Women in Conversation

About Us

Lauren Filen | The First Female and first South African CEO of Simba (PepsiCo) South Africa and Founder of “Women in Conversation”
Message from Lauren
When I was made the first Female CEO of Simba (PepsiCo) in 2007 I was often asked for comments from both External Stakeholders (Suppliers, The Press etc) and Internal Employees about Female Talent related issues and challenges and I gave my comments gladly and widely in the hope that they would help inspire and encourage change.

I have now been privileged to join Advantage Group International - an organization that focuses on helping people and companies work better together. One of their key pillars globally is D&I and so they have invested in supporting my passion and making this event happen.
Fast forward 16 years and I feel that we have made little progress. The two biggest reasons for this, in my opinion, are the following:
Women don’t consciously create the right support networks around themselves
Women don’t engage and discuss relevant and important issues they face enough

Our Mission

It’s time to have open conversations, share experiences, and find actionable solutions. Our mission is to guide you on this transformative journey. We are dedicated to empowering women and fostering a supportive community to overcome workplace challenges, inspire transformation, and broaden your professional network.


We believe in the power of knowledge and action. We provide valuable insights and actionable strategies to help you navigate workplace challenges with confidence and effectiveness. Our aim is to empower you to take control of your career and future.


Connect with a diverse community of like-minded individuals who share your aspirations and challenges. Expand your professional network, learn from others, and build lasting relationships that can help you excel in your career.


We aim to inspire and empower you to elevate your career to new heights. Our event is designed to provide you with the motivation and tools you need to overcome barriers, shatter glass ceilings, and achieve your professional goals.

"Women In Conversation provides a unique opportunity for networking and open discussions on key and relevant topics related to women in the professional world."

The Founders

Lauren, Helen & Jo

Helen McDougall

Helen McDougall is the General Manager of Mars Africa. She has been in the FMCG industry in Africa for the last 22 years, working in some incredible organisations like Kimberly-Clark, Proctor & Gamble, Kelloggs and Danone, gaining perspective across many categories and markets. Contributing to and supporting the growth and development of others is something that really inspires her. She is also a wife and mother, who loves spending quality time with her family.

Lauren Filen

As an accomplished CEO with over 33 years in the FMCG sector across Sub-Saharan Africa, my career highlights include leading major firms like PepsiCo South Africa, IFFCO, and Baobab Nutritional Brands. I have a strong track record in strategy, marketing, and executing key mergers and acquisitions, which has been instrumental in driving growth and innovation A key aspect of my leadership has been my commitment to women's advancement in the corporate world. In 2007, as the first female CEO of Simba (PepsiCo) and with my involvement in mentoring programs like the GIBS Goldman Sachs 10000 Women program further underscores my dedication to empowering women in leadership. My journey reflects a continuous effort to leverage experience and insights for growth and success, particularly in empowering female voices in the industry. However, It is disheartening to see the limited progress we have made as women in the workplace. In my opinion, women often fail to consciously establish supportive networks around themselves and engage in enough discussions surrounding the crucial issues we face. I co-founded Women in Conversation in 2023, a purpose led foundation,addressing challenges faced by women in the workplace. Women in Conversation fosters dialogue, education, and action to promote meaningful change, offering a platform for women leaders to connect, network, and drive transformation.

Jo Watt

Jo is an individual with an unmatched dedication to driving positive change through talent acquisition. Jo fosters an environment that enables organizations to discover the perfect match for their requirements. Through their work at Art of Talent, Jo empowers businesses to surpass conventional limits and embrace a future where talent acquisition becomes a catalyst for transformative growth and achievement. Jo leads a conscious life and promotes self-love and the nurturing of a healthy self-esteem. This forms the foundation for professional efficacy and empowerment, equipping individuals with the necessary confidence, resilience, assertiveness, and self-awareness to navigate the complexities of the workplace, establish and attain goals, make well-informed decisions, and ultimately find fulfillment and success in their professional pursuits.
Scroll to Top