The founder of Lean In Belfast is hoping to meet the Chief Operating Officer of Facebook Sheryl Sandberg when she visits the social networking website headquarters in California next week.

Belfast businesswoman Nuala Murphy, who founded the local branch of the movement which aims to help inspire and support women to achieve their goals, has been invited to attend Lean In’s Regional Leaders Conference which runs from this Friday to Sunday ( 12 to 14 August).  Sessions with around 40 regional leaders from around the world will also take place at the prestigious Stanford University.

Lean In groups have been set up all over the world to encourage women to pursue their ambitions, following the publication of the bestselling book of the same name by Sheryl Sandberg in 2013.

The movement is based on the premise that if we can talk openly about the challenges women face and work together, we can change the trajectory of women and create a better world for everyone.

Lean in Belfast, which was set up in early 2015, now has over 350 members who meet through organised events and through social media to encourage and support each other in their achievement of goals. Nuala and her fellow founding members felt that a source of community and support was lacking in Northern Ireland and the Chapter, the name given to a local Lean In group, works to break down many of the traditional barriers faced here.

Members come from a diverse range of backgrounds including start-up businesses, law, medicine, marketing, construction, property, and digital as well as the charity sector.

Nuala said: “Attending this conference is the opportunity of a lifetime both for me personally and for Lean In Belfast. I’m looking forward to being inspired by San Francisco and all is has to offer. Being hosted by Facebook and Stanford University and being able to learn from such talented speakers really is a dream come true.

“I’ll be networking with corporate and community leaders from all corners of the globe and learning how they are pushing the boundaries in a positive way to encourage gender equality across all industries, as well as offering women, and men, the peer support they need to advance and grow.

“I want to share how far the Belfast chapter has come in such a short time, creating a support network where we help each other achieve our goals, as well as our plans for the future which includes launching the wider Lean In Ireland chapter.”

Nuala said that she had been greatly inspired by the work of Lean In founders Sheryl Sandberg and Gina Bianchini in supporting other women.

“Sheryl Sandberg is a person I admire. She is a supreme businesswoman, instrumental in the success of Facebook over past eight years as the company’s Chief Operating Officer and the first female board member elected in 2012. I also admire how she uses her position of influence to call out gender inequality in the workplace and through the team at the Lean In Foundation offers strategies to organisations and individuals on how to make a change. Her belief is that it’s not only the right thing to do but it’s good for business and the economy too.

“The Lean In Foundation is committed to supporting leaders forming circles and chapters all over the world and as a thank you to regional leaders who run the largest networks, is covering all costs and 50% of our plane fares. For a start-up business person like me it’s a real golden opportunity not to be missed.”

From a personal point of view Nuala is hoping to connect with individuals to help take forward her female heath tech venture Happy Mummy, Happy Baby, an app to help women with perinatal depression and anxiety.

You can find out more at leanincircles.org/circle/lean-in–stand-up–belfast

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