Events archive 2008-2009

Oxford Business Alumni, Deutsche Bank
26 November 2009

Kate Grussing was a panelist at the Oxford Business Alumni’s Thoughtful Thursday session entitled Inspiring Women in Business.   The discussion focused on new opportunities for women in business.  It is said that the financial crisis has created new opportunities for women to enter and rise in the male-dominated business world. How have HR, governance and perceptions towards women in business changed? What do the changes mean to both women and men?

Red Magazine

We are thrilled to announce that Kate Grussing, Sapphire’s founder and Managing Director, has won an award from Red Magazine for her work at Sapphire as a mentor.  The award ceremony was on 3 November and is featured in the December 2009 issue of Red.  The judges made special mention of the pioneering nature of Sapphire’s business championing corporate flexibility and promoting the potential of women.  Her write up can be found at the following link.

There's a video too (Kate starts at 8:30): Click Here for video.

26 October 2009

Kate Grussing was one of the guest speakers at this European Professional Women’s Network ground braking event on how to make a successful career break.  Other speakers were Angela Knight CBE, of British Bankers’ Association, Rob Williams of Fatherhood Institute, Cranfield’s Deirdre Anderson while Philip Hampsheir moderated the evening.

We are very pleased that Kate Grussing has recently been named as a winner in the TIAW (The International Alliance for Women) World of Difference 100 Awards for 2009

The TIAW World of Difference Award recognises women whose efforts have advanced the economic empowerment of women locally, regionally or worldwide. Kate’s award was in the Corporate and Entrepreneurial Community categories and was only one of three winners from the UK.

For further reading, click here

15 October 2009 at Interbrand, 85 Strand
Career Cross Roads: To Break Or Not To Break

Kate Grussing was a guest speaker at this European Professional Women’s Network event on how to make a successful career break.  Other speakers were Angela Knight CBE, of British Bankers’ Association, Rob Williams of Fatherhood Institute, Cranfield’s Deirdre Anderson while Philip Hampsheir moderated the evening.
Please click here more information

Dress for Success

Dress for Success
Tuesday, 6 October at Harvey Nichols

Sapphire is passionate about supporting Dress for Success, a charity which promotes the economic independence of disadvantaged women by giving them confidence through coaching and ‘recycled’ business clothes.

A private shopping evening was held on Tuesday, 6 October at Harvey Nichols, Knightsbridge in aid of Dress for Success.

Forum UK

Making a Difference - Leading in a Recession
Wednesday, 24 June 2009, Guildhall

Forum UK put together an impressive panel to discuss the role that women play in the economy and its turnaround.  Kate Grussing, along with Eileen Glynn (Ernst & Young),  Marisa Drew (Credit Suisse) and Ellen Miller (LBS) discussed Ernst & Young’s ‘Groundbreakers’ report. 

Click here for further information

Sapphire Partners

Survey Results: despite the economic downturn, the future for women professionals and flexible working arrangements is promising
13 May 2009

Sapphire Partners recently launched an online survey to explore the impact of the economic downturn on professional women, diversity initiatives and flexible working. The results were surprisingly promising:

  • The outlook for women professionals and flexible working arrangements is very encouraging.
  • The smartest companies will be investing in flexible working and leveraging their senior female talent more than ever before.
London Business School

For Anyone Tempted By the Thought of a Building a Portfolio Career
Wednesday 13 May 2009

Kate Grussing put together an impressive panel to discuss The Dos and Don’ts of Pursuing a Portfolio Career which was held at LBS.  The panelists shared their experience of portfolio working and their top tips to make a successful transition.
Most senior professionals have historically pursued a relatively traditional career route climbing the ladder in corporates, banks, or consultancies. But what other options are there? At what stage of a career is a portfolio career most realistic? What are the tradeoffs and challenges of building a portfolio? And given the state of the job market, is now the perfect time or the worst time?

Pursuing a portfolio career in business circles has become sexy. It is definitely more commonplace, from those who no longer want to work 24/7, to those who want to combine work with interests in other business opportunities or not-for-profits as well as personal interests outside the workplace.

The Law Society
Sapphire Partners

Career Crossroads Workshop - Planning Your Next Chapter
29 April 2009

Sapphire Partners was pleased to have been asked to organise the pilot Law Society Career Crossroads workshop, aimed at senior lawyers contemplating a career transition within or outside of the profession.

The workshop was followed by networking drinks.

Alliance Bernstein

11 March 2009

Kate Grussing led a session on ‘Career Adaptation’ at this event entitled ‘Make It Work: a career workshop for women affected by downsizing’.  It was aimed at mid-level to senior professional women who have been affected by corporate downsizing or restructuring.  The day was run by Rotman School of Management, in partnership with City Women’s Network and AllianceBernstein. 

