Authenticity in Business: You Don’t Have to Fake it to Make it

Ingenuity Breakfast Event – 12 March 2019


People infuse their businesses with their own backgrounds and beliefs whilst also adhering to the demands of the business environment at the time of founding. Yet the “rules of the game” in this environment are gradually shifting; we are moving away from formal business wear, networking events at unsociable hours and the need to fit into a stereotype which could be described as male, pale and stale. “Authenticity” is having its moment; business owners are encouraged to follow the example of business leaders like Anita Roddicks and wear their values on their sleeves. Yet at times, business owners may still feel pressures to “fake it” to fit in with expectations as a way to gain a new client or reach a new market.

At this breakfast event, entrepreneur Debbie Clarke will share her story of how she navigated the tricky waters of self-employment; running a business for 3 years that she felt dissociated from, until she launched debbiedooodah and – in Debbie’s words – “came fully into the light, doubled her income and become 100% truly and completely authentic”. Following this, Dr Isobel O’Neil from the University of Nottingham will broaden out the discussion by sharing her research findings about how entrepreneurs engage in a process to balance the competing demands of “standing out” as an authentic-to-self business owner and “fitting in” to meet others’ expectations.

Our speakers

Dr Isobel O’Neil
Assistant Professor in Entrepreneurship and Innovation

Dr Isobel O’Neil is an academic within the University’s Haydn Green Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship at the University of Nottingham where she obtained her PhD. Isobel’s research has focused on developing knowledge about how entrepreneurial identities emerge that feel authentic and on how to portray one’s authenticity effectively while being deemed legitimate by others. Following a recent piece of research on how female entrepreneurs gain legitimacy, Isobel received funding to develop and launch an interactive PDF toolkit. Emerging from a collaboration with entrepreneurs Debbie Clarke, Sarah King and Alex Hardwick, this toolkit seeks to deliver tools and insights to support people who set up their business to help them keep their own values at the heart of their businesses.



Debbie Clarke
Owner of debbiedooodah

Debbie nose-dived into the world of self-employment in 2013. She ran the digital marketing agency Heard Media for 3 years and has spent the last 2 years coaching and mentoring businesses as well as lecturing on digital marketing at four universities. She podcasts at Women Who Create, runs the Blue Stockings network with over 1000 entrepreneurial women and runs the Indie Freedom Seekers membership community.

The programme

07:45 – 08:10       Registration, breakfast and networking
08:10 – 08:15       Welcome and introductions
08:15 – 09:00       Keynote
09:00 – 09:10       Q&A
09:10 – 09:30       The Shop Window
09:30…                  Networking – for those that want to stay on

State Aid

This event is part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund 2014-2020 and is part of the Enabling Innovation Programme. This event is classed as State Aid to participating businesses, the value of which is £100, but is delivered completely free of charge to participants.

The ‘Shop Window’

The Shop Window is your chance to take the floor to make a brief presentation to the room about something you are looking for help with.

From a business? Sorry, but the Shop Window isn’t the time for a “60 second pitch”. Feedback from our network members tells us that our businesses want something different from Ingenuity. But it is your opportunity to do some research of your own: request volunteers for new product or service trials, ask if anyone has any recommendations for difficult-to-find suppliers, or simply share some news that the audience might not find out about otherwise.

From the University? If you have a business-facing project or want to work with local small and medium-sized businesses as part of your research, this is your opportunity to make contact with business owners. Our network members are already interested in what happens at the University and may be interested in participating with your initiative.

If you would like to participate in the Shop Window just drop us a line.

The venue

Sir Colin Campbell Building, Triumph Road, Nottingham, NG7 2TU. View on Google Maps.

Book your place now…

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We will add the data you provide on this form to our Customer Relationship Management system for the purposes of administrating this event, communicating with you about it and facilitating your company’s relationship with the University. We may also contact you about similar events in the future.

We are required by our funders (the European Regional Development Fund) to report which companies have attended our events as part of the Enabling Innovation programme, so your data will also be used to comply with the reporting and monitoring requirements of our funders.

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