Big business

A company director at the age of 20, the first female club owner in the Football League, author, columnist and Lord Sugar’s right-hand woman – it goes without saying that Karren Brady’s one of the hardest working women in business! We found out more about her working life…

You’ve had an incredible career – what’s the secret of your success?

Three things really – hard work, determination and ambition.

How would you describe your job?

Exciting and varied. As well as the “day-job” of being vice-chairman of West Ham United, I am a non-executive director of Arcadia and a consultant for Simon Cowell’s company Syco. I also write my newspaper column in the Sun and represent various charities and other organisations. Then I spend a few weeks a year filming The Apprentice.

What’s a typical day like for you?

I know it’s a cliché but no two days are ever the same. A typical day could include anything from board meetings at one of the number of companies I’m involved with, player contract negotiations, appraisals with my staff at West Ham United or filming The Apprentice. My days are very long. To fit all of this in, I work pretty much constantly!

You started out in radio advertising sales – how did you go from there to football?

After impressing David Sullivan whilst working for the London Broadcasting Company, he offered me a job at Sports Newspapers and I became a Director. After seeing that Birmingham City was up for sale I managed to persuade David to buy the club and let me run it.

What essential piece of kit helps you get through the day?

I get more than 500 emails a day so I always have my Blackberry in hand to keep up when I’m on the road

What’s the best advice you’ve been given?

When I first got into football, David Dein said to me: “If you’re going to be successful in football, you’ve got to remember two things: never let your heart rule your head and never believe your manager when he says, ‘Just one more player?’”

Out of all the projects you’ve been involved in, what’s been the most rewarding?

As a result of the hard work that I did at Birmingham City, the Club made a trading profit for the first time in its modern history. That was hugely important for me because I had to make my mark as a young woman in football. It showed I could deliver and I felt it was just rewards for my relentless energy.

You’ve also become a TV personality through the Apprentice. What do you enjoy about working on the show?

I absolutely love every minute of it. It is so amazing to be invited on to the show you love most on TV, and to work so closely with Alan.

What advice would you give to a young person who’s making decisions about their future?

Never give up. At the age of 18 I was rejected for a journalism course in Harlow but I never let it defeat me and I was soon applying elsewhere to get where I wanted.

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