Sarah Willingham: I will never start another business again

The entrepreneur and investor on top leadership skills, pivotal career moments and Dragons' Den.

by Management Today

On picking up the phone and taking control of your own diary:

My first job was at Planet Hollywood, when it was still cool. I did the project management opening new sites in France, from the first brick in the floor to the first customer through the door. They then offered me a job running franchising across Europe.

It didn’t take me long to realise that Planet Hollywood’s business model wasn’t the most sustainable, with huge capital expenditure meaning it would never get a good return on investment, but I loved the international angle, so I looked around at which UK brands had the legs to expand abroad.

This was 20 years ago, and I thought Pizza Express and Pret a Manger were perfect, so I phoned them both, a super-confident 25 year old, and said I can help you expand abroad. Pret put the phone down; Pizza Express asked me in. 

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