Women in Business: Nicky Brown

Harvey John has had the pleasure of sponsoring the ‘Brighton Ladies Lunch’ held at The Grand Hotel, Brighton in 2019 in collaboration with the Ladies Lunch Club and Consortium

In recognition, we continue our ‘Women in Business’ blog series to highlight the achievements and careers of inspirational businesswomen. This month, we are joined by Nicky Brown.

Just as we saw with Julie Kapsalis last month, Nicky keeps herself very busy! A Chartered HR professional and Treasurer and Committee member of Sussex CIPD; Nicky also Chairs the British Ports Association HR & Employment Network and is a significant driving force in the Women in Maritime Taskforce, tackling gender equality within the maritime sector. Nicky currently sits on the Board of Shoreham Port as Director of Corporate Services.


Nicky, thanks for taking time out of your busy schedule and joining us today. Can you start by telling us about yourself, your background, and your current role?

I am currently the Director of Corporate Services at Shoreham Port, a medium-sized port on the South Coast of England. I have a broad remit but most of my efforts go into the people-based strategies, namely building a unique and high-performing culture that fits the ethos of the Port. Shoreham is not the biggest port, but it wants to be the best and this starts and ends with the people it employs, who are at the heart of the business.

Additionally, I Chair the British Ports Association HR & Employment Network, which aims to facilitate greater collaboration and sharing of best practices between ports. We work on everything from industry-wide salary benchmarking to maritime careers promotion.

Another passion of mine is ensuring that the maritime industry is open to all and I champion opportunities for women in the sector, tackling gender equality. I am currently leading the introduction of a unique maritime recruitment aid that enables increased diversity in the maritime workplace and it is the first initiative of its kind in the world.

For a couple of years, I have been the Treasurer and a Committee member of Sussex CIPD – helping to connect over 400 members, delivering a wide-ranging events calendar and sourcing high-level speakers.


Outside of work I love being in the great outdoors, travelling as much as I can and most importantly spending time with friends and family.

What a range of work you’re involved in! So how did you get where you are today, working in and championing for the maritime industry, and who has helped you along the way?

I ended up working in a port through chance but have never looked back! I’ve grabbed every opportunity, worked hard and most significantly, had the support and guidance of key people – notably my current Chief Executive. He has taught me the power of networking which has opened up a whole new world. I’ve also had the benefit of an outstanding mentor which has been a game changer. I’ve kept close to those that have inspired me and tried to learn as much as I can from them.

Networking certainly seems to play a large role in building bridges for development. Thinking about all the ‘ladies’ events that encourage women in business, why is gender balance and having a more diverse workforce important, especially in senior management teams?

Achieving a balanced workforce at all levels will undoubtedly improve culture, behaviour, outcomes, profitability and productivity. Any industry that chooses to overlook and fail to include people because of gender, when seeking talent and expertise is making a huge mistake.

Diversity of thought is incredibly important and essential to future success. It is especially important in senior management as that sets the tone for the rest of the organisation. For example, at Shoreham Port the Board and leadership team have great gender diversity, spearheaded by a female Chair. Consequently, it’s no surprise that Shoreham Port has recently become the first port in the UK to achieve certification under a stringent diversity Charter (the Women in Maritime Charter). The Port has ambitious plans for the future and a desire to be a leading example to others in the sector striving for an inclusive employment culture that inspires a productive, innovative and dynamic workforce. This is supported from the top down, by the diverse senior management team.

That’s fantastic, I’m sure the Chair must be very proud of her team. So how did you get there? What are some strategies that can help women achieve a more prominent role in their organisations?

The following strategies are extremely helpful irrespective of gender but can certainly help females with confidence building and becoming more prominent.

  • Mentoring – Having a mentor has made an immense difference in my career. Mentoring has given me time to sense-check my next moves, openly and honestly reflect on challenges, be supported and work out what makes me tick. It’s been invaluable.
  • Practice public speaking – Many women I speak to find public speaking off-putting and shy away from it. It will only get easier with practice and there is great reward in pushing yourself out of your comfort zone. Start small and build up, and trick your body into believing it’s having fun – power posing is back: see the Amy Cuddy TED talk.
  • Network, network, network – both inside and outside your organisation.
There’s a pattern of networking here! It seems to be becoming more and more prevalent in successful business. What’s your biggest bugbear in the corporate world?

Snazzy words that don’t mean anything! I believe in keeping it simple and cutting out the jargon.

OK, so let’s cut to the chase. What is the most important lesson you’ve learned in your career to date?

Knowing when to ask for help. It’s easy to not realise you need help when you are in the thick of things. Ruthless prioritising will only get you so far. My biggest lesson so far has been realising when to shout out for support. Knowing who to ask for help is relevant here and one of the great benefits of networking is that you have plenty of people you can call on when you need a favour – but be prepared to reciprocate.

Well, I’m sure this interview will certainly be helpful for many of our followers. What one thing do you believe has been a major factor in you achieving success?

Timing is everything and there is always an element of luck in being in the right place at the right time, however when you are – be ready. One opportunity often leads to another so grabbing that first opportunity and making the most of it is key.

Being ready is great advice, it’s clear you’ve grabbed life by the horns. If you could give one piece of advice to your younger self what would it be?

Be kind to yourself – work-life balance is so important! Take time to pause, reflect and refocus.

Well said!
Thank you so much Nicky for your time and for sharing your experiences with us today. We wish you all the best in all your current and future ventures.

Nicky can be followed:

LinkedIn Profile 

Twitter – @nickygold


David Waddell is Managing Director at Harvey John.

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