Which woman in business has inspired you and your career? 

October 1, 2018

Donna Bulmer (pictured)
Managing partner, Haines Watts North East 

There are inspirational women throughout history who have risen to the top of their respective fields, stretching back to Marie Curie or Nancy Astor. Often though, the most inspirational figures are those with similar backgrounds or goals, not just someone that happens to be the same gender.

Inspiration is vitally important at every stage of your career, creating goals to strive towards. Equally, it’s important for those of us with the power to influence decisions in businesses to create clear opportunities – allowing those who are inspired, and determined, to succeed.

Rob Mathieson 
Managing director, IOD

Gwynne Shotwell from SpaceX is an amazing example of a successful woman in business and is as formidable as she is inspirational to me as she built the business from a start-up to a multi-billion dollar company in such a short period of time.

With degrees in Applied Mathematics and Mechanical Engineering, she joined SpaceX in 2002 and was their 11th  employee. As the President and COO, she worked with Elon Musk to build the multi-billion dollar company that has radically transformed the space industry, spending her days negotiating with, and delivering to, both government and commercial organisations.

Jen Bernard 
Founder and managing director, Bernard Interiors 

Interior designer and hotelier Kit Kemp inspires me, both as a designer and as an entrepreneur. She is co-owner and designer of the multi award-winning Firmdale Hotels and has built a very successful design practice which has diversified into textiles, fragrance, homewares and furniture.  Kit has  drive, determination, imagination and vision – qualities needed both in business and to stand your ground as a designer. Her designs are instantly recognisable and have created beautiful and comfortable spaces people want to spend time in.

Andy Preston  
Entrepreneur and founder and chair of CEO Sleepout 

My sister, Claire Preston, is a genuinely remarkable business person.  More than anyone I’ve ever met, Claire has the ability and energy to do a million different things and do them all well. I’ve watched Claire run successful restaurants, create amazing charity events and most recently travel the world, winning business for the North East as the CEO of Middlesbrough-based Sound Training.  But what’s most interesting is that I know she’s actually capable of growing further and running even bigger and stronger businesses.  My sister is confident, intelligent and hyper active; she’s also compassionate and frequently lets others take the credit. Claire is always reluctant to push herself into the limelight.  I don’t think she will be very comfortable with me nominating her for this but she deserves to be recognised as an inspirational person.