Lynda Gratton: 'Ageism is far worse than sexism'

YOU LIVE & YOU LEARN: The professor of management practice at London Business School on being a working mum, Brexit and why she's big in Japan.

by Kate Bassett
Last Updated: 23 Nov 2016

I've always been a hard worker. I did a paper round from the age of eight; I worked on the production line at chocolate maker Terry's of York while I was at school; and I waitressed in a restaurant while I was at uni. If I have my way, I'll be working until I'm 100.

My first job after my PhD was with British Airways. I was intelligent and inquisitive but, when you're at the bottom of a big company, it's hard to understand what the hell's going on. Most of my research since then has been on how large corporations are run.

In 1982 I moved to PA Consulting and became its youngest - and first female - director. I had the big car - a BMW 7 Series - and the big salary. But I couldn't figure out how I could do that job with a family so I left for the world of academia where you're judged on your output, not your hours.

When I'm working on a book, I go through a 'thinking phase' for a year or so where I'm constantly scribbling notes and collecting little shards of information in a basket, and then the 'writing phase' begins. I like to write early in the morning, wearing one of my 'writing robes' - beautiful kaftans made in India.

I'm big in Japan. The Shift outsold Fifty Shades of Grey over there. My latest book, The 100-Year Life, went straight to the top of Amazon's bestsellers list. And I'm just back from presenting at Hitachi's Social Innovation Forum in front of 3,500 people.

Juggling a career and children is exhausting. I always say to working mothers: 'Don't underestimate how hard it is - and don't beat yourself up over it.' When my kids were young and I was teaching at London Business School, I was so exhausted that I'd fall asleep on the floor of my office.

I cried over Brexit; I feel very European. The level of misinformation and the dissing of expertise really pained me. This period will come to be known as the end of truth.

In my early career, I was conscious of sexism. Now I'm in my 60s, I think ageism is far worse. The stereotyping is ridiculous.

My biggest extravagances are opera tickets and travelling. I've always loved roaming around the world. When I was 22, I won a scholarship to research children in kibbutz in Israel; I hitchhiked all the way there.

Image credit: www.lyndagratton.com

Tags:

Find this article useful?

Get more great articles like this in your inbox every lunchtime