Karren Brady's career advice to a working mum who wants to further her career

APPRENTICE star and West Ham United vice-chair Karren Brady answers your careers questions and meets an inspirational CEO.

She gives advice to career advice to a working mum who wants to know how to further her career.

Q) Seven years ago, I made the decision to spend more time with my children so I took a role below my previous responsibilities. But now, although I enjoy my work/life balance, I want to move forward with my career.

However, my boss never asks how I am getting on, what I want to do, or where I want to end up. I’ve tried having conversations with her, including in my appraisal, but I get nowhere.

It feels like she doesn’t want me to leave (which I know I should see as a good thing!) as I’m good at my job, but I’m treading water. I’m doing a further education course to enhance my skills, but is there anything else you can suggest?

Anna, via email 

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A) “Working mother” is the most important job title I have, so I respect you for making the changes you felt you needed to balance your home and work life. But now it’s great you’re ready to further your career. You need to take control of the conversations with your boss.

Don’t wait for her to ask you all those questions – tell her the answers anyway! Write yourself a development plan that includes all of your successes in your current role, where you are over-delivering, areas of development, and what extra responsibilities you’d like.

Look at what role you want to be promoted to in the future, and note what skills and experience you need to be the strongest candidate, then focus your development plan around those.

If you don’t think your boss will be supportive enough, ask for a meeting with both her and your HR manager. You will need their support, so it’s a great opportunity to showcase how passionate, committed and motivated you are.

Got a careers question for Karren? Email bossingit@fabulousmag.co.uk.

Be a boss

Bossing It is Fabulous’ series about ordinary women who have launched incredible businesses.

It aims to inspire other women and show that if these ladies can do it, so can you!

Read more at Thesun.co.uk/topic/bossing-it.

A day in the life of…

Claire Davenport, 49, is CEO of Notonthehighstreet.com. She lives in Oxford with her husband Sam, 56, a stay-at-home dad, and daughters Hazel, 16, and Gabby, 14.

 I get up at… 7am and if I’m not commuting to our Richmond office, I’ll do an online yoga class or join my local running group, which is full of Oxford professors. Listening to their amazing theories wakes my brain up! At home, I’ll grab a coffee, read the papers and wave the kids off to school. Being the breadwinner is a responsibility, but for much of my career I’ve had long commutes, so our set-up works.

A normal day involves… Of the 5,000 small, creative, British-based businesses we work with, 80% are run by females. I talk to them about development, support them with marketing, branding and finding customers. I love lifting other people up.

In February, investors bought the company, so I keep them updated and ensure my executive team is communicating, then at lunch I often run leadership and innovation sessions with other companies over Zoom. The afternoon might include some in-house leadership training or I’ll host a video call for partners.

Five years ago, I set up Witsend.online with eight women – including the CEO of Channel 4 – to cheer on females in tech and digital companies. We now support 150 women. I’m also a mentor with the Social Mobility Foundation, and each evening at 6.15pm I walk four miles while telephone-mentoring people about business and careers.

My drive is normalising women in leadership so youngsters think: “I can do that”. I went to a comprehensive school in the Midlands and I hate thinking that people are restricted by their background.

The best part of my job is… After a physiology degree, I spent 10 years in investment banking before working as chief of staff for Skype and running Hello Fresh in the UK. Working now for a company with so much purpose, helping businesses thrive and grow, is wonderful.

And the worst… Having to sleep! I’ve got so many ideas and want to do more.

I wind down by… After dinner, we’ll watch a programme like Bake Off, and at 10pm my Fitbit tells me to go to bed. I have no difficulty dropping off!

  • To buy from small businesses, visit Notonthehighstreet.com. 

Claire Frost & Gemma Calvert. Photography: Mark Hayman.

Karren cannot answer emails personally. Content is intended as general guidance only and does not constitute legal advice.

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