Skip to main content
News Dashboard
All the latest news and events

Championing women internationally

By Fabienne Bailey – Director for Business Growth and Transformation

International Women’s Day is a fantastic opportunity in which to celebrate the achievements of women across the world. The annual event serves as a powerful reminder of the progress made towards gender equality, while highlighting the work that still lies ahead. It is a day dedicated to recognising and honouring the resilience, strength, and accomplishments of women from all walks of life.

In my life, I have been very privileged to have travelled extensively internationally for business and pleasure. From being born in Germany to military parents, we moved and travelled around a lot, allowing me to be exposed to different people and different ways of living across many European countries. At school, I boarded with girls from across the world, who also had parents working in different countries, and we learnt from each other’s backgrounds and cultures.

Our school was run by Christian nuns and I didn’t appreciate it at the time but they themselves were ‘International Women’. They all travelled to third world countries across the globe and worked to support orphaned children, victims of HIV and people living in extreme poverty. Dedicating their lives to others, our ‘Sisters’ were truly remarkable international women. 


As I have developed in my work life, I have been extremely fortunate to have built a wonderful career in the education and skills sector and more recently ‘international’ education and skills. Joining the awarding body sector in 2018, I was introduced to the demand for vocational and technical skills and higher education skills development across the world. After meeting with the Department for Business and Trade (DBT) (formerly the Department for International Trade) I realised the level of opportunity to develop new business from international markets.

My first experience of international trade was through a Trade Mission to Hong Kong where I met many inspirational women who were already doing business on an international level. With their support and guidance, I have been successful in joining DBT as an Export Champion for the Northern Powerhouse and now help other organisations who are starting on their international trade journeys.

Other trade missions have included visits to Thailand, Indonesia, South Africa, Bahrain and Dubai and I am proud to have developed some fantastic partnerships and new business relationships with many education and skills institutions across the world.

In my current role as Group Director for Business Transformation and Growth at AIM Qualifications and Assessment Group, I am responsible for UK and international business development and love being able to find new opportunities to sell our vast range of products and services that meet the needs of international customers. It doesn’t come easy though – working internationally is often a ‘slow burner’ and takes lots of time and investment to build trust with international customers. They need to know that their business is important to you and that you are going to be able to provide high quality support and service despite the distance between you.

I recall my first visit to Bahrain and how nervous I was to be attending a meeting with the Chamber of Commerce, knowing it would be an all-male, Arabic speaking audience. My fears were soon relieved when the members greeted me with a very warm welcome and a genuine interest in hearing how our qualifications and apprenticeship standards could support their ambitions to raise skills levels for local people looking to get into employment and improve their career chances. It was extremely refreshing to see that, despite my preconceived ideas around ‘gender’ in this country, that it mattered not that I was a woman and, what was more important, was the opportunity to trade together and find ways to improve education and skills together.

Back in the UK, we are exploring new ways at AIM to grow our international business and we recognise the importance of equality, diversity and inclusion to support our growth as an organisation. As such, I am leading our new strategy around this agenda and hope to inspire inclusion for colleagues, partners and other stakeholders in our network. Through the day job and my role with the Department for Business and Trade, I hope to be able to support other women who may lack confidence in the same way I first did and show them that through championing each other and learning from each other, they too can become ‘international women’!

< back