Kathryn Parsons: 'Stop penalising women for having children'

INSPIRING WOMEN: The Decoded co-founder on scrapping the male culture of business, launching in Hawaii and why she loves Spanx.

by Kate Bassett
Last Updated: 12 May 2015

1. Which businesswoman do you most admire and why?

Sara Blakely, founder of Spanx. She turned $5,000 into $1bn while retaining 100% ownership of her business.

2. Do you have a mentor? If so, who and why?

The people who have inspired and mentored me range from my co-founders, my mother, a 14-year-old coder, everyone who works on the Decoded team, our alumni to all the female businesswomen I have met through The Veuve Clicquot Business Woman of the Year Award. Mentorship comes in all shapes and sizes and is a two-way street.

3. What's been your biggest business setback?

I am learning every day. How do you set up a business? Launch it in the US? Build an amazing team? Ultimately I have learnt to stay true to your vision, values and culture and cherish it.

4. What are your top tips for negotiating a pay rise?

Share examples of the projects you have directly influenced and worked on. How have these grown the vision, value and overall success of the business?

5. How do you juggle the work/life balance? Any advice?

What is your life's work? You only live once. Do something you are passionate about.

6. What's your take on boardroom quotas?

We need a mindset shift which views women as leaders; which does not penalise women for having children; which scraps the male culture of business which has evolved in the past 50-100 years; and which values diversity of all forms at the top of businesses. Does your board reflect the diversity of your consumers? It should.

7. What nuggets of advice would you give to young women starting out on their careers?

Dream big. Anything is possible.

8. As a high-flying businesswoman, have you ever faced discrimination in your industry? 

I've worked across and have exposure to a huge range of different industries. I truly feel technology is a great place to be a woman right now. The speed of growth can allow you to define your own culture of business and it's a place where huge value is put on the quality of your mind and skills.

9. What do you look for when hiring a new person?

Passion for technology and a deep understanding of what the words Digital Enlightenment mean.

10. Where do you see yourself in five years?

Launching our next office... in Hawaii.

Meet Kathryn Parsons at our Inspiring Women event on 20th November. Fellow speakers include Thomas Cook boss Harriet Green, Links of London founder Annoushka Ducas and M&S style director Belinda Earl. Check out the progamme and book tickets here. We're running a 15% discount until the end of the month.

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