WE’RE AT THE TOP OF OUR GAME What it takes to achieve success
Just what does it take to be the best in your field? Three trailblazing leaders who’ve smashed glass ceilings and broken down barriers tell Cyan Turan how they made it, and what we can learn from their success
‘The SAFEST route is often the RISKIEST if you’re not EXCITED enough to succeed’
‘Iwas 25 and had just returned from my first maternity leave when I was passed over for promotion. My boss said, “There’s nothing wrong with your performance, but there’s doubt over your commitment with a baby.” I was bewildered. I was the only woman in a 16-strong team, but I thought my progress would be based on my hard work, not my gender. Thankfully, over my 30-year career, things have improved dramatically.
I studied philosophy at Cambridge and fell into finance by fluke, winning a traineeship at Schroders after graduation. I spent two years in New York, returned to London, got married and had my first child.
When I didn’t get promoted, I left and joined Newton, where I was mentored by the founder, Stewart Newton. When I announced another pregnancy and a colleague expressed exasperation, Stewart said, “Don’t worry, she comes back better each time!” After seven years at Newton, I was offered the CEO job. It was the making of my career.
I’m not ashamed to describe myself as a “feminine” leader. I try to build consensus and be empathetic; I don’t have all the answers. I set up the 30% Club to promote women on boards when I realised we needed a goal by which we could measure progress. The experience taught me how to effect change.
Richard and I have nine children. After our fourth was born, he gave up his career to care for them. Having a supportive partner has been essential; couples can have two careers, but sharing responsibilities is the next step towards equality. After all, men might not want to work like their fathers did. Besides, Richard prefers the ‘advisory’ role, whereas I’ve always been driven – I was a manic Brownie aged seven!
I find it hard to imagine stopping work, but as children get older, they don’t get less needy. I have a grandson now, so it would be nice to have more time with him. Not seeing my children during the week wouldn’t work for our family, so I keep travel down to a maximum of three nights away. I wake at 5am and after showering, laundry and home admin, I write our family whiteboard for the day. At 6.20am I wake the children and Richard, give them breakfast and get them ready for school before leaving for the office.
At the beginning of my career, I worried about what might go wrong, but you shouldn’t let fear stop you. I wish I’d had more confidence to try to influence change at the start. Now, I tell my children to dream big; the safest route is often the riskiest if you’re not excited enough to succeed.
Careers are labyrinths, not ladders – sometimes they go backwards. When I decided to leave Newton, I wasn’t sure what I was going to do, but it was time for me and the company to move on. You can’t be the right leader for ever. A year ago, I joined Legal & General Investment Management as head of personal investing. I wanted to take my leadership skills and lessons about effecting change from the 30% Club and unite them. Now, I work on the fund offering and bigger issues, including persuading people – especially women – that investing can be for them. I also led the launch of Legal & General’s Own Your World campaign to encourage people to invest in companies that care about diversity and the environment. I won’t rest until I’ve made change happen.’ ◆
Dame Helena Morrissey, 52, spent 15 years as CEO of Newton Investment Management, before becoming head of personal investing at Legal & General Investment Management in 2017. She lives in London with husband Richard and their nine children.
‘I wake up at 5am to write the family whiteboard for the day’
Dame Bobbie Cheema-grubb, 52, made history when she became the first Asian woman to be appointed a UK High Court judge. She lives in London with her husband, Russell, an artist. They have three children. ‘Justice is not justice if it’s limited to certain types of people’
‘SEEING someone who looks like you in a POWERFUL job is ENCOURAGING’
‘Igrew up in Yorkshire, where my dad did manual work and my mum was a seamstress. They came to England in the 1960s from Punjab, India, and couldn’t speak English well, so they would take me to meetings with the council or employers to translate. I felt a keen sense of other people’s stereotypes and this was my first experience of justice and injustice, though I didn’t call it that then.
As a teenager, I volunteered in a law centre in Leeds. People would come in with tenancy problems or if a child was being kept out of school. I saw first-hand how law could be a practical, flexible and creative way of finding solutions. I studied law at university, realised I loved advocacy, decided a career as a criminal law barrister was for me and was called to the Bar in 1989. The most satisfying moments are when you help 12 jurors understand complex areas of law. I prosecuted an intellectual property fraud case with a nine-month trial; some said the jury couldn’t handle it, but during my closing speech I referred to international money transfers and contracts and they all reached for the correct bundles. I feel delighted when I help the law make sense to the jury.
As I progressed, I couldn’t see anyone who looked like me, but because I had no expectation I would achieve any particular success, I was fearless. That’s not to say there haven’t been hard times. As a junior barrister, I was sent to represent a man, but when I pulled down the opening on his cell, he said, “I don’t want you.” I thought, “What am I doing here?” But I took a deep breath and said, “I’m all you’ve got.” In the end, I represented him. What’s carried many of us who are a bit different through the justice system is the idea that justice is not justice if it’s limited to certain types of people.
