Today, speakers ranged from Kleinwort Benson CEO, Sally Tennant to beautiful hedge fund saleswoman-fashion designer, Britt Lintner. There was much discussion on the topic of female board quotas (something I ardently oppose) and debates on whether a glass ceiling actually exists (something I also dispute). But for me, the highlight of the day was the closing keynote speech by ever-enchanting business owner and writer, Heather McGregor.
Heather is one of those seriously impressive women who we all want to emulate. She has three children, a successful company, a pilot’s license, a PhD and a weekly column in the Financial Times. She somehow also manages to write books, do stand-up comedy, sit on numerous charity boards and teach at LBS and Cass Business School.
She challenged the female audience to “own their choices.” Whether running a listed company or household, she doesn’t support part-time work. For working women, she passionately champions outsourcing (incidentally, so does my husband) and supports declining invitations that do not align with priorities. “Do a few things well,” she says, “not everything badly.”
She also keenly promotes having a third dimension outside of work and home life, something that my classmates have increasingly received questions about in interviews. Heather famously earned her pilots license at age 46 (and flew herself back to London this morning from another conference in Wales). “Why would a CEO at a dinner party find it interesting to hear about your kids the whole night,” she challenged the audience. The answer is clearly he or she wouldn’t.
About a month ago, I attended an entrepreneurship event at LBS with Verne Harnish, “The Growth Guy”. Verne has successfully coached many well-known businesses and rallied the audience around entrepreneurship the way an American football coach might. In fact his session reminded me of the sports speakers that I used to hear in my past life as an elite gymnast in the US. He is a firm believer in mentors for entrepreneurs. “Find the smartest people you know and make them your mentors,” he told us. “Get them to pick up the phone and have coffee with you.”
Well, Heather, you better watch out. After today, I am after you. You can thank Verne, the fantastic organizers of the conference or your own rousing networking breakout session. In any case, “the girl with the stripped dress” is coming knocking on your door.
MBA students need mentors, especially those entering the challenging world of entrepreneurship, and as an inspiring female angel investor said at LBS a few weeks back, entrepreneurs must find mentors who they really relate to. Well, Heather, we both have ties to LBS, our own businesses and a third dimension. I teach yoga and am a staunch fan of musical theatre. Surely these qualify, right?
Brynne Herbert is an MBA student at London Business School and the founder and CEO of MOVE Guides, a web and mobile platform for global relocation and lifestyle. MOVE Guides produces hip and handy printed books and mobile apps and will soon launch THE MOVEMENT, the world’s most stylish location-based web community. To find out more, visit www.moveguidesonline.com and follow us on Twitter at @moveguides