Kathryn Parsons – Co-founder and Co-CEO of Decoded

KathrynParsonsBroadMinded

What motivates you?

Creativity in all its forms. Entrepreneurship and code are my creative outlets. Taking an idea, making it real and seeing the positive impact it can have on people. Empowering people with knowledge and confidence every day is an amazing experience.

What has been the biggest learning curve in your career?

It started with a simple mission, could you teach anyone code in a day? Plus a £27 marketing budget 😉 every day has been a learning curve. Launching hacker in a day, launching in New York, campaigning for code on the curriculum. May the learning never end!

What matters more, ambition or talent?

Talent. Every time.

What advice would you give to your 30 year old self?

It will get better. Far better. Beyond your wildest dreams better.

Who do you admire?

My mother. My entrepreneurial inspiration, loving, kind, crazy, my best friend.

In what place are you happiest?

Big sur. Hampstead heath. La. Marlow. Lots of happy places! Bed trumps all.

What’s your biggest extravagance?

Blow drys. Uber. Champagne. Usually in that order.

Do you believe in quotas?

No. But as a woman I’d think twice about joining a company with poor female representation at the top. It says they simply don’t think there’s a woman good enough for the role. That means they think you’re not good enough. Don’t give them your precious minds or days. Vote with your employment.

Describe yourself in 3 words?

Dreamer. Doer. Doodler.

Advertisements

Margaret McCabe – Founder and CEO of Debate Mate, an international educational charity

MargaretMcCabeBroadMinded

What motivates you?

Social injustice

What has been the biggest learning curve in your career?

Becoming a single parent aged 27, when I was a barrister, and realising that the playing field is not level.

What matters more, ambition or talent?

You have to have talent but what matters more is determination. Determination gets you everywhere.

What advice would you give to your 30 year old self?

Trust your instincts. Smile a lot. Buy good accessories. Write a thank-you letter.

Who do you admire?

Oprah Winfrey – she has come from nothing to become one of the most successful business-women in the world. She believes in the power of the skills that debating teaches.

In what place are you happiest?

With my debate mate kids and in Jamaica.

What’s your biggest extravagance?

Shoes (Prada and Jimmy Choo) and handbags (Chanel and Prada)

How would you change government policy to help women in the workplace?

Equal pay is equal power. Once you get equal pay, everything else will fall into place.

Do you believe in quotas?

Yes, you need affirmative action.

Describe yourself in 3 words?

Fierce. Fearless. Fun.

Karen Mattison MBE – Joint CEO of flexible-work recruitment firm Timewise

KarenMattison-BroadMinded

What motivates you?

Belief that what I am doing makes a difference and is improving the world in some way….however small.  For the past ten years that has been about growing the recruitment market for people who want or need flexible work.

What has been the biggest learning curve in your career?

Learning to ignore the voice that tells me i can’t.

What matters more, ambition or talent?

Well….both – mixed in with a very good work ethic. That’s a killer combination!

What advice would you give to your 30 year old self?

Success is for you to define for yourself – not let others do it for you.  Just because you can do something, doesn’t mean you should…. so surf your own wave and stop worrying about what track everyone else is on.

Who do you admire?

My co-founder Emma Stewart – calm, intelligent, innovative, modest…and an amazing person to have worked closely with for ten years

In what place are you happiest?

Looking at the sea

What’s your biggest extravagance?

Mmmm well I just bought a hot tub for the garden…and it is amazing

How would you change government policy to help women in the workplace?

I would publish data on job vacancies that are advertised as ‘open to flexibility’; and ensure that government looked at its own hiring too!

Do you believe in quotas?

No, but I believe in lots and lots of monitoring

Describe yourself in 3 words?

Positive, energetic, connector.

Louise Cox Chester – Founder of Mindfulness at Work

2955773

What motivates you?

Creating value with my life.

What has been the biggest learning curve in your career?

Having my daughter – now 12.

What matters more: ambition or talent?

Purpose

What advice would you give to your 30 year old self?

Retain your integrity no matter what – your reputation is the only legacy that matters.

Who do you admire? 

Any person who has the courage to truly be themselves and inspire and help others through their actions.

In what place are you happiest?

Walking on Sandwich Bay

What’s your biggest extravagance?

Organic food, very fast cars and turning left on planes

How would you change government policy to help women in the workplace?

Free quality childcare

Do you believe in quotas?

I’m undecided.

What is the greatest achievement of your life so far?

Way above all the accolades and global roles in the City are bringing up my daughter to be happy and know that kindness is the most important attribute to have –  and setting up Mindfulness at Work of course!

What ambitions do you still have?

To help hundreds of thousands of people to learn the skills of mindfulness as a way of enabling them to fulfil their potential and thrive in all areas of their life.

How would you describe yourself in three words?  

Courageous conscious connector.

Vanessa Vallely – Founder of leading women’s network WeAreTheCity

Photo©John Cassidy The Headshot Guy® www.theheadshotguy.co.uk 07768 401009

What motivates you?

Any form of unfairness in society or lack of equality motivates me to drive change. I am a very passionate person, and once I get my teeth into something I don’t stop until it’s done and done well. I am lucky enough to be very motivated by what I do for a living, so work isn’t work to me at all. I get to work with individuals I deeply admire and for causes that are very close to my heart like gender equality and youth empowerment.

What has been the biggest learning curve in your career?

Leaving the corporate world and starting my own business has been my biggest learning curve. I honestly thought after 25 years in finance that I knew almost everything there was to know but I was wrong. I learn, I make mistakes and am often stretched far beyond my capabilities, but I wouldn’t go back and change a thing. I truly believe that I am where I am meant to be, doing what I do for good reason.

What matters more: ambition or talent?

