Last week, Smart Works proudly hosted our first ever UK-wide Client Event. To celebrate 10 years of supporting women into work, we invited all former clients in our community to join us for a virtual in-conversation event with CEO Kate Stephens and special guest Michelle Ackerley, Smart Works Greater Manchester Ambassador.

The event served as a powerful moment of connection and inspiration, with our clients at the heart. We heard from clients across our 11 centres about what Smart Works has meant to them, insight we will use to inform our decision-making. When speaking about her own Smart Works experience, Michelle spoke about the sense of community and how “the opportunity to bring people together and see firsthand the incredible work Smart Works does and continues to do – it fills me up. To be a part of it in any way is just fantastic.”

During the event, Michelle shared stories from her successful television career. From her first interview for a work experience placement at the BBC, to navigating the competitive world of production and presenting, she highlighted the role that clothing has played in making her feel confident, comfortable and powerful. Michelle explained how with an ‘armour of preparation’, she is surprisingly her ‘most present, most focused and most streamlined’ when presenting live TV – much like the experience of a job interview.

At Smart Works, our mission is to empower all women who need support in getting into work, and Michelle’s message to our clients about uplifting those around you perfectly aligns with our mission and values. It was truly inspiring to hear how Michelle finds her inner confidence and embraces opportunities that ‘bring her joy or challenge her’, whilst encouraging our clients to find their supporters and be kind to themselves.

Michelle’s journey of hard work and determination resonated with us all, underlining the power of openness, self-belief and finding the positive in each day. Thank you so much to Michelle for her ongoing support and for leading such a brilliant conversation for our client community.