JOBS & CAREERS SPRING 2018 - 35
G U E ST E D I T O R
I knew he wanted to be involved in sport in some way. It wasn't
long after the Premier League had launched and I could see there
was a business opportunity in growing a football club and turning
its fortunes around. When Birmingham City FC came up for sale,
I suggested on the Friday that he bought it - by the Monday he
owned it and had asked me to run it.
Why did you want to run a football club? How
were you so confident in your own ability at
such a young age?
I genuinely believed I could galvanise the club and turn it around.
Birmingham City had a history of strong support, it was in a large
conurbation that was home to Premier League teams - those were
the main motivations.
At 23 I was thick-skinned and thought I could do anything. I
probably thought, "I'm going to go for it" and I did. I rolled up my
sleeves and got on with it.
How were you treated by others working in
the football world?
Women weren't allowed in football club board rooms in 1993 -
they were only allowed in the Lady's Room. I always say that's the
first door I kicked open and then I held it open to let as many
women through as possible.
There was a general view that there was no place for women in
football, but I didn't let it bother me - I had a job to do and I
concentrated on doing it. I wasn't interested in winning a
personality contest and I certainly wasn't going to be intimidated.
I ignored the comments and ploughed on.
Do you think other people's attitudes spurred
you on to prove yourself?
I don't really remember - it's 25 years ago now! - but I don't think
so. I was learning about a business - I was running something and
was instigating change to turn the club's fortunes around. It was
tough, but it was the biggest learning curve I've ever had.
Have you always had a plan when it comes to
I believe that if you do a job well enough, the next opportunity
will come along. I've always thrown myself 100% into whatever
I've agreed to do. It really helps if you like what you do. A career
lasts a lifetime, so you need to get into something you enjoy.
For me, nothing compares to turning a business around. In the
Birmingham City days I was young, single, I had no family. It was
everything I wanted to do and more.
What is your proudest achievement so far?
One was being awarded a CBE for services to entrepreneurship
and championing women in business in 2014. Encouraging
women in business is such a passion of mine. Another was floating
Birmingham City FC in 1997 and being the youngest MD of a PLC
in the country. Being appointed to the House of Lords as a
Conservative life peer in August 2014 was another milestone.
Was it always your intention to be a champion
for women in business?
When I started at Birmingham City, I became more and more
infuriated by the way women were treated in football - there were
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