Leading Ladies of Surrey business
- Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto
Surrey women mean business! Here we turn the spotlight on some of our county’s most successful ladies and discover just what makes them tick
We asked local businesswomen the following questions:
1. What is it that gets you up in the morning?
2. What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
3. How do you manage to achieve a work/life balance?
4. Who inspires you most, either in work or at home?
5. Do you use social media at home or at work?
- 1 20 of the best places to eat out in St Ives
- 2 8 of the best places for a bluebell walk in Surrey
- 3 17 of the best spots for al fresco dining in Essex
- 4 12 outdoor dining experiences in Surrey
- 5 Win a short break in London at The Dilly on Piccadilly
- 6 35 great Surrey pubs with beer gardens and terraces
- 7 19 great places to eat outdoors in Cheshire after lockdown
- 8 7 magical bluebell walks in Devon
- 9 Bluebell walks in Suffolk: Beautiful spring woodlands to explore
- 10 Bluebell woods in Derbyshire: Top 5 places to go for woodland walks
Owner, Lillian Spibey Photography, Gomshall
Contact: 07969 466572 / lilliansphoto.com
1. My lovely children get me up every morning…
2. “Be daring, be different, be impractical, be anything that will assert integrity of purpose and imaginative vision against the play-it-safers, the creatures of the commonplace, the slaves of the ordinary.” – Cecil Beaton
3. As I own my own business, I have the flexibility to change my working hours to suit my two young children. I work most weekends on shoots, and edit many evenings as a result, but it’s lovely to be able to spend time with my kids.
4. When I was 14, my photography teacher introduced me to Margaret Bourke-White’s work, and her images have inspired me since then. Since becoming a photography teacher myself, I find my students’ passion to learn photography inspirational, which drives me to be a better teacher.
5. I am American, studied photojournalism at university in New York and the majority of my friends are photographers in New York City. Social media is a great way to connect both professionally and personally.
Hospital Director, Spire Gatwick Park Hospital, Horley
Contact: 01293 778904 / spiregatwick.com
1. A huge list of things to do! Juggling work commitments with three teenage children’s agendas means an early start. Every day at work is different and it is the variety and unpredictability I thrive on.
2. Nobody can achieve everything on their own. Surround yourself with the best possible team.
3. I am not sure I always do, but I think organisation and prior planning is essential. I really do enjoy my work so it tends to balance itself. The iPhone helps though!!
4. Those that deal with adversity yet remain cheerful and optimistic.
5. Yes – all the main ones such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube
Store manager and design consultant, BoConcept, Guildford
Contact: 01483 565027 / boconcept.co.uk
1. The challenge of a new day. My challenge is to make this day a better one than yesterday and to accomplish my goals of today. You design your own future every day. You decide!
2. He conquers who endures.
3. By prioritising and keeping a cool and collected mindset so that I do not lose focus and motivation in my goals. Approaching everything with a fresh and positive outlook, allowing myself to be creative in my everyday life. Taking five (minutes) to breathe and think of something else; the answer will come to me.
4. My family. They are my inspiration, support and drive.
5. Yes. It is part of the world’s natural progress. As a human being, we cannot stay static. We need to move, grow, adapt and develop in order to achieve our best and optimal state in both private and work life. Social media is one more step towards this evolution that will never stop and that forces us to change and become better.
Family lawyer and partner, Bowles & Co, Solicitors, Epsom
Contact: 01372 725241 / bowles-solicitors.co.uk
1. Necessity! It sounds like a cliché, but it’s true; there are never enough hours in the day.
2. Fail to prepare, prepare to fail! My job requires thorough preparation and organisation. I’m frequently involved in life changing issues. It’s immensely rewarding to guide clients through seemingly daunting legal processes and see them looking forward with confidence and certainty.
3. My husband and kids are a great support. Running my own business means in theory I can nip out to see the children, but not often!
4. My parents taught me so much about life and business and were immensely proud when I became a partner at Bowles & Co. They instilled in me that anything is possible.
5. I try to understand all the Facebook pages, Twitter feeds and blogs that my children are involved with. On a professional level, it’s something we are working on with consultants currently.
Co-owner, Cuckoo Junction, Gomshall
Contact: 01483 202433
1. We buy stock that we love, so every day it is a pleasure to go to work. Our shop is full of unusual and different things.
2. Be yourself.
3. My house looks like an extension of the shop. We buy gifts, homeware and furniture that we want in our own homes. Fortunately, my partner and family are very supportive and share my enthusiasm and taste.
4. My daughter Harriet survived a life-threatening illness at 11. She is now 24 and has never looked at life in a remotely negative way. I look at her and use her recovery as an inspiration to succeed. Both my daughters are my best friends and have encouraged me every step of the way within this new business venture.
