Company: Self Employed
Time at the company: 20+ years
What is your professional title? Director
What do you do on a day-to-day basis?
I get up at 5am. Start with writing my second novel then move through the bill paying day job of my property and financial work, ending with cooking for the family. Interspersed will be dog walking, yoga and cycling about.
I have had so many different careers – publishing, architecture, I ran a business that started from a market stall at Camden, property developing, working in the wine world and wine writing and now striving to become a novelist. I have worked for other people but it never lasts very long.
What did you want to do when you were a child and what changed?
A psychiatrist. I’ve always been fascinated by human nature, which is the thrust behind my novels. However, I’m not very academic so gravitated to art then business. I’ve also been writing my whole life in one capacity or another.
What academic qualifications do you have?
Art Foundation, BA Architecture RIBA1, WSET Diploma and I studied the MW (Master of Wine) for 2 years, not qualified but the knowledge is invaluable in the wine world.
What’s the best career advice you’ve ever been given?
Never over-estimate or under-estimate anyone. Also, treat others as you would wish to be treated yourself.
Who is your role model and why?
No-one in particular but I admire very successful yet humble people.
What is the best thing about your current working environment?
Flexibility. If I feel like taking off for a couple of days on a wine jaunt with my husband, I can. It’s taken a long time to get to this point.
What would you change about your daily work routine if you could?
I would be in Cadaques, north Spain, lying on the beach in the afternoons.
Where do you see yourself professionally in five years’ time?
Writing novels full time and hopefully debt free!
Do you feel you can be the same person at work and in private?
Not at all. I am completely different in private. Although, as I get older I am more myself in public instead of putting on a ‘work act’.
Where and in what roles are women in the leadership structure at your company?
When I employed a lot of staff I actively recruited women at all levels. I found them easier to train and manage and customers preferred dealing with them. Most problems were with male staff!
Does diversity matter to you?
Yes, everyone on merit.
How good is your work life balance?
Good these days. I follow a self-imposed timetable, but keep a lid on the bill paying stuff to allow time to focus on the new as well as wellness and time off. I no longer work in the evenings, or at weekends or on holiday. Most importantly, I don’t do non-paying work for others anymore – a massive drain on one’s energy.
What qualities does being in your role necessitate?
Having spent most of my life being in charge of others, I guess I am a leader. It either comes naturally or it doesn’t. This is what I saw when employing people, you can create good managers but you can’t make leaders. Humility is needed in bosses too.
Any final comments?
I would love to see more women higher up in the property world. I also left architecture because it was so pale and male. Maybe it’s changing? I grew up believing I could do anything I wanted to and I have instilled the same into my daughter.