Meet the Leaders – Shirley Billson

We love being Leaders at Connexions and thought you might be curious to know a little bit more about us.

In the second of our Meet the Leaders Series we talk to Shirley Billson, one of our newest Leaders from our Pershore group.

1. Who is your heroine?

When I was growing up it was Marie Curie…the only woman we were ever taught about who was recognized for achievements in a man’s world. Now, it’s probably Greta Thunberg. Her total commitment to do the right thing is mind-blowingly inspirational.

2. What was the last book you read?

The Wall by John Lanchester – a great book and a very unnerving take on our world. I hope it isn’t prophetic, but it’s close enough to make you worry.

3. What is your favourite thing about what you do?

Always being able to contribute something positive

4. Who was your first crush?

A boy at primary school called Peter Watson – dark hair and deep blue eyes. 

5. What is your favourite thing about The Connexions?

Camaraderie comes first

6. What was your first job?

A Trainee Line Controller for BOC Datasolve….in modern terms, a Computer Network Engineer!

7. What is your biggest pet peeve?

Crikey, I’ve probably got lots of soap box topics….and I don’t sweat too many things these days. However, if I have to go for one, I’d say it’s when people don’t wash up cups properly. I hate taking out a ‘clean’ cup to discover months (or years!) of grime caked into the inside. I can’t have a drink once I discover it. 

8. What did you want to be when you were little?

An actress…it’s probably why I choose professional speaking now.

Autumn Perspective: How things aren’t always what they seem

Last weekend I went for a long walk with my dog and other half.  Later the same afternoon I posted a few photos on Facebook and one of my friends commented that it looked like a perfect Autumn walk.  In many ways it was – clear blue sky with barely a cloud, it was dry, the sun was warm enough to not need gloves but not too warm that we were sweating during our eleven mile circuit and the trees were a beautiful mix of colours. 

My friend’s comment made me think about what the photo doesn’t show and about how we see ourselves and others. My photo of my picture perfect day actually hid a slightly murky truth. It had rained for all of the day before which meant most of our route was waterlogged at best and thick mud up to our ankles at worst, both of which made the walk hard going.   Autumn leaves were beautiful but even where it wasn’t muddy fallen leaves made it slippery underfoot and we discovered about half way round that one of our pair of boots were no longer waterproof (thankfully not mine!).  Shortly after I took the photo we realized that despite following the directions we had done an unexpected circuit and were effectively lost with only written instructions to guide us.  None of which could be seen in my picture.  

As business owners, and particularly as women, we are very quick to compare ourselves to others.  Whether on appearance, confidence or success it can be very easy to look at ourselves, our career or our business alongside others and find ourselves lacking.  The reality, however, is similar to my walk.  The picture I showed on Facebook didn’t show the full picture – just a snapshot. It didn’t show the struggles we had made to get there or the rest of the journey we took which was heavily waterlogged in places and, thanks to our wrong turn, slightly different and longer than planned.  

When we look at someone or their business we only ever really see a snapshot.  We don’t see the journey that they have taken to reach that success or level of confidence.   We don’t see the mistakes that they have made, the “mud” that they have had to wade through to get there or the wrong turns they may have taken along the way.  

Equally what we see could be fake. Whilst I didn’t intend to deceive with the photo I added to Facebook it would have been easy to pretend that the walk had all been easy and picture perfect.  I’m not saying that someone is deliberately misleading you but maybe they don’t have it as perfect as they portray either. For some new businesses it’s a survival instinct to “fake it till you make it” and it is rare for someone to admit their business isn’t doing well, particularly publically. So next time you find yourself comparing yourself to someone else, just pause for a minute and ask yourself if you are being fair to yourself or to them.  Your journey isn’t their journey, your challenges aren’t their challenges and maybe, just maybe they are looking at you and thinking that they don’t compare.

Meet the Leaders – Eve Tubb

We love being Leaders at Connexions and thought you might be curious to know a little bit more about us. In the first of our Series we talk to Eve Tubb, our newest Leader from our Oxford group.

What is your background?

I have 20 years of Human Resources experience, mainly throughout the hospitality industry. I have worked for Hilton, Jurys Inns and Millennium and Copthorne Hotel.

Following a short career break to have my second child I decided to take my HR career in a different direction and met with the owner of Businessynergy, a HR Consultancy based in Pershore. 2 years later and it is the best career decision I ever made. I love the diversity of working with SMEs in a variety of industries to support them in managing their people and business.

1. Who is your heroine?

So many to choose from and not one of them famous. If I have to choose 1 then I will go with my first manager in HR! She is now one of my closest friends, I have admired her work ethic for over 20 years, but over the past few years her life has been turned upside down following a personal tragedy that would have broken most people.

I see her positivity every day, leading life to the full and never taking anything for granted. Some days it’s easy to let life get you down and it’s people like her that give me the kick up the backside I need to remember how good I have got it. 

2. What was the last book you read?

Aliens love underpants (I have a 6 year old and a 3 year old – I haven’t read a book of my own for over 3 years!)

3. What is your favourite thing about what you do?

I can’t deny that I do love to get my teeth into a disciplinary and a restructure, but the outcomes give you the best feeling, knowing that we are helping businesses and their people to be the best that they can be.  

4. Who was your first crush?

Joey McIntyre from New Kids on the Block 

5. What is your favourite thing about The Connexions?

  • The flexibility of attending when it suits you and your business;
  • The relaxed environment that each of the groups have;
  • The variety of speakers who inspire us with their talks.

5. What was your first job?

A waitress at Poppins Restaurant (café) when I was 14

6. What is your biggest pet peeve?

Unclear recycling information on products – we know that we need to be better at recycling but without a magnifying glass it is hard to see how and if items can be recycled sometimes – this needs to get better!

7. What did you want to be when you were little?

A journalist – you’ll see from my answers above, this was never going to be the case, but it was a childhood dream, that and working in a shoe shop.

If you would like to find out more about attending Eve’s Oxford group please get in touch


Welcome to The Connexion for Women in Business and to our Connexions Blog.

Watch this space for lots of lovely blogs from our leaders, speakers and guest bloggers. We are just getting started but we have lots of plans for blogs on everything from mindfulness to networking to marketing advice to practical business tips and, of course, more information on how to get the most from Connexions.

It really is lovely to have you with us for our Connexions journey. We are both passionate about helping other women in business to grow their connections, networks and business. No-one is too small, or too big, to join us and we welcome all women in business from any industry.

We very much look forward to meeting more and more of you at our groups.

Donna and Amy x