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Business

Leadersmithing – TEDx Durham University

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Speech at TEDx, Durham, 11th March 2017 (watch here)

Hello. You’re probably wondering what’s with the pearls. Well, pearls have a dirty secret, and I’m here to tell you about it. It’s all about the pearls. So if you only remember one thing about this talk, remember the pearls.

Pearls are associated with such glamour, aren’t they? I inherited my first set, from a great grandmother who had been brought up at Hampton Court Palace. My second set were from Hatton Garden, given to me by my boyfriend when we worked next door at Deloitte Consulting. I bought my third set in Beijing when I took our Ashridge MBA students out there on a study trip.

But their glamour is hard-won. They have grit in their hearts. Their beauty and lustre is the result of a defence mechanism, designed to protect the oyster against a threatening irritant. I’m from Scotland, and in Scotland they don’t say ‘pearls’: they say ‘perils.’ And perils is exactly what the beauty of a pearl is bearing witness to – it owes its very existence to the oyster being in peril. Read More

The Leadersmith – International Women’s Day

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Gosh it’s depressing googling ‘leadership guru.’ At least if you google ‘best leaders’ the odd one is female. But role-model thinkers for women in leadership? Even the ones that do come up are usually fairly niche. So I am going to be rather un-female and announce myself as the UK’s First Female Leadership Guru. By all means, do leave me comments about all the other ones there are out there if you like – I’d love to meet them and talk shop. Meanwhile, here’s the thing. We are trying very hard to get more women into the boardroom, but when we send them off on courses or assign them mentors, too often the books they are given are written by men for men. Well, mine isn’t written exclusively for women, by any manner of means. But it is written by a woman, who gets what you are up against. And it is published this week, by Bloomsbury. So if you are a woman in a hurry who wants some practical help from someone who feels your pain, this is the book for you. I hope it helps.

Robert Burns – Brandmaster

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Tonight I am delivering the Immortal Memory for the University of Edinburgh Business School. I may say something like this:

Robert Burns was born on this day in 1759, making today his 258th birthday. On this day, all over the world, people meet to celebrate the life of this man, a poet. He is on stamps and banknotes; his statue in Leith is wearing socks today; and his portrait stares at the First Minister in Bute House. But what can the average MBA student learn from the life of this man? Well, how not to succeed in business, for one.

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Speech Day, St Anselm’s, Bakewell

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Hello. I am the Chairman of Gordonstoun School. We aren’t as old as you are. You were founded the year my Great Granny was born. We were founded in the 30s by an extraordinary man called Kurt Hahn. He fled Nazi Germany and introduced to Scotland a schooling system designed to emphasise the formation of character. Read More