Admit it: there are times when you’ve sat around a drab meeting room table, listening to a presentation filled with nonsensical business jargon, and wondered whether this was really for you...
Kerrie Keeling certainly did. The founder of property maintenance company A Woman’s Touch, who’s one of MT’s ‘35 Women Under 35’ for 2008 (in association with Microsoft), worked as a City investment banker before taking the entrepreneurial route. She had her Damascene revelation in 2003 during a meeting in which she found herself talking about ‘singing from the same hymn sheet’ and ‘thinking outside the box’. Deciding she didn’t want to be ‘one of them’, she set up her own business as a painter and decorator with the canny slogan: ‘A Woman’s Touch – The cowboys are quivering in their boots!’ Since her business (which only employs women) now turns over more than a million pounds a year, Keeling has definitely earned her spurs.
Not all of the 11 entrepreneurs on this year’s list come from a corporate background; some struck out on their own early on in their careers, like League of Adventurists International founder Lamorna Trahair. And not all have chosen to operate in a male-dominated area, like Keeling. For instance, entrepreneur Sara Berman works in a field long-associated with women: fashion. Managing director of her eponymous designer label, Berman says she is aware that women face a glass ceiling but reckons that she is fortunate in ‘enjoying a skylight!’
We were also taken by the achievements of Christina Domecq, the 31-year-old scion of the sherry dynasty, whose mobile technology venture SpinVox has just secured over £50m in new funding. A serial entrepreneur, Domecq now employs 350 people worldwide in a business that turns voicemail into text messages as well as providing funky web 2.0 services for mobiles. She’s already picked up a number of business awards along the way (and MT suspects there’ll be more to come).
Like many of the women on this year’s list, Domecq is known for being a risk-taker outside of the office: she is a keen mountaineer, skier, sailor and even flies helicopters. ‘My philosophy is that everyone is at their best when driven,’ she says. There’s certainly no danger of her slacking off, by the sounds of it.
To learn more about these remarkable women, click HERE to see the full list or HERE to see our behind-the-scenes video of this year’s cover shoot. You can also read the full feature either online or as a (gloriously technicoloured) PDF.