500 guests attend Today’s Women in Grocery (TWIG) virtual networking event

Under this year’s theme of ‘Looking back to move forward’, TWIG Networking Event hears how learning from past events can enable prediction of future trends



28 September 2021

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The past can weigh heavily on your shoulders, or you can use it to guide you and propel you forward. That was the message to participants in this year Irish Grocery’s Benevolent Fund’s annual lunch event in conjunction with Today’s Women in Grocery (TWIG) held on Friday, 17 September to raise funds for those working in the sector who experience unexpected financial hardship.

The virtual event was attended by almost 500 people, and hosted by MC Sonya Lennon with a line-up of five sterling speakers including: Gráinne Wafer, global brand director for Guinness at Diageo; Roísín Hennerty, managing director of Ornua’s Global Foods Division; Sinéad Bryan, managing director at Vodafone; Sharon Buckley, commercial director of the Musgrave Group and Chupi Sweetman, CEO of Chupi Jewellery.

TWIG chair Sharon Yourell Lawlor emphasized that through looking back at the past, we can anticipate the future better, shorten our learning curve, predict trends and use them to achieve the results we want.

“We can build on our successes and avoid making the same mistakes,” she said. “And what better context than now, as we emerge from Covid to reflect, look back and consider the past, the recent Covid past or a longer horizon, to ensure we now move forward stronger than ever to build on our successes and position ourselves for future growth,” she said.

Key speaker Gráinne Wafer of Diageo told attendees, that when faced with challenges the team she works alongside often ask “what would Arthur [Guinness] do?”:

“Of course, the question is not literally about what Arthur would do, but more about what is the core set of values and principles that you need to hold dear when making decisions…what is the lasting legacy you are creating?

“Thinking about what experiences have shaped us, what were our highs and lows, what patterns emerge from these and what can we learn from this about what it says about us,” Wafer told the audience.

The theme of “looking back to move forward” was addressed by all the speakers. Sharon Buckley spoke about how the last year and a half has given her a greater appreciation, both professionally and personally, on the importance of surrounding yourself with individuals and activities that lift you up and energise you. Roisin Hennerty commented that the period of unprecedented change brought about by Covid-19 highlighted the importance of Diversity, Belonging and Inclusion to their business.  Reflecting on the beginning of her career Sinead Bryan spoke about the importance of taking risks and backing yourself, while Chupi Sweetnam spoke about the looking back on her career and being proud of overcoming some of the early challenges she experienced as a female entrepreneur.

The event, sponsored by CPM, Musgrave, Diageo and Suntory Beverage & Food Ireland, also featured a raffle with six great prizes including a Chupi 14k Gold TWIG Band Diamond Ring, and five overnight breaks in some of Ireland’s top five and four-star hotels. Sponsors of these prizes included GSK, the Doyle Collection, INUA Collection, Glanbia and Coca-Cola.

Through the IGBF, enormous assistance has been provided to relieve hardship amongst employed, unemployed and retired members and their spouses, who have fallen on difficult times because of ill health or bereavement. The charity currently assists nearly 250 families monthly and will contribute over €560,000 annually on welfare support.

The fund is a registered charity and also a registered friendly society and has historically been very well-supported by the leading companies in the retail, wholesale, food and drink and services industries. Individuals in difficulty can apply for financial assistance and the awarding of grants are managed through a well-governed welfare process.



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