IWD 2023: Women who inspire Earnest

Woman jumping in the air holding an umbrella, in front of a wall of yellow-painted wooden slats.

IWD 2023: Women who inspire Earnest

For International Women's Day, we asked the team: if you could choose any woman – from history, modern life, movies, literature, myth, whatever you like – to be your life coach, who would it be and why?

Here’s what they said:

Penny Parkes, Managing Director

My friend Sally Keane, as I totally admire her (I don’t think she knows this) and if I could achieve just a little of what she has I would feel like I’m succeeding.

She has rocked some very senior positions at Linkedin and Spotify. She has been a dedicated member of Bloom and really supports women and getting the conversations started whether it’s about going through IVF to start a family and suffering a miscarriage, to talking about menopause and women in work.

She oozes confidence and is happy to stand on stage and present or run a panel (something that terrifies me). She is no-nonsense and goes after her ambitions whilst supporting everyone around her.

She swears by her Peloton bike to keep her mind and body fit and healthy.

And whilst achieving all this she has also brought up two polite, respectful, funny, and engaging little girls, and is married to an absolute dude.

Finally, she has the coolest dress sense of all the people I know.


Sally Keane
Sally Keane

Ollie Williams, Digital Producer

I’d go for Sophie Calle. I think she could teach a lot about observation, interpretation and motivation, based on the works she’s made.

Sophie Calle
Sophie Calle

Jen Law, Strategist

Joanna Lumley, darling. She’s intelligent, charismatic and absolutely hilarious. Her career is inspiring as is her charitable and activism work.

Joanna Lumley
Joanna Lumley

Will Webster, Senior Creative

Grace Jones. We’d chat about her time at Paradise Garage until she gets bored and tells me to eff-off and get to the point. Then I’d ask her the way to a woman’s heart, and she’d say something like “Darling, the heart is just the beat of the drum. It’s the rest of her that makes the music,” before blowing fag smoke in my face and wafting onto a stage to the opening bars of ‘Slave to the Rhythm’.

And she lives in Putney, so it’s technically possible…

Grace Jones
Grace Jones

Ali Brushfield, Creative Director

I think Philippa Perry is a wise woman, I would choose her.

Phillipa Perry
Philipa Perry

Jack Stacey, Content Writer

Hazel Scott. An exceptionally talented jazz piano player who was also a pioneering civil rights activist and an excellent actor who fought hard for more representation from black women in film (beyond the stereotypical roles always given).

Not many people have heard of her because her career got squashed by moronic McCarthyist censorship laws, after testifying in congress against them. A really good example of someone who kept to their beliefs no matter what was thrown at her.

She could also play two pianos at once:

Rachel Fellows, Digital Campaigns Strategist

I’d choose Karren Brady. She’d be amazing.

Karren Brady
Karren Brady

George Sanders, Business Director

My ideal mentor would be Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. In a world of cruel and strange masculinity, she’s stood up to considerable powers with a grace, wisdom and humour that’s refreshing in US politics.

She fights for the disenfranchised and with a very humble background, is hopefully becoming a role model for young people – not just women – who have a genuine desire to change the world for the better.

Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez
Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez

Bea Alabaster, Junior Strategist

I think the best life coaches are those who have been through the wringer and come out the other side – those with wisdom, realism and empathy, who are with you for life’s knocks as much as the victories. And that’s why I’d want a life coach like Monica Lewinsky.

Here is a woman who went from being a promising White House intern to a global punchline overnight.

Monica has endured some of the very worst things our society has to offer: she’s been a victim of patriarchal political power and the misogynistic global media, and an object of slut shaming, body shaming, scapegoating and ridicule, with zero regard given for her feelings, intellect or fundamental humanity.

But still she has carried on. After a decade of silence, she has worked to regain her agency and voice through her anti-bullying campaign and public speaking.

I’d kill for even a slice of her immense bravery, resilience and – above all – her sense of humour. Talk about a comeback, Monica.

Monica Lewinsky
Monica Lewinsky

David Gyertson, Head of Digital

Kate Bush. I think she nails being your own person, and work-life balance.

Kate Bush
Kate Bush

Nic Ferrero, Head of Operations

Michelle Obama would be a pretty good mentor/coach (she was fairly successful with her other half).

Michelle Obama
Michelle Obama

Matt Kilgour, Head of Creative Strategy

Nina Simone. Creatively excellent in all things, deeply caring and took no shit from anyone.

Ollie Belt, Client Manager

Miriam Margolyes. She’s a brilliant person.

Miriam Margolyes
Miriam Margolyes

Stef Kraft, Senior Designer

Vanessa. Not famous or historic in any way. She came from Germany to study design in Vienna. She was always funny in her ‘German-ness’, and we became really close friends.

She was like a big sister to me, offering relationship advice. We’d often go out both with broken hearts, and help each other get back on our feet. She was instrumental in introducing me to a friend of hers to get a job in Frankfurt after college, who eventually introduced me to someone for a job in London. Vanessa also ended up studying in London, and we ended up in a flat-share. After a few years, she moved back to Germany, but we would often chat on the phone.

A few years later I got a call from our mutual friend in Frankfurt, who told me that she had died of a brain tumour, leaving an 8-year-old daughter behind. Not a week goes by that I do not think of her, and how she helped me to get to where I am now.


(Header photo: Edu Lauton on Unsplash)




Inspiration International Women's Day


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Steve Spicer


I'm a Copywriter in Earnest's Creative department. This means my job is to make ordinary, everyday words sing, dance, and – most importantly – sell.