Celebrating Women in Business

Those fabulous words were printed on Starbucks coffee cups long before we relied on the internet for inspirational quotes. Created decades ago by former US politician Madeleine Albright and the phrase now so infamous it tends towards motivational gospel.

When it comes to female power, particularly in the workplace, there are few things better than collaborating with a crack team of brilliant women. So, I’d like to intro you to FIVE FAVE FAB FEMALE colleagues. No, that’s not the title of a forthcoming Tarantino movie, but a personal celebration of just a few of the brilliant women I have worked with over the years - and would like to say a huge personal thank you to, today.

Last Friday at 5pm I invited these professional powerhouses to meet each other on Zoom, with a drink in hand, for half an hour. No agenda, just to say hello and share news in a fun, sociable way. Here they are, in proud order of how long we’ve known each other…

Mandy Merron

Mandy is a partner at Moore Kingston Smith, working with media and marketing businesses to help them build and realise value. She specialises in Corporate Finance and advises clients on a range of commercial and technical issues, such as developing business plans, share succession planning and planning to sell businesses as well as fund raising and merger and acquisition advisory. I met Mandy when I was planning to sell my own top 5 UK digital agency, Zinc, to Havas Advertising back in 2002, at the time of dot com dreams. ‘This last year hasn’t seen so many major agency sales’, admitted Mandy, ‘but it sure has been interesting regarding creating new commercial opportunities, consulting on agency plans and deliberating on what the new world will look like.’ I’m hoping when I launch my own casual dining concept one day, ‘fish & sips’ ™ that Mandy will still join the board as her unwavering friendship, financial expertise, efficient energy and calm-as-a-cucumber style are dream qualities to work with. In her spare time Mandy is an equestrian, global runner, is treasurer of the Telephone Preference Service as well as board member of the DMA / Data Marketing Association. Fave tipple: Haydon’s gin and fever tree cucumber tonic…(this week anyway)!

Jessica Parrish

Welcome to Jessica, a Senior Commercial Executive with 20+ years proven track record in creating & delivering international business strategy across the food and property sectors. She’s worked across Europe and the US and specialises in generating continued business growth. I first encountered Jessica in the early 90’s when she was managing food and restaurants for my fave superstore Selfridges, when I was heading the brand for YO! Sushi. I remember I heard her confidence first from afar, efficiently organising her teams and confidently curating the global displays and F&B branded outlets into divine customer centric deliciousness. Then I spotted the fabulously curly hair and so hoped we could become friends. Jessica then went to star at Westfield Group (now Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield) and afterwards became Commercial Director for Time Out Market. She is today consulting for a number of food and beverage clients as well as excitingly launching her own hair brand Shedid & Parrish. Shedid & Parrish is a salon quality 100% natural hair brand, all about seeing, servicing and celebrating curly & textured hair. Curls are at the heart of everything they do, ensuring that with curls comes confidence and with confidence there are no limits! no two people are the same, no two curls are the same, we celebrate the similarities and differences alike we are #unitedbycurls’. Favourite tipple: The Billionaire!

Lucy Barker

I worked alongside Lucy when she was Board Member and Operations Director at Casual Dining Group. Specifically on the 2-year relaunch project for Café Rouge which was a £21m PE funded adventure where we did everything we could to increase sales at that time by 39% to £399m pa revenue. We relaunched 70 restaurants, worked with chefs and procurement to reinvigorate the menus into classic Parisian bistro style fayre, set up the brand standards, got together on creating best of class training manuals and generally really recreating this heritage high street brand back into gorgeousness. Lucy was such a joy to collaborate with, full of energy, fantastic with the financials, effortlessly efficient and a real team player. I miss our fun ‘emotional’ menu tastings, after work competitor restaurant reviews and weekly status meets. Even just saying the word ‘Lucy Barker’ brings a massive smile to my face, for her chic skirt suits, enthusiastic briefings and infectious Joie de vivre…thanks for the magical memories my dear. Lucy is presently Regional Operations for Punch Taverns, and not to be confused with the infamous fictional character that appears in some versions of the story Sweeney Todd. Lucy is also a keen runner, wife and mother of two and enjoys the occasional glass of red wine.

Charli Garner

Charli Garner provides best of class Marketing, Sales and PR for the hospitality industry! She helps clients throughout the UK increase their customer base and brand awareness, from local bars, hotels and restaurants, through to national chains like Pizza Express, Gails Bakeries and Café Rouge.

Her approach is extremely personable, always professional, super committed, fantastically focused and passionate about making each project a successful one. We first met properly at the relaunch of the Café Rouge flagship restaurant at St Pauls, both of us bemused that it was a super busy evening so we’d had to roll our sleeves up and do door duty. I knew then I’d met a kindred spirit! We ushered the press to the bar, made sure the PA’s got a great table, briefed the cocktail teams and made sure everyone had a fantastic evening. Since those days I’ve joyously worked with Charli on several occasions, from setting up Photoshoots in Cardiff and recruiting the right models, through to setting up commercial social media campaigns and creating strategic marketing plans which fit into realistic budgets. Charli is proud mom of a gorgeous three-year old and is currently consulting with a variety of clients including Gails Bakeries.

Linda Turner

We met at the school gates, oblivious to our shared clients, different accents, career choices and complementary professions, introduced by a mutual mummy friend who knew we’d hit it off. I’ve since discovered Linda is an amazing architect, who started off with the famed architectural practise David Collins Studio. Linda and her team today design spaces that people want to eat, drink and create memories in, including one of my favourite places - the iconic Searcys St Pancras Champagne Bar in London King’s Cross St Pancras station. We had fantastic fun working together on the redesign of Café Rouge at Brighton Marina, transforming it from one large tired red room into a stylish black nautical inspired saloon with great outside eating space, superb signage, beautiful bar and decadent discreet dining areas. Linda believes that a well designed project is the best form of sustainability and that outstanding results are created together with clients who share a passion for quality and beauty. Her design process is based on a thorough understanding of client’s needs, their emotional expectations, project objectives, financial constraints and timescales. She is highly experienced in Residential, Hotels, Retail, Bars and Restaurants, Education and Heritage projects and can be found at her practise INature Architecture and Design. Linda also cooks a superb seafood dinner, throws great garden parties and her favourite tipple is a cold glass of Sancerre!

For further information on people power, world class brand strategies, business planning or digital expertise please contact Georgia on georgia@ghbrand.co.uk