How did you start out?

After graduating, I got a job in a large tour operator in London. I had planned an academic career, but then I decided the commercial world needed feminists! Working for that company and a second major travel company – American Express – in my early career gave me fantastic training and the chance to observe some successful women in business. I got interested in marketing after about 5 years and did two marketing qualifications through evening classes so I could move in that direction.

What helped you get as far as you have?

I think a basic intelligence and common sense, combined with hard work and a calm disposition. I prefer to influence through rational argument, and I use humour to diffuse situations. I thrive on challenges and I like to do things well. I also have a network of high- achieving and well-balanced friends who keep me energised and grounded.

What piece of advice would you give to your 21-year-old self?

I’d encourage my younger self to be more confident and assertive! I learned later in life that I’m an introvert and how that impacts on my behaviour. I have to remember to push myself forward sometimes.

A low point in your career/life and how you overcame it?

It was when Pitman Central College closed. Although I’d left the company by then and it closed because of the strategy of the new owners, not the very good English language department I’d worked for, I still felt associated with something that had failed. It just made me more determined to succeed in my future career.

One word to describe yourself?


Your first paying job: What and when?

I had a Saturday job in a hairdresser’s in my teens. Unfortunately I was sacked on my first day for not washing someone’s hair properly. It taught me a hard but useful lesson about the working world – don’t count on second chances.

What do you do to keep yourself centered?

Tennis, yoga and walking for my physical well-being. For mental equilibrium I enjoy all the arts, but especially cinema and literature, and I take an interest in world affairs. Watching the news every day, I really appreciate the life I have.

What would your superpower be?

To turn aggressive people into pussycats. Literally, not metaphorically, so there will be rather a lot of cats around...

Which of your achievements are you most proud of?

On balance, I have to say the work I did for the Frankfurter Allgemeine, translating articles about scandals in international athletics. Firstly it was great to win a place on that translation team at all, and then I became one of their specialists on politics in sport. So I did my tiny bit to bring crimes such as corruption and the use of performance enhancing drugs on teenage athletes to public attention. It’s something my father, had he lived, would have been proud of.