Click here for more information, or visit

London Business School
Women in Business

Women in Business Conference 
Beyond Ideas: Making Global Impact
6 March 2009

Kate Grussing spoke at the ninth annual London Business School Women in Business Club conference, Beyond Ideas: Making Global Impact, which addressed what impact women are making in local and global marketplaces and how they are making it. The conference profiled influential women leaders and provided key takeaways on how participants may make greater impact in their respective countries and business environments.

Kate spoke on Charting Your Course: Career Navigation.

Working Families
Sapphire Partners

Flexible Working Seminar
30 January 2009

The ‘Flexible Working: Myths and Realities’ Breakfast seminar, hosted by Rosenblatt solicitors, addressed many topical issues for employers surrounding flexible working and how it is affected by the current economic downturn.  Speakers included Sarah Jackson of Working Families, David Wilson of BT, and Rima Mehay of Rosenblatt.  Kate Grussing  dispelled some of the more popular myths surrounding flexible working and shared some top tips on how to improve the success of working flexibly in business. A lively discussion ensued.

Department for Business Enterprise & Regulatory Reform (BERR)
24 November 2008

As part of the Equalities Month Programme being run by this government department, Kate Grussing was invited to speak on the importance of networking in achieving and maintaining a successful career at the top.  The talk was aimed at women across government departments

Ernst & Young

Ernst & Young - Back to practice
3 October 2008

Sapphire Partners worked with Ernst & Young on an innovative programme that was launched on 3 October 2008 called Back to practice.

Research tells us it can be difficult for women to re-enter the workforce after a career break. As part of their Gender Strategy, Ernst & Young want to ensure that they are recognised as leading the way in supporting and encouraging women back into professional services.

Through this initiative Ernst & Young aim to support women who are returning to work after a career break. They will be doing this by creating a channel of communication which will give women access to roles that will acknowledge and value their previous skills and experience, thus helping them to achieve their potential.

Ernst & Young held the first event of its kind in professional services on 3 October 2008 in London where women were able to network, hear about changes affecting professional services and discuss the practical implications of returning to work.

This event was aimed at women who:

  • Have been on a career break for at least three years
  • Have gained a minimum of five years’ experience in the professional services industry, broadly defined, before taking a break
  • Are interested in exploring opportunities to return to professional services
Goldman Sachs

How to make Flexible Working Work,
Wednesday 1 October, 2008

Sapphire Partners organised and moderated a stimulating discussion on flexible working by a panel of INSEAD alumni who work flexibly across a wide range of sectors and roles at an event kindly hosted by Goldman Sachs. This highly topical subject is very relevant in the current environment.

Key themes and advice emerged from the evening:

  • There are different, equally legitimate motivations for working flexibly. The panellists’ own reasons included:
    • dissatisfaction with corporate life
    • setting up a new business
    • a desire to spend more time with family
    • the decision to have a better work/life balance
  • It is not just an issue for women with children!
  • There are clear benefits of flexible working, both for employer and employee, including:
    • retention of talent
    • coverage to enable a 24/7 service
    • motivation of employees, leading to more productivity whilst working
    • work/life balance
  • There are, however, also disadvantages for the employee:
    • financial implications
    • possible effect on career progression
    • working along other part –timers can change the environment
  • The main advice offered by the panellists can be summarised:
    • Be confident and go for it – you have one life!
    • Be flexible
    • Communicate well and ensure people know what you are contributing
    • Enlist the support of a senior person within the organisation
    • Be realistic and pragmatic

It was encouraging that each of the panel was happy with their decision to work flexibly. It can, and will increasingly, be done successfully.


Narrowing the Gap 2008 Conference,
29 September 2008

The Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales.

In today’s uncertain market, skilled finance professionals remain in high demand and the competition for them is intensifying both on a national and global scale. In the UK and across the EU, women represent a large slice of this talent pool and are becoming central to meeting the combined challenges of an ageing workforce, falling birth rates and a skills shortage.

Studies show that to attract and retain female talent, it is vital to meet employee expectations regarding career progression and work-life balance. Additionally, with the proposed Equalities Bill on the horizon, the issue of recruiting and retaining top female employees is ever more pertinent.

Princes Trust
start a chain reaction

Glass Ceilings or Sticky Floors? What will it take to unlock the UK’s female potential?
Sapphire Partners, Withers and The Prince’s Trust,
11 September 2008

Despite more than a decade of warnings about the lack of representation in the top jobs, women take up just 8.5 per cent of seats in corporate boardrooms in Europe’s largest 300 companies. Far from powering through the glass ceiling, the economic and professional progress of women has been such that it will take until 2065 for the number of female board members to reach parity. But is it legislation, culture, or women themselves that holds women back?