5. Yes, I have a Twitter account but I am fairly new to it so I haven’t used it to its full potential; I’m working on it!
Head of girls’ games, Danes Hill School, Oxshott
Contact: 01372 842509 / daneshillschool.co.uk
1. Without a doubt, my pupils. I have the privilege of working with such incredible children. National hockey champions, national netball champions, national skiing champions, national indoor rowing champions, there is just no end to their talents. They blow me away, every day!
2. When you’re going through bad times, just keep going!
3. During term time, school is my life! However, I always make time for exercise. I enjoy running and rowing. The school holidays are a chance to catch up with family and recharge my batteries.
4. My parents. They have taught me the importance of a strong work ethic and have always encouraged me to be true to myself. From a very early age, they impressed upon me the value of education. My passion for teaching definitely stems from this.
5. This year, we established a staff netball team, kindly sponsored by the headmaster. We play in a league at the Surrey Sports Park and I follow league announcements on Twitter.
Founder and managing director, Diamond Logistics, Guildford
Contact: 01483 536888 / diamondlogistics.co.uk
1. The shipping forecast! I get into the office and manage a couple of hours before the rest of the crew get here, which is one of the reasons we can get so much done.
2. ‘Good luck accompanies those who work hardest’ and ‘Don’t be constrained by the boundaries of convention’. Looking outside the box and finding different, innovative ways of working is key in dynamic businesses.
3. What’s a work/life balance?!
4. My children. Their perspectives keep my head full of fresh ideas. And my parents to whom I rely on for sage advice. Business-wise, I’m old school – Sir John Harvey Jones, Mrs T, Winston Churchill, plus Jim Rohn and Zig Ziglar. Current business icons – Richard Branson and Nigel Botterill.
5. You can waste a lot of time on social media. It’s important as one of the pillars of marketing but if I am not specifically spending my time getting or keeping clients or making more profit, it’s time wasted – so I really restrict my time on it.
Tourism marketing & development manager, Guildford Tourist Information Centre
Contact: 01483 444396 / visitguildford.com
1. The alarm is set for 6.30am but my cat usually does the job first.
2. Don’t put off till tomorrow what you can do today!
3. As part of my job is to promote all our wonderful local attractions and restaurants, I can blur the work/life balance line beautifully by checking out all these superb places in my spare time – you will frequently find me at the Yvonne Arnaud Theatre or having a delicious cocktail at MKB Radisson Blu Edwardian.
4. Anyone who is prepared to go that extra mile for others – especially in the face of adversity.
5. I live my life by social media both at home and at work. The Guildford Tourist Information Centre Facebook and Twitter pages have helped us to make contact with many people who would not come to the shop. It’s exciting to have dialogue with customers who you could not reach any other way. On a personal note, it’s a great way to keep in touch with old friends.
Associate solicitor, Downs Solicitors LLP, Dorking
Contact: 01306 880110 / downslaw.co.uk
1. The fact that my work as a family lawyer is varied and interesting and no two days are ever the same so, school run aside, I am excited by the prospect of what the day ahead will bring.
2. Don’t worry about things that may never happen.
3. After many years working full-time, I have recently made a decision to work four days a week, which seems to have created an ideal work/life balance. On my ‘day off’, I can now do all the usual household jobs leaving the weekends free to devote to spending time with my family.
4. I have been inspired in my career by Lord Denning – a fabulous Judge of our time who died in 1999 aged 100. As a law student, his judgments demystified the law for me as he was very down to earth and real – a quality I endeavour to bring to my own work.
5. I use LinkedIn for professional connections and groups and I am also a bit of a ‘Tweeter’ (@solicitorjulie), although it is sometimes difficult to find the time during a busy working day.
Headmistress, Greenacre School for Girls, Banstead
Contact: 01737 352114 / greenacre.surrey.sch.uk
1. A loud alarm clock, a long, hot shower, a strong cup of tea and the expectation of another varied and interesting day. No two are ever the same and I have the privilege of so many different roles in my work.
2. From my father: ‘You can’t blame other people for the impression you create.’
3. I have most fortunately inherited from my father the ability to completely switch off and I never have trouble relaxing and sleeping. I adore gardening and cooking and both are a very practical balance to the challenges of my working life. I also have a very close family including two grown-up daughters whose company I greatly enjoy. The odd glass of white wine helps!
4. The young women in my life, both professional and personal, inspire me. The world has changed a lot for women during my lifetime and it continues to evolve – there are so many opportunities and so many hard-working and creative young women grasping them.
