Meet the mediator

October 3, 2018

Nicola Crowther of Crowther Mediation provides advice on tackling disputes and gender stereotypes, while reflecting on being a woman in business

Tell us a bit about your business, when it was founded and what you do?
Crowther Mediation was established in 2014.  Prior to this I had been mediating with other firms and had enjoyed a career in law for 15 years. I made the change from law to mediation in 2010, largely because I thought there had to be a better way of resolving disputes than going through a court process. Crowther Mediation has grown rapidly and now provides mediation and training on a local and international level, in all major areas, including civil, commercial, family and workplace disputes.

What is mediation and what are the benefits?
Essentially, the role of a mediator is to keep those in dispute out of court, be it individuals or large companies. Parties come together in the same building where a skilled mediator will facilitate a negotiation, which will ultimately resolve the conflict. Being bogged down in litigation can be expensive and time-consuming, as well as physically and emotionally draining. Mediation presents a much quicker, more cost-effective way of resolving disputes.

What is it you love about what you do?
I suppose like most people I enjoy the thrill of a ‘job well done’. At the start of my working day I am faced with individuals who can see no light at the end of a very dark tunnel and by the end of my day real progress has been made. It’s wonderful to share in that sense of relief and achievement clients get when a deal has been made and a burden has been lifted.

How do your services differ from other mediation service providers?
Crowther Mediation offers the full package and isn’t limited to specialising in one area or another. Instead, we have carefully selected a dedicated team which focuses on different areas of mediation. Every team member comes with a wealth of knowledge and experience in their chosen field, meaning we can confidently offer a mediator to suit every dispute. This saves clients the time and expense of having to shop around to find the right person for the job.

What do you feel the main challenges are for women in business today?
Breaking down gender stereotyping is a huge issue facing women in the workplace. It has been for a very long time and I think it will still be an issue for some time to come. But that doesn’t mean to say we should give up. After all, there has been significant progress.

Civil and commercial mediations are still a largely male-dominated environment. In part, I feel this is because there is still a gender imbalance in the ‘top jobs’, with far more male CEOs than female ones, for example. Similarly, there are significantly more civil and commercial male mediators than female ones. Yet, there are comparatively few male family mediators.
Gender aside, Crowther Mediation has the expertise to effectively deal with any type of dispute and we are proud to have supported a vast range of clients over the years.

What are your ambitions for the business now and in the future?
I feel a responsibility to the amazing people I work with and want to keep building on our success and expanding the team further.

While I always envisage the heart of Crowther Mediation being here in the North East, I still want the firm to have a bigger presence on an international scale and we are already making strides in this area through the recent family mediation work we acquired in Greece.

When you are not at work, how do you relax?
Of course this is the part where I say I enjoy spending time with my family… and while I do love my girls to bits, raising two princesses is not really a way for anyone to relax! For me, unwinding and switching off involves a round of golf. I love the fresh air, gorgeous scenery, some good company and if there is a well-earned gin and tonic at the 19th hole then I’m in heaven.

What’s the best piece of business advice you have had?
“Grow a thicker skin – fast. Not everyone will like you and no one will love your business like you do.” These wise words came from my husband, who has been running his own successful kitchen company for years.

What advice would you give other women in business?
Have faith and confidence in your own abilities, don’t play up to the ‘female’ stereotype, build your network and support other women in business.

Which female entrepreneurs or leaders inspire you and why?
I know lots of excellent lawyers and entrepreneurs in the North East who are juggling careers and motherhood very well. Without doubt, those ladies are my inspiration. I admire their drive and determination to have the best of both worlds and could easily list a dozen off the top of my head, but I don’t think they would thank me. I like to think they know who they are.

What would you like the world of work to be like for your daughters?
I want their achievements to be valued as much as anyone else’s and I want their decisions to be respected and not judged. I sincerely hope I am leading by example with my own daughters and nieces, who are being raised in an environment where they see women making their own decisions without question from male role models. I’m taking my daughters and my husband on a business trip to Dubai later this year. I think it’s really important for them to see the perks of Mum’s hard work and Dad being wholly supportive.

Crowther Mediation Services

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