Business People: Karren Brady

One of our trainers, Heather is going to be writing a series about people in business that she most admire and potentially some that she doesn't!

First of all I’m going to start with a British woman, Karren Brady.  I’ve chosen her for two reasons; firstly, she champions women in business and always has and secondly, because she has made a highly-successful career in football which is still very much dominated by men.

She was born in London 41 years ago and like many highly-successful business people, she is self-made.  She left school at 18 and went into advertising. She met David Sullivan whilst working for a London radio station; he was her client and she persuaded him to invest heavily in radio advertising.  Obviously impressed, he went on to offer her a job with his company and at the age of 20 she was made a director.  He himself became a millionaire by the age of 25, so perhaps he recognised the same ambition in her.

Negotiating is an admirable skill and clearly Brady is very good at it as she convinced Sullivan to buy an ailing Birmingham City Football Club, which was in receivership AND persuaded him to let her manage it. This proved a wise move as the publicity surrounding having a 23-year-old female Director in ‘the beautiful game’ saved them.  Her career went from strength to strength and she is now on the board of a number of high-profile companies.  She remained at Birmingham City F.C. until 2009, leaving after being cleared of tax evasion. She was heavily involved with the England bid for the 2018 world cup and is currently vice-chairman of West Ham United.  She writes a newspaper column and still found time to marry (an ex-footballer) and have two children.  She is probably best known at the moment for her role in the ever popular reality TV series The Apprentice, which is currently showing on BBC 1 on Wednesday nights at 9pm.  Her job on the show is to advise Lord Sugar on whom to say the famous words ‘you’re fired’ to. Click here read one of our blogs about the programme.

She has won many awards which include Business Woman of the Year and last year was listed in The Sunday Telegraph’s ‘100 Most Powerful Women in Britain’ in the business section. 

So why do I admire her?  She is professional, straight-talking and has sound business judgment.  She also understands what it takes for a woman to succeed in a man’s world and so when she left Birmingham 75% of her senior management team were women.  I hope that she is successful with West Ham that she can get them back into the Premiership where they belong. Which business people do you most admire, let us know.

By Heather


To champion – (v) to support or defend 
Self-made – (adj) rich and successful due to your own work
To invest heavily – (col) to invest a lot of money in something
Ailing – (adj) unwell, sickly
In receivership – (exp) to be in the hands of the receiver, legal dissolving of a company
The beautiful game – football
Strength to strength – (exp) getting stronger and stronger
High-profile – (adj) conspicuous, noticeable or in the public eye
Straight-talking - (adj) saying exactly what you think
Sound – (adj) very good, strong
Tax evasion – trying not to pay tax

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