Kicking the Door Down for Women

Feb 25, 2018

Baroness Karen Brady’s Masterclass was much anticipated, having been rescheduled from March – but it was worth the wait! Despite her diminutive size, she packed a whole lot of punch into a very short amount of time.

Her story, from choosing to go to work instead of University through to being in the House of Lords and running a £1bn company in a male dominated environment today, consistently showed that from a young age she simply had BALLS.And as she said herself “Its all about the Balls!”As the first female director of a Football Club, she admits to “kicking the door down” for women in football and the board room – wedging it open behind her to make sure others could follow.West Ham Football Club (of which I am a much tortured fan!) has a senior management team that is 75% women – so she practices exactly what she preaches!

Throughout her speech and the Q&A session she was frank and open – there were some common themes thoughout.She has some great messages for today’s young (and older) women that I wish I had heard at school.


This was her mantra.To go boldly, ignore others opinions, take risks and back yourself (because no one else will).


This was her success factor in business.When she took over Birmingham City Football Club the staff had no drive, no ambition, no computers (anywhere) and no idea it was a business.Karen knew there were 3 types of people –

  • People who make things happen,
  • People who watch things happen and
  • People who wonder what happens.

Having a good culture in your organisation is about Leadership (different from management) and Communication.If the staff know where the business is going, how they can help it get there and, importantly, what their reward is for helping the business achieve its goals then you can motivate and lead them.To create a great team in your business means having everyone thinking of ways to make your business work better.In short everyone has to do everthing in their skill set to make the business a success.


Karen’s personal values, which she recognised at a young age are:

  • Ambition
  • Determination
  • Integrity

These have helped her along the path to success.

She had 6 ingredients to Successful Entrepreneurship:

  • Leadership – which she described as facing the music, having vision, doing what needs to be done even if you don’t want to, know where you stand and making a stand.
  • Ambition – no-one starts without ambition but finishing needs hardwork.The toughest thing about success is staying there.
  • Determination – especially in the face of failure.How you respond to failure determines what success you will get in life.Being able to grit your teeth and push through is key.
  • Attitude – if you cant change something then change your attitude towards it.And always think “Whats the worst thing that could happen?”
  • Direction – “the whole world steps aside for the person who knows where they are going”.Be clear on where you are going and get going in that direction.
  • Be Positive – true success is about hanging on when everyone else has let go.Nothing take the place of persistence.

Her life lessons in the Q&A were a rich source of wisdom and advice.She decided to become the best version of herself at a young age and the advice she gave to others is:

  • Do your best
  • Be focused
  • Champion your career
  • Be confident in who you are

Her recommended book is Claude Littner’s biography “Single-Minded – My Life in Business”

She had so many nuggets, but to sign off here’s just one “You can’t determine where you start in life, but you can determine where you end up” SO TRUE!

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