to do what I loved and what I was good at. And I think that made a big difference. And I think also when I was making key choices in quite formative stages in my life, he encouraged me to look at a wider picture. I look back now and I see that I was making I could have made quite narrow choices. And he encouraged me to really see a wider world. And I really benefited from that. And, you know, my dad was a teacher and deputy head of the local school for me was actually the careers adviser. And I think I think I got my best career advice actually, actually from my dad.

Jill Duffy: [00:02:23:08] I think probably some of the biggest challenges was that I faced as a leader was when I first got into a senior leadership role and became a director sitting on a board. And that was because it coincided with me having my first child, my first baby. So I think what I found very challenging coming into a leadership role was balancing that with also being a first time mom. So that was an awful lot about juggling, about thinking what the priorities were and really about trying to work very smartly. And that had some disadvantages because it meant that I didn't get involved in things like going to the pub after work because I just [00:03:00:00] thought I couldn't do that. But but it also gave me some sort of guidance, if you like, that I then followed on for the rest for when they were growing up. So, for example, I always had this rule that I would decide what meeting or appointment to go to, depending on who I thought would remember the longest that I wasn't there.

Jill Duffy: [00:03:22:12] And actually, children always remember, if you don't turn up for something that's important to them. And I think I only ever missed one parents' evening, but they still remember that to this.

Fran Woodward: [00:03:44:04] I don't know whether there's been a single achievement for me, there's certain things that I'm really proud of. I think the people that I've managed to help develop and see them progress and pursue their career goals and ambitions and the learners that we help achieve their goals and dreams, you know, whether it's progressing to university or getting a great job.

Fran Woodward: [00:04:12:07] So those things make me proud. But then if I if I think of a work related aspect, probably there are a number of projects that are involved with introducing vocational education into certain educational systems. And that was really rewarding because it gave a pathway to learners that otherwise wouldn't have had opportunity, particularly in some countries where academia was seen as the priority. And that's what parents really wanted for their children. And it meant that people who weren't very academic kind of got left behind. And with vocational education, which concentrates more on knowledge, skills and behaviours, it gave people an opportunity to learn [00:05:00:00] in a different way and also show what they could do. So I'm proud of doing that. It's teamwork. I work with a great team, but we did that in Kazakhstan, Malta, Maldives and Brunei.

Christine Ozden: [00:05:15:21] And for me, the the greatest career achievement, I mean, like Fran, again, I don't tend to think of sort of one specific thing. I tend to think about periods, periods through my career and certainly periods in my career where as a team or as a as within a department or within a business unit where you feel you've really come together and you really want the same things and achieve something together. I think those are times where I felt very satisfied within my career. I think if I you know, if I tried to think of something maybe more specific, I would I do actually think about work that I did in Saudi Arabia, where I was able to set up a wholly owned trading entity for the organisation that I work for. And that [00:06:00:00] was the first one ever established by a certainly a UK based education organisation in Saudi Arabia and a much wider than that. And so I felt fantastic to be able to to do that. But really, that was in the context then that we were able, through that entity to provide educational services for what it was, was professional development for maths and science. Female teachers in Saudi Arabia saw through that. And you were able really to to roll out a multi-year programme of professional development for maths and maths and science teachers in Saudi Arabia. So that sticks with me.

Jill Duffy: [00:06:37:00] Hmm. Yeah. For me, I think I said it's probably not just one thing, but I think that, you know, the excitement that comes of building a team, I mean, you mentioned vocational. I can remember working with a team and building a vocational business with that team. And what was great about that was growing the team, getting them to have the confidence and actually seeing that business grow very rapidly. And I think that sort of thing, I find it exciting, my career. And also, you know, I am incredibly proud to be the first female chief exec of OCR and to work with a brilliant team. I've got in OCR again to build that team and to help that team succeed.

Christine Ozden: [00:07:23:04] So what what can we be doing to help create a gender equal world, I think maybe if I think from an individual point of view, I think that we can become more aware about biases and balance and, you know, some of the unconscious ones. So I think it's about raising our awareness and calling those things out. I think there's also how can we think of practical incentives to get that better balance? Those are the things on my mind.

Fran Woodward: [00:07:53:23] And if I think about helping females progress into leadership positions and making sure that everybody has an opportunity to break through that glass ceiling, I think we need to be much more flexible in how we approach working patterns and working styles. I think there's a lot out there for women to work much more flexibly.

Fran Woodward: [00:08:21:05] But I'm currently going through a process of of my husband has had to step back from his role so I can do the job I do. And I'm having an amazing time.

Fran Woodward: [00:08:32:11] It's absolutely brilliant. But he's finding it a challenge to be kind of the the the caregiver and find work that is flexible enough for him to still be motivated and still be able to work and and be fulfilled. So we're finding that a bit of a challenge because organisations are not as open to males working flexibly as they are for females.

Jill Duffy: [00:08:57:09] Yeah, and I think a society [00:09:00:00] as Cambridge Assessment, we we have a real responsibility actually to to make sure that the qualifications we develop and the assessments that we deliver are very much promoting diversity and equality and making sure that we're representing, you know, really positive role models. And we're not biasing in our assessments so that they are equal to all and have that diversity within them. And I think that's a responsibility that we have very much as Cambridge assessment.

Return to top

Cambridge Assessment employees and the Corporate Board have been taking part in a week of celebrations ahead of International Women’s Day on Sunday 8 March 2020.

Throughout the week, Cambridge Assessment has been celebrating the women that work for the organisation in a number of ways.

Two sponsors of Cambridge Assessment’s Women in Leadership staff network, Jill Duffy (CEO of OCR) and Fran Woodward (CEO of Cambridge Assessment English) were joined by fellow female senior leader, Christine Özden (CEO of Cambridge International Assessment Education), to discuss their inspirations, challenges they have faced in their careers and how a gender equal society could be created.

Employees globally participated by sharing photos using the #EachForEqual gesture to promote gender equality. Female employees have also been celebrated throughout the week by having their photograph, job title and a fact about themselves shared both around the organisation and externally on social media to showcase and amplify the incredible women working at Cambridge Assessment.

The week culminated in a short celebration at Triangle, Cambridge Assessment’s global headquarters, where staff got together to commemorate the day with purple balloons and cakes with purple icing, highlighting the colour of International Women’s Day.

Cambridge Assessment Corporate Board

Photo: The Corporate Board demonstrating the #EachforEqual gesture during a meeting at Cambridge Assessment's Coventry office

Research Matters

Research Matters is our free biannual publication which allows us to share our assessment research, in a range of fields, with the wider assessment community.

Research Matters 32 promo image

Media contacts

Contact our press and Public Affairs office

Tel:  +44 (0)1223 556018