7 March 2012 By Northern Lights
Heather McGregor, headhunter and FT columnist under the name Mrs Moneypenny, carried out postgraduate research at Bradford, one of the UK’s top ten business schools. In her book she advocates that women should get qualifications to stand out. She recommends getting an MBA from a leading business school and a financial qualification as well as learning a language to increase confidence.
She believes it is a myth that women can ‘have it all’ and that successful females will sometimes have to make tough choices and ‘outsource’ family and home support. She also believes it is never too late, whether to become qualified, make a career change or take up new pursuits. McGregor herself achieved her private pilot’s licence in her 40s.
The author includes a whole chapter on saying ‘No’. McGregor says: “Saying no is a life skill and women are notoriously bad at it when it counts. It may seem odd to mention this, but when saying no, do please remember to include the actual word ‘No’. Don’t use some other word that you hope does the job. It usually doesn’t.”
Other advice includes the need for women to network and promote themselves as well as taking on voluntary roles to broaden experience and become a ‘more interesting person’. McGregor says women generally have to work harder at maintaining their networks than men and this is where ‘thought leadership’ becomes important – involvement with industry associations which allows a woman’s thoughts to be heard while building her profile.
She advises ambitious women to control their finances. She says: “On your way to achieving your goals, you may need to take a career break, or retrain, or obtain experience of a particular industry to add to your CV. Some or all of this may require you to earn less money – and sometimes you may have to work for no money at all. People with low financial literacy are more likely to be in debt, and are less likely to participate in the stock market, accumulate and manage wealth effectively and plan for retirement.”
Sarah Dixon, dean of Bradford University School of Management, said: “This is an excellent book. Heather does not focus on barriers or see glass ceilings, but recognises the world as it is and sets out very practical advice. Our students are ambitious – whether undergraduates, Masters or MBAs – and most see themselves becoming a director in their career. Following the advice in this book will add value to their qualifications to help them achieve their ambitions as well as help all women keen to get to the top.”
Careers Advice for Ambitious Women by Mrs Moneypenny with Heather McGregor, is published by Penguin £16.99