5. Twitter at school – a big adventure for me!
Director of aesthetics, Absolute Aesthetics, Guildford
Contact: 01483 477189 / absoluteaesthetics.co.uk
1. I don’t seem to have an issue getting out of bed in the morning; there is always so much to do and I tend to feel guilty for lying in and not maximising my day.
2. Always treat people with respect as you progress in business as you may meet them on the way down. At the early stages of developing Absolute Aesthetics, I was given this advice and always taught not to make enemies in business as your paths may cross in the future. It was the best piece of advice I received and I have always followed it.
3. I am getting better at achieving a work/life balance. When I set up the company over five years ago, I certainly didn’t have that balance but now I have the best team around me so it’s easier for me to take time off without worrying about what is going on.
4. Being taken seriously in business can be challenging at times if you are a woman and it can be even harder to prove your worth. I find Karren Brady (The Apprentice) particularly inspiring.
5. At work, we use social media a lot (Facebook, LinkedIn, Blogs and Twitter) as it is a great way to explain about our treatments and provide updates on what is going on at the clinic. It really is a useful way to share information, but on a personal level, I tend to avoid it as much as possible.
Head of scholars and head of drama, Lingfield Notre Dame School, Lingfield
Contact: 01342 832407 / lingfieldnotredame.co.uk
1. Radio 4 and catching up with the news is what gets me up if going to school; in holidays and at weekends, it’s the gym.
2. I was given The Prophet by Kahil Gibran as a 21st birthday present and I find it full of wisdom and excellent advice. His reflection on children is particularly resonant –‘They belong to the future’.
3. Having balanced the needs of a family for a long time, now that they are independent, I find I am too. I tend to do what has to be done and not watch the clock. I don’t think that’s always a good thing though, as I spend more time in school than I have ever done!
4. I am not sure that there is any one person who inspires me. I am inspired by people who are clever and creative or, ideally, both! (That’s what makes my work and my family so rewarding!). I am inspired by people who have resilience, courage, determination and passion. I defy anyone not to be inspired by people like that.
5. I’m definitely a face-to-face sort of person, although I use social networks for keeping in touch with family and friends further afield.
Psychologist/counsellor, MandyJane-LifeDesign, Woking
Contact: 01483 824665 / mandyjane-lifedesign.com
1. A sense of purpose. It’s a great feeling knowing that you are helping others to improve the quality of their lives.
2. The way you perceive the world determines the quality of your life. Choose thoughts that work for you.
3. I have strict boundaries between the two. No work calls after a certain time (unless it’s an emergency) and the work laptop put away. I find it easy to switch off.
4. The Dalai Lama inspires me in all areas of my life. It’s important to me to stay grounded and always remember what’s important (friends and family). Kindness and tolerance are much more important than status and power.
5. Yes – it makes a huge difference in my line of work. I use Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, Stumbleupon, Instagram and write a daily blog.
Owner, Maison, Dorking
Contact: 01306 640118 / maisonhomeinteriors.com
1. A cup of Tetley’s tea – I know I should be healthy and drink lemon and water but you just can’t beat it.
2. Don’t sweat the small stuff.
3. Ah, if I had the answer to that I’d be a millionaire. It’s always hard when running a business, home, family and personal life. There is no magic answer and we can but try.
4. At work, it’s my wonderful team and business partner Hilary. Working well together makes work much better.
5. Yes, we use Facebook for my home interiors business and for my personal life. Once you get the hang of it, it can add a really personal touch and the easy access to great photos and instant information is great.
Juliet Marsh and Judy Wiesenfeld
Owners, Marsh & Wiesenfeld Interior Design Partnership, Weybridge
Contact: 01932 842181 / marshwiesenfeld.co.uk
1. Juliet: The excitement of new challenges that allow me to use my creativity to find unique design solutions for my clients.
2. Judy: I was told to think positively even in difficult situations. Equally, to remember that what at first seems to be an obstacle, with time, may turn into an advantage.
3. Judy: I work hard during the week but enjoy my weekends with family and friends. I find time for my hobbies such as gourmet cooking, theatre, travel and visiting contemporary art museums.
4. Juliet: As an architect, my father taught me to appreciate design and quality. He also believed that the best way to live was to treat other people as you would like them to treat you.
5. Judy: No, I like the personal touch, so talking to people face-to-face or over the phone.
Owner, Paloma New Business Limited, Guildford
Contact: 01483 454542 / palomanewbusiness.com
1. My two-and-a-half-year-old. Most mornings with the cry of “open the gate, mummy, daddy!” but the other morning with “I need a cup of tea, mummy!”
2. People buy people. If you’re not prepared to build relationships in business, whatever field you’re in, your chances of success are slim.
