The 2014 Annual Lecture took place on 4th November 2014, given by Ruby McGregor-Smith, CEO of Mitie Group PLC, speaking on Women in Leadership: Breaking Down Barriers. This marked the fifth lecture hosted by the National Centre for Universities and Business at the Royal Institute of Great Britain.

Ruby McGregor-Smith highlighted the numerous barriers to leadership positions currently faced by women in the work place and offered advice to those from the business and academic sectors on how to challenge and overcome them.The former Financial Director challenged the need for more diversity in the work place and highlighted the struggles faced not only by women but those with disabilities also. Being CEO of a FTSE 250 company, Ruby explained the factors that personally inspired and shaped her route to success which included flexible working and colleagues who personally believed in her.

Towards the end of the lecture, an interactive question and answer session took place in which Ruby took time to give detailed answers to the range of areas covered.

We asked a few guests from the evening to share their thoughts on the lecture and the event as a whole. 


“Today is the first NCUB event that I have attended and I found Ruby’s lecture very inspirational. It has encouraged me to believe in myself more and that I can progress further within Cisco. It was interesting to hear her thoughts on flexible working and being a mother as it is something I will be thinking about in the future so it was great to hear a woman’s perspective. I don’t know any female CEO’s so it was refreshing to hear her speak. I also found the question and answer session very interesting. This evening was a very senior event and it’s great to have been given the opportunity to come and network.”

Toni Piper
Apprentice, Cisco


“I found this year’s lecture interesting particularly because Ruby highlighted other barriers to leadership such as race, disabilities, being a parent and looking after elderly relatives. The guests today are incredibly high level and it’s great to be amongst decision makers and leaders and to network with them. I very much enjoyed this evening.”

Equality and Diversity Manager, Imperial College London

“This year’s lecture was a great success. I thought the question asked by the Vice Chancellor of Kingston University (Prof. Julius Weinberg) really stood out; whether you hire the best person for the job or the best person for the team.”

Geoff Archer
Knowledge Transfer and Commercialisation Manager, Teesside University


“Inspiring. Thought provoking. Excellent lecture given by a great role model.”

Maureen Tibby
Academic Lead Employability, HEA

“Ruby quite interestingly shared her career journey with us and touched on her time out of work too. She acknowledged flexible working as the way to take business into the next century.”

Helen Monkhouse
Product Safety Manager, Protean Electric Limited


“Full of energy. Covered real and current issues which are still, unfortunately resulting in inequality at all levels in the workplace.”

Wendy Bowers
Non-Executive Director, British Chamber of Commerce. Founder, Role UK

“As an NCUB 50 Under 30 member it was inspiring to listen to a leader. She is an inspirational speaker. Her confidence has encouraged me to embrace the skills she highlighted in the workplace to progress in my career.”

Tim Stevenson
Research Fellow, University of Leeds


“An inspiration. A thoughtful and passionate view of how women can challenge the route to leadership.”

Brian Condon
Co-Director, Centre for Creative Collaboration, University of London
(Brian also liveblogged the event here


Watch Ruby’s Annual Lecture here