Careers advice for ambitious women

By | March 7, 2012

Heather-McGregor-for-webHeather McGregor, headhunter, FT columnist under the name Mrs Moneypenny and Bradford University School of Management alumnus, has published a book called Careers Advice for Ambitious Women. Here are her top tips to help more women become boardroom directors.

Get qualifications to stand out

Mrs Moneypenny recommends getting an MBA from a leading business school and a financial qualification as well as learning a language to increase your confidence.

Don’t try and ‘have it all’

She believes it is a myth that women can ‘have it all’ and that successful females will sometimes have to make tough choices and ‘outsource’ family and home support.  She also believes it is never too late, whether to become qualified, make a career change or take up new pursuits.  McGregor herself achieved her private pilot’s licence in her 40s.

Learn how to say ‘No’

There is a whole chapter in the book on saying ‘No’.  McGregor says:  “Saying no is a life skill and women are notoriously bad at it when it counts. It may seem odd to mention this, but when saying no, do please remember to include the actual word ‘No’. Don’t use some other word that you hope does the job. It usually doesn’t.”

Network in the right circles

Other advice includes the need for women to network and promote themselves as well as taking on voluntary roles to broaden experience and become a ‘more interesting person’.  McGregor says women generally have to work harder at maintaining their networks than men and this is where ‘thought leadership’ becomes important – involvement with industry associations which allows a woman’s thoughts to be heard while building her profile.

Learn how to control your finances

In the book, McGregor says:  “On your way to achieving your goals, you may need to take a career break, or retrain, or obtain experience of a particular industry to add to your CV. Some or all of this may require you to earn less money – and sometimes you may have to work for no money at all. People with low financial literacy are more likely to be in debt, and are less likely to participate in the stock market, accumulate and manage wealth effectively and plan for retirement.”

Sarah Dixon, dean of Bradford University School of Management, said about the book:  “Heather does not focus on barriers or see glass ceilings, but recognises the world as it is and sets out very practical advice. Our students are ambitious – whether undergraduates, Masters or MBAs – and most see themselves becoming a director in their career.  Following the advice in this book will add value to your qualifications to help you achieve your ambitions.”

Careers Advice for Ambitious Women by Mrs Moneypenny with Heather McGregor, is published by Penguin £16.99

Heather is also the author of Mrs Moneypenny: Survival in the City (2003), and Mrs Moneypenny: Email from Tokyo, (2006). Her column appears every week in the FT Weekend Magazine.

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