Meet Ciara Fitzgerald, Programme Lead for Fuelling Ambition
Meet Ciara Fitzgerald, an Innovation Advisor at Newable and Lead for Diversity &; Inclusion. Ciara leads our Fuelling Ambition programme, supporting female entrepreneurs at every stage from inspiration to investment.
Ciara works as a Key Account Manager for London-based awardees of the SME Instrument. The SME Instrument is a sub programme of Horizon 2020, the biggest EU Research and Innovation programme delivered by the European Commission to drive economic growth and create jobs. The SME Instrument helps high-potential SMEs to develop ground breaking innovative ideas for products, services or processes that are ready to face global market competition.
Ciara delivers the Enterprise Europe Network (EEN) services. The EEN is the world’s largest support network for SMEs which helps businesses innovate and grow on an international scale.
She also delivers the Innovate2Succeed programme to SMEs in London, which is a fully-funded tailored support programme for ambitious companies who want to unlock their innovation management potential.
Finally, Ciara leads on our Fuelling Ambition initiative which offers tailored support and events to help improve the competitiveness of female-led SMEs and help them maximise the full potential of female entrepreneurs.
What motivates you when going to work every day?
I love working across a number of different initiatives as part of my job. I get to meet inspiring entrepreneurs from different sectors, all facing unique challenges, and support them with their individual business needs.
The best part is that we can work on a one to one basis, so my advice is always tailored to their individual needs. Helping the client take that next step on their entrepreneurial journey is very rewarding!
According to you, what skills are important to be successful as an Innovation Adviser?
I definitely think you need to have strong communication skills. To be a good listener is key, it’s important for me to really build a strong relationship with each client.
Another key skill, in my opinion, is to be a skilful networker so you can build professional relationships as well as identifying opportunities for your clients.
Finally, I spend a lot of time in my role presenting to large audiences at conferences and events we organise at Newable to help fuel ambition.
What is your main field of expertise?
I am a Certified Management Consultant and have years of experience working with SMEs to help them enhance their innovation capacity, commercialise and internationalise.
What fuels your ambition?
My passion is helping businesses evolve and grow under my guidance. It’s such a motivating job to do, when you know you can have a real impact on the business you are working with. It helps you put the extra hours in and go the extra mile when you can clearly see the impact you are having.
In addition, whilst I have been at Newable now for 3 years, I’m still learning with every client I work with. So being able to grow personally, and challenge myself every day, helps me stay motivated.
Tell us about a project or accomplishment that you consider the most significant in your career.
I’ve worked on many different projects in Ireland from sitting on the steering committee for an International Business Networking forum, project managing trade missions, project managing the delivery of a grant scheme to helping companies secure funding and finance.
But since moving to London, I think my biggest accomplishment absolutely hands down has to be developing our Fuelling Ambition initiative and holding a very successful conference last year. I cannot wait to deliver more on this initiative!
What needs to change in society in order to achieve complete gender equality?
In today’s society, there should be no more barriers limiting women’s opportunities.
There needs to be more awareness on promoting best practices within companies to tackle gender equality and a focus on improving careers for girls and women owned businesses.
As part of this, as a society, we need to continue to empower women and promote the amazing success stories of women in innovation every day. That’s where fuelling ambition is unique to other initiatives as we aim to provide female entrepreneurs with a network of support to help tackle the top barriers, but also celebrate the success we see every day.
Who would you name as your female role model?
Personally, this is a hard question for me to answer. I have many female role models that I respect and look up to.
Some from politics, the music industry, fashion industry even sport but all in all each one has characteristics and traits that I admire. Perhaps, rather than having one role model, we can look to celebrate individual qualities in each female entrepreneur that we can all admire.
Do you think women approach innovation differently than men?
In my experience, women have many other factors to take into consideration when approaching innovation compared to men.
However, if we can limit the barriers that women face and provide the support and guidance needed I believe that there is a vast amount of potential waiting to be unleashed in the U.K.