International business woman Debra Ward provides an insight into the challenges and opportunities for women in business today.
What will be the biggest challenge for the generation of women behind you?
- Confidence – not just for women though – lots of people grow up thinking they were special, that they could have anything, that even coming in last deserves a medal in a world of instant gratification all underpinned by fast moving technology that feeds or destroys your selfesteem (Facebook, Snapchat, Whatsapp). Then they hit the real world where you can’t have everything you want instantaneously, you don’t get a medal for coming in last and it takes hard work to achieve.
- Letting go of the Cinderella concept – men are so much better at sharing the household responsibilities but women still fed the “knight in shining armor” story which is challenging for both sexes
What was your dream job as a child and why?
Being a doctor so I could help people anywhere in the world.
What is the best and worst decision you’ve ever made?
Best – To take a risk on a startup company and on myself
Worst – In my younger years – to accept bullying and sexism in the workplace as simply the way things are in corporate world
How do you motivate yourself and stay motivated?
- My kids
- Removing or reducing negativity from my life – TV, Newspapers, technology, people
If you could tell your younger self one thing you know about business now, what would it be?
- Hone a skill
- Work hard
- Have fun
- Be brave – Take a chance on yourself
- Respect yourself enough to not take any crap
- Removing yourself from uncomfortable situations doesn’t change the situation
What’s an accomplishment that you are proudest of?
- Not irrevocably screwing up my children
- Creating, starting and building Mitie Client Services – not just the company but the ethos, the continuous learning for all of us, the culture, developing people, concepts and ideas, giving back to the communities, working hard together, celebrating success, finding the good… Collectively creating exceptional memorable experiences…
Who is your role model, and why?
Hard to find in today’s world… the Obama’s. Intelligent, articulate, courageous, they never shied away from the tough stuff, they maintained dignity and decorum even when their counterparts didn’t deserve it, they held true to their values in the face of great scrutiny and adversity.
What would be your advice for women who are building careers in the industry you work in?
Never stop learning, be brave, work hard, protect your personal time, take people with you on the journey, have fun and celebrate.
What’s your own personal mantra?
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”
I am not sure if it’s a mantra but I find myself reverting to this quote from Marianne Williamson as guidance quite often
What do you think makes a successful leader?
Debra was named the 2015 Women of Achievement winner by Women in the City, and one of the top 10 people in Facilities Management by RICs. Her international career is dedicated to service excellence, and she has a proven track record for building, operating and rescuing businesses.
With a strong academic background with an MBA, ADP and Diploma in Executive coaching. Debra has held various managerial roles in the food and hotel management industry and was the Chair of Women in FM in the UK between 2013-2014. She has an international background, having worked in six countries on three continents, and previously led her own company, live love learn for seven years as a service and organisational change consultant and executive within the hospitality and facilities industries.