Talk Talk CEO and supermarket veteran Dido Harding (see MT’s interview with Dido here) was the keynote speaker, giving insights into her ascent up the career ladder. She spoke about stamping her mark on a male-dominated industry, and dividing her time between work and her family. ‘My weakness is that I over-commit,’ she said. ‘But I’m probably a more understanding boss now I have two children.’
Having worked for two of the leading UK supermarkets, differences between them were also highlighted. Harding preferred working for Sainsbury’s, she said, but admitted that Tesco makes better use of technology, getting a leg-up over Sainsbury’s by using heat sensors to monitor queues at the tills.
Harding made the 35 Women Under 35 list in 2003, the same year as dot-com star Martha Lane Fox and fashion designer Stella McCartney. Back then, she was commercial director for added-value foods at Tesco. Five years later, she jumped baskets to join rival Sainsbury's as convenience store director, before switching to Talk Talk when the broadband arm of Carphone Warehouse was separated in late 2009.
Guests at the launch party at the Swarovski Lounge in central London included 35 Women Under 35 alumni and other businesswomen keen to share tips and network. Miliner Hayley Marsden, who made this year’s 35 under 35 list, came from Liverpool that day, leaving only to get her 9pm return train back to Liverpool. ‘I always find these events so inspiring,’ she said.
MT’s next event, Inspiring Women, will be on the 3rd of November and Cilla Snowball, Dotti Ivring and Peninah Thomson will be the guest speakers. For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org
See pictures of last night’s event on our Facebook page.