Digital DNA Awards ‘Entrepreneur of the Year’ putting maternal mental health firmly in front

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  • Moment Health CEO and Lean In Belfast & Ireland founder Nuala Murphy took home ‘Entrepreneur of the Year’ at last week’s Digital DNA Awards.

    Now in its third year, the annual awards night celebrates the achievements of Northern Ireland’s people, projects and companies making a global impact. Nuala explains how the win took her by surprise, and why it’s all back to ‘business as usual’ following last Thursday’s festivities.

    1. How was your experience of the night, at last week’s Digital DNA Awards 2018?
    It was great to be part of the evening – it was a fantastic platform to showcase the high standard of tech innovations from across Belfast and Northern Ireland. There was a great feeling of freshness; of hope and ambition. The whole event was executed so well. 

    2. What does it mean to you to be called out as ‘Entrepreneur of the Year’?
    I am so grateful to the judges for recognising all the work and for naming me ‘Entrepreneur of the Year’, but I couldn’t do it without the amazing people around me who support me and my teams every step of the way. 

    It’s really important to me that acknowledgement is given to the teams around me – this win, for Lean In and all the work we do at Moment Health to make maternal mental health mainstream, isn’t at all just about me. 

    3. Had you, in any way, anticipated a win?
    Not in the slightest. To say I was shocked to have won is an understatement. I had to do a piece-to-camera after accepting the award on stage in front of a 400-strong crowd. I’m not usually fazed by crowds or lights, but on this occasion I felt completely stunned.  

    I think that’s all due to how I feel about accepting any award for the work I do with Lean In or Moment Health – in truth these things are always rewarding a team effort. 

    4. Tell us a bit about the work you do with Lean In.
    With Lean In, I have to acknowledge all the hard work so many people have put into it from the very beginning. It’s thanks to a collective effort that we have created this huge movement of empowerment and wave of ambition across Belfast and the island of Ireland. 

    Starting Lean In happened at a time when I was feeling challenged by the fact I was simultaneously starting a family and working hard to build my career – I can’t tell one story without the other as the foundations of Moment Health were laid and supported as Lean In Belfast began to grow. 

    The vision for Lean In Belfast was to open up opportunity to others, to help people access networks, to create introductions that could pave the way to new and exciting careers, and to allow women the opportunity to become the very best they could be by knowing their own unique value, find their voice and not feel judged for being ambitious. 

    Now, almost four years on, we have more than 25 Circles, we have a host of partnerships happening across the city, and we’re busy continuing to create a more diverse and equal world for us all to benefit from. There’s room for everyone at the table. 

    Yes I founded Lean In Belfast, and yes I’m the Leader, but it simply wouldn’t exist without the people who have worked so hard to grow it further and keep it going – Rebecca, Andrea, Fiona, Sinead, Lisa, Gayle, Nadine, Anne – these are just some of the women who’ve helped build it from its foundations. Then there are the new Leaders, including Victoria, Sinead and Janette, who are continuing to spread the Lean In love far and wide, as well as our colleagues in Dublin – Breda, Sinead, Maeve, Dorcas, Priscilla, Maria. All self-organising volunteers who give their time and expertise time and again – you can learn more about each and every one at www.leaninbelfast.com.

    5. And tell us, then, about your team at Moment Health.
    Moment Health has an incredible team. My co-founder and CTO, Gavin Rooney, is as dedicated to making maternal mental health mainstream as I am – we’re often communicating on Slack at all hours of the day and night, pushing towards deadlines. Our third co-founder and creative director is Andy Henry, and although he isn’t with us full-time, he squeezes in every last-minute design and deck request for those all-important meetings. There’s our Community Lead, Anne-Claire Gordon, who looks after the hundreds of mums in our online community, and Head of Content Louise Conville-Cheung, who tells our story so eloquently and in line with our values and vision. 

    I can’t leave out Karen Gouck, our Junior Web Developer and a third-year Computing and Information Technology student at Queen’s University, who has chosen to do her placement year with us – talk about someone who is able to work on her own initiative and get on with things, from in-app messaging to building a website, and refining our NHS product listing for the health sector solution.  

    And, of course, Pamela Morgan, who keeps all ops and admin right, and helps me get about my day – everything she ticks off is critical to the success of what we do.

    6. Have mentors played a role in your entrepreneurial journey?
    I’m incredibly lucky that our chairperson, Noel Brady, has supported me as a mentor while helping bring our first enterprise sales over the line. 

    My business advisors, Ivy McFarlane, Paula Kennedy and Lisa Strutt, are pioneers in their support for our vision. They each believe in me and our mission, and our potential.  

    I’m also fortunate to have Bo Ren and Sarah Friar on board as advisors. I’m grateful to them both for many things, not least of all their North American straight-talking. 

    7. What advice would you give to other entrepreneurs?
    I think it’s easy to forget that an entrepreneurial journey has many ups and downs. Despite the rollercoaster, it’s important to remain focused and get on with building the company. 

    For us, it’s still early days at Moment Health. Whether it’s a good or bad day in the entrepreneurial journey, I like to remind myself the future is yet to be decided. And the same sentiment goes for Lean In Belfast – it helps keep me driven and focussed on the target.

    I’m an optimist, too. The best is yet to come, absolutely.

    8. What’s next on the agenda?
    This week is worldwide Maternal Mental Health Awareness Week, so it’s a big one for Moment Health. 

    We’ve just launched a brand new #CheckYourSymptoms campaign, with easy-to-digest posters that clearly outline early signs and symptoms of anxiety and depression. This is something the team and I have pushed so hard to create and get just right over the last few weeks. We’re incredibly proud of it and eager to see it take flight.

    Early intervention can bring great success when it comes to recovery. It was crucial that these fresh assets of ours are easily shareable – they’re perfect for social platforms, print-outs, emails… it’s important the #CheckYourSymptoms message spreads far and wide, because 70 per cent of women don’t recognise those symptoms during the perinatal period. 

    We’re also proud to be sponsoring and co-organising Northern Ireland’s inaugural Maternal Mental Health Conference, in partnership with the National Childbirth Trust, Sure Start, PANGS NI and Lindsay Robinson (Have You Seen That Girl?), which takes place this Thursday, May 3, at Queen’s University’s Riddell Hall. 

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