Leeds University Business School is celebrating International Women’s Day 2012 with alumna and entrepreneur Deirdre Bounds, along with some of Britain’s most successful businesswomen.
The proportion of directors in FTSE 100 companies that are women has reached 15 percent, a figure that has increased due to recent government initiatives and support. However, at the foundation of economic prosperity is entrepreneurial drive and ambition, and with unemployment at its highest point for almost two decades a “do it yourself” approach seems to be increasingly appealing.
Our four businesswomen share their stories, challenges and advice for budding entrepreneurs.
Deirdre Bounds turned her own love of travelling into an entrepreneurial venture. In 1994, after identifying a gap in availability of TEFL training, Deirdre started i-to-i.com. In just ten years, the website sold to a FTSE 100 company in 2007 for a sizeable sum. She earned the reputation of being one of the North's top 100 entrepreneurs. In 2009, Deirdre set up her second online business, Parties around the World, which offers educational packs for children's birthday parties to parents.
Annabel Karmel MBE
With over 20 bestselling cookbooks as well as regular television and radio interviews, Annabel has proven herself as a successful businesswoman and authority on children's nutritional issues. In 2006, Annabel was awarded an MBE for her contribution and work in this field. In 2010, Annabel worked closely with Disney and created a healthy range of snacks that can be found at major UK supermarkets.
Dawn Gibbins MBE
With more than 30 years of business experience, Dawn Gibbins built a company that has blossomed into a worldwide leader in the manufacturing of resin flooring for commercial and industrial industries. Dawn was awarded an MBE in 1994 for her efforts and was named a 'Pioneer to the Life of Our Nation' by Her Majesty the Queen in 2004.
Michelle Mone OBE
Born in Glasgow, Michelle left home at 15 to seek employment in order to support her family. After taking a job with Labatt Brewers, Michelle quickly climbed the ladder and was running the marketing and sales team by the age of 20. In 1996, Michelle launched MJM International to pursue her career in business with a goal to create a bra that was both comfortable and innovative. Michelle launched Ultimo, one of the UK's leading designer lingerie brands, shortly after. Ultimo bras are now sold nationwide in department stores such as Selfridges and Debenhams, as well as in the US. In January 2010, Michelle was awarded an OBE for her contribution to business.