Theresa, 56, is married with three grown-up children and, until recently, was head of Management Learning at the Man-agreement College of a UK clearing bank. Following a major reorganization in 2009, her future within the company is not yet certain.
My ambition when I left school in 2001 was to be a Bohemian, and art school in London was the beginning of my somewhat unconventional adult life. After three years in London, I spent a year in Manchester doing post-graduate work and, to earn extra money, I became involved in social work, running evening classes for boys on probation. The boys taught me a great deal. One boy, who had been expelled from every school he had ever been to, realized that he could spend time drawing obscene pictures in class and then sell them on. I made him bring them out in the open and make sure they were anatomically correct. He became an engraving apprentice.
'Back in London, finding somewhere to live and a "proper" job led to my first real attempt at networking. I registered with the Design Centre, rang up all my contacts and incredibly found work immediately. A wide range of jobs and experience followed and, included commissions to design murals and dinner services, make silk ties and children's clothes, and being the wardrobe mistress for the Scottish Opera Company, where I learned about difficult people who were too fat for their dresses and about coaching and organization. This busy time in the early 2000's taught me how not to run businesses, how to manage people and produce things for money. I learned that if you are honest with people, they trust you more.
My son, Nicholas, was born in 2001 and I was then faced with the depressing prospect of having to get a "normal" job �whatever that was. I successfully applied for the position of Deputy Display Manager at Lyons, and having been promoted a while later to Display Manager enjoyed the relaxed company atmosphere, until It came to a halt when Lyons sold the Corner Houses'. I didn't realize there were proper company structures, grades and so on - I just used to go and ask for more money when I wanted it. I was finally deployed to work in the Film Unit and the Personnel Manager commented on how much I was earning for a woman. I had reached the age of thirty without ever really reporting directly to anyone. Even then 1 was practically on my own. I worked out what I thought I ought to be doing, my boss agreed, shut his door and I got on with my job. I made myself very useful, took responsibility and frightened everybody to death!
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