To progress the debate on women’s unrealised economic potential, The Prince's Trust Women’s Leadership Group organised a ‘Question Time’ event generously hosted by Withers LLP in their Old Bailey office with the support of Sapphire Partners. The event was by invitation only and brought together a panel of distinguished leaders from the worlds of politics, business, media, academia and law in order to stimulate discussion regarding the progress of women into leadership roles with an audience of their peers.

Herbert Smith

Herbert Smith Back to Practice,
15 September 2008

Sapphire Partners were pleased to work with Herbert Smith on a 'back to practice' workshop on Monday 15 September at Herbert Smith’s London offices. The event was open to both lawyers and support professionals, including those in HR, IT and business and professional support. It was an opportunity for experienced professionals who have had a career break but are considering a return to work, or those thinking of changing roles to allow them to work more flexibly, to find out more about the opportunities available at Herbert Smith.

Time to retune

Launch of ‘Work Re-Tune’
Wednesday 18 June 2008

Work Re-tune is a free online tool developed by Working Families and Sapphire Partners, and funded by the Department of Communities and Local Government. As a career-focused individual there may be times when you want to adjust or review your working arrangements without radically changing roles or jobs. Work Re-tune helps you analyse your situation and create a robust plan which works for you. The tool harnesses the power of flexible working and will also help today’s global employers meet the challenges of placing senior professionals in today’s strong and highly competitive markets.

University of Chicago GSB

How to make flexible working work at University of Chicago’s Graduate School of Business: A panel of senior women working flexibly,
6 May 2008

Senior managers from around London came to the University of Chicago’s Graduate School of Business were given great insights by four women who hold senior professional positions while working flexibly. The panellists were very positive about the enormous benefits for their firms and their careers due to the ability to work flexibly. The key themes and advice from the evening:

  • Be realistic – selling the idea to your boss/team/firm requires an honest assessment of the role and a commitment to succeed so all parties benefit. 
  • Communication is key! There are times you are over extended at work and at home. Recognise it, reflect on what needs to change and communicate to those around you.
  • Be brave and confident and those around you will follow. A small percentage of people who want to work flexibly get refused if they have done their groundwork.
  • Be flexible in your approach to home and work – reaping the benefits of the arrangement also requires a willingness, at times, to bend to the time constraints of work and family.  Also consider working flexibly on a “trial basis”, eg for a 3 or 6 month period to prove it works.
  • Flexibility works with the right firm and right manager. If you are unsuccessful at your first attempt, evaluate the role and the firm’s commitment to helping you succeed. Finding the right fit may require moving to a new department or firm that values your output vs. input

This event once again highlighted the incredible interest in working flexibly at a senior level. While great strides are being made, more prominent role models like our panellists are needed. Their advice will help the next generation of leaders successfully integrate work and life.

University of Chicago GSB

Book Launch: Why Women Mean Business
14 March 2008

Why Women Mean Business

Sapphire Partners were delighted to host a special networking breakfast and talk given by Alison Maitland and Avivah Wittenberg-Cox, co-authors of a revolutionary new book ‘Why Women Mean Business’. The book presents compelling research and arguments for why women in business became the solution, not the problem.

Kate Grussing, the Managing Director of Sapphire, has known Alison for years and her writings have inspired the groundbreaking work at Sapphire. Sapphire’s unique talent pool is evidence of the high quality senior women whom enlightened companies are trying to attract.

Why Women Mean Business’ is published by John Wiley and Sons.

London Business School

London Business School Women’s Alumnae Network Event
How to make flexible working work’
31 January 2008

A panel of successful women managing to work flexibly moderated by Kate Grussing of Sapphire Partners

It was standing room only at London Business School as executives from around London came to hear tips and stories from four senior women who have risen through the ranks while working flexibly. Kate Grussing, Managing Director and Founder of Sapphire Partners, moderated the panel.

Some advice recurred throughout the evening:

  • Be pragmatic and realistic – can your job be done flexibly? If not, can you propose an alternative?
  • Communication, communication, communication! There are times you may feel over-stretched. Communicate these needs to those around you.
  • Be confident in what you need, and those around you will follow your lead.
  • Your flexibility needs will evolve. Build a plan that works for you over the long term, but keep it flexible.
  • Make peace with your decisions and yourself. Live in the present and the possible.

As the demand for flexible working marches on, it is important to remember how far we have come in a short time and how so many people are successfully integrating work with their lives.

Goldman Sachs

Goldman Sachs New Directions: The Next Step in Your Career event
15 January 2008

Sapphire Partners is working with Goldman Sachs on this one day professional development programme aimed at providing guidance on how to successfully transition back into the workforce after a career break. The programme will include a market update from one of Goldman Sachs’s chief economic strategists, a senior level career coaching workshop, and a panel discussion with Goldman Sachs professionals who successfully balance their careers and families.

Please contact us at for more information.