I think a bit of both. I can honestly say I got by for the first 10 years of my career based on ambition. This led to opportunities to learn and grow which showed me where my talents really are. When I first started to work ambition was a dirty word and came with all sorts of negative connotations, but I never saw my ambition as something to be ashamed off. I had a career plan and part of that plan was to achieve success, albeit my own definition of success.

What advice would you give to your 30 year old self?

I would tell myself not to adopt elements of anyone else’s brand and stick to my own! I look back to my 30s and realise I was trying to be someone I thought I needed to be in order to fit in with the environment I was in.   I would also advise myself not to be too hard on myself and to stop trying to be a superwoman. When I was 30 I was rising in my career whilst trying to bring up a young family. I wasted a lot of time feeling guilty because I couldn’t be everything to everyone!

Who do you admire?

The list is endless. There are many women and men across the City I admire from afar. The common elements between these individuals are their passion, tenacity and sheer drive to fight for their respective causes. It’s people like Helena Morrissey of the 30% Club, Andy Woodfield who is a Partner at PWC & Founder of GLEE, Heather Melville who is chair of RBS Focused Women, Paul Sesay who founded the National Diversity awards, Sue O Brien who is CEO of Norman Broadbent – I could go on!

In what place are you happiest?

I am happiest when I am at home with my family, working in schools or on the rare occasion when I get time to run.

What’s your biggest extravagance?

I own about 100 pairs of shoes – they are definitely an extravagance of mine. My 4 month old pup stole a pair of my prized Louboutins from my wardrobe this weekend, which he then went on to eat! There was almost a pup for sale.

How would you change government policy to help women in the workplace?

We need more tax relief for working families to alleviate the rising cost of childcare. So many women are forced to give up work because of escalating childcare costs. Something needs to be done if we are to retain female talent in the workforce who chose to have career and family.

Do you believe in quotas?

Absolutely not. I believe that women can and should get the top jobs on merit. I understand the desire for quotas, though. You only have to look at the most recent FTSE stats for women on boards to see that we are making progress at 23% now, but it’s still slower than we would like and only 8.3% are Executive Directors.

What is the greatest achievement of your life so far?

My greatest achievement is my two children and completing my 40 before 40.   I complied a list of various things I had never done prior to my 40th birthday. It included things like visiting Buckingham Palace, running the London Marathon, writing my book, speaking in the Middle East and going to Las Vegas. I managed to complete my entire list in one year so I then spent 2013 sleeping it off!

Helen Fraser – Chief Executive of The Girls’ Day School Trust, the UK’s leading network of independent girls’ schools

The Baileys Women's Prize for Fiction 2014 - Judge.

What motivates you?

Working with great people, seeing talent develop, watching people hit their stride at work and in life

What has been the biggest learning curve in your career?  

Coming into the Girls’ Day School Trust, after 37 years in book publishing (last job MD of Penguin Books) and finding I had so much to learn – about education and about what works in schools and at work for young women

What matters more, ambition or talent?  

I think talent is pretty important.  I’ve always thought that you should surround yourself with the best people you could possibly work with – and that way you can get great things to happen in an organisation.  Attitude is important too – courage, and determination.  Pure ambition can get in its own way.

What advice would you give to your 30 year old self?  

‘You will be able to combine motherhood with a career – don’t worry about it so much’

Who do you admire?

I admire women who step where other women haven’t – Marjorie Scardino as the first ceo of a Footsie 100 company, Libby Lane as the first woman bishop – it’s never easy being the first and only

In what place are you happiest? 

On summer holidays with my husband, daughters, step daughters, their partners and my six step grandchildren – 15 in all

What’s your biggest extravagance? 

I have one or two shops whose clothes I really like . I know if I go in there I’ll buy something

How would you change government policy to help women in the workplace?

I’m not sure there is a lot more the government can do – we’ve had an equality act for decades.  I think it is about changing attitudes in organisations – and recruiting, retaining and promoting more women so that there is a real pipeline of talent between 30 and 50

Do you believe in quotas? 

I do – for now.  It is hard to see at the current glacial pace how we will get to 50:50 on company boards before I am dead.  I think it is also really important that there are more executive women directors as well as non-execs.

Describe yourself in 3 words? 

Optimistic, energetic, happy

Dame Stephanie Shirley – Tech entrepreneur and Philanthropist

th-1

What motivates you? 

My motivation stems from my child refugee days, when I was saved from Nazi Germany in the Kinderstransport. I determined at a young age to embrace change and make mine a life that was worthy of being saved.

What has been the biggest learning curve in your career? 

I learnt the most, the fastest, during the 1970s recession. Till then, the market had helped to carry my company forward; suddenly, the task was like that of a liquidator: to concentrate on essentials. I’ve kept myself focussed ever since.

Ambition or talent?

There are more measures of success than profit and mine was a social business. Yes, talent helps but ambition is less important than perseverance and motivation.

What advice would you give to your 30 year old self?

Another 50 years to go! So make sure you spend them on worthwhile things that you enjoy doing.

Who do you admire?

People who have known sorrow such as Nelson Mandela and Mother Teresa. And Sir Stephen Hawking, amazingly still enjoying life.

In what place are you happiest? 

Place isn’t as important to me as people. So long as I’m with my husband of now well over 50 years, I’m happy.

What’s your biggest extravagance? 

My Friday evening massages.

How would you change government policy to help women in the workplace? 

With better provision of childcare.

Do you believe in quotas?

I used to loathe the idea of quotas (who wants to be a “token” woman?). But then I began to have doubts. Eventually, I realised that without quotas progress will remain slow. But I still don’t like them.

Describe myself in 3 words? 

Inspirational. Hard/working.