3. Setting up my own business has allowed me to address this, not least of all by eliminating the daily commute into London. We also make the most of what Surrey offers to parents with a young family, with regular weekend trips to the likes of Bocketts Farm, Newlands Corner and Hatchlands.
4. One of my first jobs was with Virgin and I was lucky enough to meet Richard Branson on a number of occasions. His drive and vision are truly inspirational; he is someone who is a consummate builder of relationships.
5. I work across most social platforms with our clients. As a parent blogger (podcastdove.com), I keep the conversation going through Twitter and Facebook.
Partner, Morrisons Solicitors, Redhill
Contact: 01737 854522 / morrlaw.com
1. My husband, with a cup of tea!
2. My father advised me to work hard and achieve a professional qualification; I have worked as a solicitor in London and Surrey and have combined working with family life.
3. I have great support from my husband and my three sons – who all now have careers of their own. I love to spend time at home in our garden and entertaining family and friends; I enjoy the theatre, ballet and opera. I sing in a choir, attend Pilates classes and I am a governor at Reigate Grammar School.
4. The solicitor with whom I trained in London was an excellent role model at a time when there were far fewer women solicitors. Also my late mother – she would liked to have trained as a solicitor and also worked as a volunteer with Citizens Advice for 20 years.
5. At work, we are active on LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook and my sons use Facebook and think I should too – maybe one day!
Owner, Sesame Internet Marketing, Cobham
Contact: 01932 701302 / sesameinternetmarketing.co.uk
1. Sounds corny, but I just love working for my clients! So helping them achieve great websites, getting new leads and growing their businesses gets me up in the morning.
2. ‘Do what you love and love what you do’. Running your own business means you can be in charge of what you do and who you work with – it’s liberating advice!
3. We have no kids so it’s easy to end up working long hours – so the work/life balance needs a bit of work on itself!
4. The person I most admire? My father – he had a muscular condition, which I have also inherited. He never complained and simply got on with it, living a full life and working till retirement. Whenever I get down, I remember him and it spurs me on.
5. Being in my business, it would be odd if I didn’t use social media – but it really is a great way of keeping up with friends and engaging with potential customers.
Owner, The Art Works, East Horsley
Contact: 01483 280184 / works-of-art.co.uk
1. Hopefully the sun peeping through the blinds; it definitely won’t be my teenage son with a cup of tea! As my brain engages (I’m not really a morning person), the wonder of what the day ahead beholds crosses my mind; with a new business, everyday is different.
2. Choose a career that you can be passionate about, but don’t think you can turn a hobby into a viable business. I am passionate about art and design that is both well thought out and well executed, creative and original; none of which I personally feel is represented enough on our High Street.
3. Knowing I am needed (and love being) in both locations.
4. My parents; both had their own businesses and have worked hard, but they still had the time to show me and my sister the values of life as they saw them – respect, loyalty, honesty and love. I am generally inspired by people with a get-up-and-make-it-happen attitude, whilst working within the parameters instilled in me by my parents.
5. With a new business, it’s a must, but at home I avoid like the plague! I guess I have slightly Luddite tendencies towards social media.
Housemistress and teacher of mathematics, St John’s School, Leatherhead
Contact: 01372 385461 / stjohns.surrey.sch.uk
1. I love the variety that exists in teaching. The pleasure that is gained from teaching pupils who find mathematics a struggle but who are prepared to persevere until the lock is opened. Working in a boarding house allows pupils and teachers to see and know each other in a different environment.
2. From my PE teacher, the quotation given by Oscar Wilde: “Be yourself as everyone else is already taken.”
3. By having a very supportive husband who allows me to indulge in my passion of triathlon. Earlier this year, I represented Great Britain in the World Triathlon Championships in New Zealand.
4. When I became a head of department at King Edward’s, my predecessor was a lady full of enthusiasm who was prepared to give so much of her time to every child and always with a smile willingly passing on all of her pearls of wisdom. Sandra Collar served as my inspiration to delve into the life of a boarding housemistress.
5. No – I value face-to-face contact.
Owner, The Beauty Rooms, Camberley
Contact: 01276 28336 / beautysaloncamberley.co.uk
1. Usually my son asking if he can play Minecraft. He gets up very early to have his breakfast, brush his teeth and get his bag ready, so he then has time to play it before school.
2. Don’t be afraid to fail! Of course, no one sets out to fail, but the fear of failure shouldn’t stop you from trying.
3. I don’t think there’s such a thing as a true work/life balance. I tend to bounce from one extreme to the other.
4. Determination inspires me at work and at home. Never say never!
5. Both. I started using social media because of the business, but find it easier to be inspired for business communications if I use it for my personal life too.
