Pamodzi Creatives is proud to announce Biscoes Law as one of our Event Sponsors of the Pamodzi Inspirational Women of Portsmouth Awards. The Pamodzi Inspirational Women of Portsmouth Awards event takes place on Friday 10th March 2023 at Portsmouth Guildhall showcasing the creative talent and inspirational women within our community.
Alison Lee of Biscoes, one of the event sponsors, was born in Portsmouth and apart from university, she has lived here all her life. Alison loves being part of this city, especially the Royal Naval connections due to her father serving in the Falklands war.
As the first in her family to go to university, Alison started her legal career in a small Portsmouth law firm based in Southsea and qualified as a solicitor in 1994. The firm has been through many changes, but she never left and in 2015 became the firm MD. Since she took that role, the firm has more than doubled its turnover and now employs 150 local people.
Alison has always believed it’s important to try and make a difference. As such, Alison volunteers her time as a chair of trustees of Pompey in the Community, The Guildhall Trust and as a director of Shaping Portsmouth. She is also a director of a national network of 73 law firms called Law Net UK. Alison has also mentored the girls’ network; giving young women from whatever background the belief they can achieve great things with belief and determination is something she is passionate about. Her firms’ board is mostly women, and she believes diversity in leadership makes for the best business outcomes. Her motto is ‘always treat people as you would want to be treated’.
Pamodzi caught up with Alison to ask her about why she wanted to be involved:
As you know Pamodzi is all about bringing people together to celebrate the Inspirational Women of Portsmouth and the positive impact they have on their community so tell us about the activities you are doing to empower women in Portsmouth?
Well, our firm employs probably more women than it does men would say probably it does. Even at our board level, where we’re top-heavy in terms of women directors, so empowering women has been something I’ve been quite passionate about all my life. As a comprehensive school-educated girl, I’ve achieved a law degree and more recently a business degree. I think that people can achieve whatever they set their minds on with the right encouragement and support.
Tell me, what does supporting Pamodzi mean to you?
Well, I met Roni Edwards about five, or six years ago. She is a very inspirational woman. and told me the story of how she happened upon the idea for the awards. There was this sense that Portsmouth women were kind of berated I suppose outside of Portsmouth, and sometimes inside Portsmouth. We have some fantastic women here, creative women, businesswomen, and women that do a massive amount for the community. It was inspiring to me that this was being celebrated and after attending the first awards, I just fell for it hook line and sinker. For a couple of years (during the pandemic) they were online which made it difficult to try and create the same in-person atmosphere. Last year, however, the event was held at the Royal Maritime Club and sold out quickly but this year, I just think it’s going to go up several notches through being hosted at the Guildhall. I’m a trustee of the Guildhall trust so, I know that they will do their best to make it a fantastic event. It just gives an opening for the creative side of the event itself where there’s lots of dance and lots of activity going so it should be phenomenal.
Many of the nominees of the Pamodzi Inspirational Women of Portsmouth Awards have overcome many a challenge which has inspired them to do what they do. What challenges have you had to overcome and what has it taught you?
It is a challenge to do the role that I do. I qualified as Solicitor in 1994 and sadly it’s not uncommon for female solicitors to drop out of the profession. I think when I joined the profession, about 40% dropped out 10 years after qualifying, partly because they just couldn’t get promotions and weren’t seen as future leaders of firms. So, I didn’t set my heart on being the managing director of my firm, but I continued to work hard at what I did and just developed a leadership voice within that sector. I became the managing director of my firm, but I’m also a director at a national organisation called Law Net, which represents 73 good-quality law firms across the country. Recently I had an invite from Barclays Bank where I go to a professional lunch, and I was the only female in the room so it’s still hard to see progression within my profession. I think that’s probably common across a lot of professional services professions and therefore I’m very passionate about making sure that we’re bringing on the next generation to see themselves as future leaders.
Who inspires you?
Well, Roni inspires me all the time. I also have the great pleasure of being a trustee at Pompey in the community and Clare Martin, who’s the CEO there probably has been a trailblazer before she received a Lifetime Achievement Award, I think at the last event. Every time I go into the place it just fills me with joy what we achieved there. We’re in the middle of building a community football stadium in Copnor now so now that’s part of that. But Clare for me is inspirational and I did nominate her for an MBE which she got last year, in the Queen’s honours list. It was the last one of the Queen’s honours lists so you know, that was a great achievement.
Who would be your most inspirational dinner guest past or present?
When I’ve thought about this, I think the people that I would really love to have met who have both passed away now will be either Gandhi or Nelson Mandela.