The Rise of the Female CEO: Meet the Woman Refusing to Melt Under Pressure

According to a Companies House survey of over 5 million, men are still 3 times more likely to be in control of a company than their female counterparts, showing a clear disparity between men and women when it comes to reaching the top of organisations. Many factors contribute to creating such a noticeable imbalance, but Zelica Carr is an exception to them all.

It is safe to say Zelica Carr knows a thing or two about business as she has been at the helm of the Ice Cream Alliance (ICA) for almost 10 years. As the UK’s only membership trade association for the ice cream industry, the Alliance represents people from all facets of the industry, and once a year hosts ‘The Ice Cream Expo’, allowing suppliers and manufacturers to showcase their products to fellow members and the public. There is much more to the job than tasting ice cream (even though that is one of the best parts)!

Here she chats through her role as a CEO and the wider landscape of women in business.

Hi Zelica. Tell us a bit about how you landed your role with the ICA.

For 30 years I was in the hospitality industry working for a variety of different companies, from hotels and pubs to chemists and metal fabrication. I worked for the Ice Cream Alliance for some time as Head of Sales, and when the CEO position became vacant I jumped at the chance. I was thrilled to be promoted to the role, and couldn’t wait to get started on all it entailed.

What’s your favourite part of your job role?

I love being able to interact with members from all across the UK on a regular basis, as this allows me to meet so many lovely and interesting people. It’s a really sociable job; we have regional dinners, regular board meetings and, of course, the annual Expo, so you’re always chatting to people from within the industry. Interaction is a pivotal part of my job - I love it!

Seeing the creativity from our members with all their quirky yet tantalising ice cream concoctions, which are ever evolving each year, is definitely a highlight as well.

How do you ensure that you continue to be successful?

The main role of the Head Office is to remain consistent in delivering excellent service to all of our members. I’m always looking at new ways we can improve our performance and go above and beyond so that we can always offer our members the best possible deal.

I’m naturally not a complacent person, and always strive to excel in my role, so this will hopefully ensure that success still comes my way in the future!

What advice would you give young women looking to start out in business?

There are some pre-conceived notions that women are less likely to succeed in business due to their gender, but by buying into this idea and accepting it as fact, it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. So, I would advise young women to not be discouraged when thinking of starting a business and give it all you’ve got.

If you put the hard work in, you can absolutely be successful on your own merit.

Have you faced any difficulties in the workplace due to your gender?

I feel that my gender may have hindered me somewhat in the past, but of course discrimination comes in many forms and people can be discriminated against for a variety of reasons. Being a woman can sometimes create difficulties in business, particularly prior to the initial point of interaction, as some people may believe a woman may deliver a sub-par service than a male counterpart that is similarly qualified.

However, by producing work to a consistently high standard, there is no disputing how effective I can be and the initial difficulty becomes rather obsolete.

What are your next career steps?

At the moment, I’m loving my role as CEO of the Ice Cream Alliance, so I’m fully focused on helping the organisation grow and reach even more of the ice cream industry.

Currently I am focused on improving our offering to members, to make sure we are supporting them in every way we can.

I am also very focused on preparing for 2019’s Ice Cream and Gelato Expo in Harrogate.

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