Founder, The Bristle Brush Company, Weybridge.
Contact: 01932 706881 / thebristlebrushcompany.com
1. Excitement! I wake up anticipating what the day holds for the business – and getting all the mum stuff done before I leave to take my sons to school, of course.
2. Don’t be late – it’s disrespectful.
3. By getting up really early and going to bed late! Having a great husband, kids and sister helps too. Juggling is a team effort!
4. My parents – they taught me to work hard and never let anyone down. I’ll never forget my Dad packing me off to my first week’s hairdressing apprenticeship at Harrods after the great storm of 1988 with a chainsaw in the car to saw down any trees in my way so that I made it in and didn’t let anyone down! I have great respect for both of them.
5. Yes – both. Twitter to promote my business and network with industry influencers and Facebook to keep up with my lovely friends when I’m really busy!
Owner, Tillings Café, Gomshall
Contact: 01483 202214 / tillingscafe.co.uk
1. The need to get to the café, turn the oven on and have fresh scones on the counter for when we open.
2. Life is not a dress rehearsal.
3. I’m still working on that one. The café was so busy from day one, I feel the last two years have been a blur. Fortunately, my husband and teenage children pitch in and help at Tillings whenever they can – we all enjoy working together. I also now book a holiday instead of taking a last minute break – the thought of losing a deposit works wonders to make me take time off.
4. In the culinary world, it has to be Nigel Slater. His autobiography Toast (later dramatised for TV) revealed so many parallels between his early family life and my own that I read most of it with a lump in my throat. It’s clear why his need to produce good, honest comforting food developed and I modestly share that passion and need with him.
5. I am ashamed to say no at home, and that’s unlikely to change. However, the value of social media in business is undeniable and finally we have had time to develop our website past the holding page stage – Tillings can now Tweet!
Partner, Woolford & Co Chartered Accountants, Esher
Contact: 01372 471117 / woolford.co.uk
1. My iPhone (life-support system!), cappuccino and two girls to get to school.
2. ‘Work hard and play hard’. I definitely do both!
3. Hmmm! The key is an invaluable support network. Being available to help my clients manage their businesses is so important and this can often mean out-of-hours meetings. Flexible childcare, a long suffering husband and an excellent network of friends make this possible. My passion and escape is horse riding (especially with my daughter); managing a lively Spanish horse leaves no time to think of anything else!
4. A highly regarded work colleague, mentor and friend. Also my ever-cheerful mum!
5. I use LinkedIn and am considering Twitter for Woolford & Co. As a professional advisor, I really need to know my clients to be most effective, so nothing beats meeting them face-to-face or having a good old-fashioned phone call! I dip into Facebook to see what my friends are up to.
Joint chief executive, Ambassador Theatre Group, New Victoria Theatre, Woking
Tel: 0844 871 7645 / atgtickets.com
1. Live theatre is my passion and inspiration - even after 30 years in the business. The theatre world is surprising, challenging, intellectually stimulating all in one day – I’m addicted to it!
2. My father always advised me to be persistent and stick at things –particularly when life gets difficult. This staying power has been incredibly useful. I don’t like settling for anything less than the best.
3. I’m married to my co-chief executive Howard Panter so we can often be found taking business decisions over breakfast – a cottage in Cornwall is our special place for family time and relaxation.
4. Christina Smith (retailer and property entrepreneur) has been a great support for many years. Her drive and flair made me think – if she can do it, then maybe I can too.
5. Social media is so important to our business – it’s a quick way of finding out what audiences are thinking and spreading the word. Outside of work, I prefer a face-to-face conversation!
Dentist, Christine Osborne Dental Practise, West Byfleet
Contact: 01932 345562 / christineosbornedentist.com
1. First the Radio 4 Today show and then the knowledge that I have a packed day of patients who need to see me.
2. Invest in yourself and your own education. I spent much of the first 20 years of my practising life undertaking further qualifications and training. It has given me confidence in my work and opened many doors which I otherwise would not even have ventured to peer around.
3. Having just relocated to our wonderful new premises, I am still playing catch-up with the business, often done after work and at weekends.
4. Those friends who have weathered some awful health and family crises and continued to work, care for others and remained positive.
5. We have just set up a website. I enjoy writing my quarterly practice newsletter (copies on the website) and my webmaster thinks I should put my thoughts into something more public like a blog.
If you would like to appear in the next edition of Leading Ladies, contact advertisement manager Gareth Snow on 01903 703745 or firstname.lastname@example.org. In the meantime, discuss this month’s leading ladies with us at facebook.com/surreylife and twitter.com/surreylife