In 2015, I was appointed as a High Court judge, the first Asian woman in the role. I was honoured, but see it as part of a tide lifting many women into the High Court judiciary; now, there are 22, up from five in 2008. That said, I’m not insensitive to the positive impact of my appointment. Seeing someone who looks like you in a powerful job is encouraging.
The judge’s job is to be dispassionate, mature and wise. I tried the Finsbury Park terrorist attack case and after sentencing I said, “We must respond to evil with good.” As judges, we speak powerful words and that’s a heavy responsibility. A healthy personal life, with family and hobbies, makes a real contribution to doing the job well.
I have three children – two at university and one doing A levels. When they were young, my husband volunteered to look after them. Back then, he was the only father at the school gates, and I felt I missed out. Compartmentalising helped. Our front door was a meridian line: once I walked out in the morning, I was in work mode, but as soon as I returned, I would be present and ready to run around with the babies. You have to be flexible, and forgiving of yourself and others.
Most days I’m in my office at the Royal Courts of Justice or in court trying highprofile cases. I am also responsible for magistrates’ training. There’s reading to do, judgements to write and appeals to consider. It might look like I’ve climbed to the highest rung of the ladder, but I want to keep commanding the confidence of everyone who appears in front of me.’ ◆
Apply to become a magistrate at judiciary.uk or gov.uk/become-magistrate
Jo Malone CBE, 54, started her fragrance company aged just 22. It went on to become one of the most recognisable brands on the high street. She sold the company to Estée Lauder in 1999 and in 2011 started Jo Loves. Her husband, Gary, is her business partner, and they live with their son in London.
‘When I was eight, I helped my artist dad sell paintings on his market stall. As we left the house, Mum would say, “If you don’t sell, there’s nothing to eat.” It was a matter of survival, and I’ve never lost that sense of accomplishment at making a sale, or appreciation for the customer.
I started Jo Malone when I was 22 and newly married. It began when I was a facialist and sent bath oils as thank you gifts to clients, but it was seven years before Gary and I opened our shop on London’s Walton Street in 1994.
I’m dyslexic, but I’ve always believed that what life takes with one hand, it gives back with the other. From an early age, I had an acute sense of smell, but it wasn’t until my 20s that I realised my ability to lock a smell in the little library in my head and retrieve the memory whenever I want is unique. To me, cashmere smells like a caramelised wood amber! That gift has got me where I am today. Once, my son gave me a card saying, “Sometimes it is the people no one can imagine anything of who do the things no one can imagine.”
Gary and I loved sharing the adventure, and he came up with genius ideas. When we were launching Jo Malone at Bergdorf Goodman’s in New York, we had lots of branded bags but no marketing budget. He said, “Why don’t we ask friends to walk within six blocks of Bergdorf’s carrying the [empty] bags?” So we did. When we opened, people recognised the brand. We called it “walking the dog” and it cost nothing.
In 1999, I fought breast cancer. When I returned to Jo Malone, the job felt like work for the first time and I couldn’t reconnect. My son was four and I thought, “If I’ve got two years left, I don’t want to be travelling the world for work.” I decided to leave. Four months later, I realised I’d made the wrong decision, but it was too late.
At first I enjoyed the holidays, but my mind was soon bubbling. Could I open a vineyard? Spend my money helping orangutans in Borneo? I tried TV and helping other entrepreneurs – but nothing fulfilled me like creating fragrance. When I walked away from Jo Malone, I had no intention of building another business. I wanted a job, but no one offered. I was desperate to work and, five years after I left, I was bottling chilli sauce in my garden when I realised I had to give scent one more go.
What followed were the hardest two years of my life. We launched Jo Loves in 2011, but it was much harder than starting Jo Malone and I made mistakes: I assumed I could step back into the market in the same place I left, but I had to work my way back up. I thought people knew I’d left Jo Malone, but they didn’t. Each misstep, though, taught me to trust my gut. Passion, resilience and creativity are the qualities that make a brilliant entrepreneur, and the resilience I’d built when I was younger kicked in. Now, Jo Loves has 20 staff, one shop and 60 outlets in the likes of Space NK and Sephora. I’m involved in every aspect of the business. I’m often in the office and still smell and memorise for two hours every day. When it comes to dreaming up scents, I don’t let markets dictate. Inspiration might come from a beautiful picture, sculpture, or an orange blossom tree on a May morning; I’ll then create that moment in fragrance.
This year, I was honoured with a CBE and launched my first eponymous fragrance, Jo by Jo Loves. Now, I’m looking forward to my next chapter. I want to see entrepreneurialism taught on the national curriculum from ages seven to 17 because those who aren’t academic are often the ones with pioneering minds who change the world.’
‘Passion, resilience and CREATIVITY are the QUALITIES that make a BRILLIANT entrepreneur’
◆ Jo by Jo Loves is available now at joloves.com ‘Nothing fulfils me like creating fragrance’