How does the managing director of Capita Networking Solutions spend her time?
How do you typically start a working day?
When I am not travelling outside London, I wake up around 7am and have breakfast with my husband and daughter. I drive her to school, which is great as we tend to listen to Kiss FM and sing along. Sometimes I ask her opinion about work-related things. She is 13 and some of her advice is really funny! I then head off to our offices in Victoria Street. If I have to travel somewhere outside London, I tend to be up much earlier.
How long is your commute and what do you do during it?
During my 20-minute commute, I go through my emails while listening to music. The music tends to relax me and put me in a positive state of mind.
What is your attitude to flexible working at your company?
I think it is great for society in general. We tend to work long hours and being able to work from home has a significant, positive impact on the work/life balance. However, I also think face-to-face contact with colleagues is extremely important. The solutions we provide to our customers are complex, and require us to work as a team, to know each other, to understand how each person can contribute to the end game etc. To achieve this, I think it is crucial to spend time with your colleagues in the work environment and socialise a bit so you create a bond.
What would your colleagues say is your worst habit?
I asked a colleague I have known forever and he said that I have a short attention span. My daughter says the same, so it must be true. That's why I don't like conference calls that go on too long!
If there was one thing you could change about your business, what would it be?
I would like our business in general to have more patience. We are so focused on short-term results that we don't always make the right decisions for long-term sustainable growth. A lot is driven by the fact that our company is quoted on the stock exchange. Even so, we ought to be better at this.
What do you do on a typical day?
I manage my business end to end and I need to ensure we are on track against our business plan objectives for the year. I speak almost every day to my finance director to keep me abreast of the general health of the business P&L and balance sheet. I spend quite a bit of time with sales, either meeting a customer or doing bid reviews. I get quite a few internal and external escalations, and I meet with partners and suppliers. In addition, internal stakeholder engagement is needed within the company. I am also quite keen on employee engagement, so I like to visit all my centres regularly and meet the teams.
How do you unwind at the end of the day?
I like to go for a run, or to the gym. But then when I have done my exercise, I tend to take a glass of red wine - apparently it is good for your health! I try to have two alcohol-free evenings a week, but I often fail to reach that target. I am still fairly busy in the evening. I may watch the news around 10pm. I am a terrible zapper - no one wants to watch TV with me. Unless I have a business event in the evening, I fall easily asleep by 11pm.
Where do you sit in the office?
Next to my PA. I can tell her everything there and then and don't waste time writing down stuff.
How many hours do you typically work in a day or week?
I like to believe I am efficient. I know it is a cliché, but women are really good at multi-tasking. However, I tend to be quite intense during the working hours.
Phone call, email, or face-to-face meeting?
All of them, but if I want to seal a deal, I like face to face.
How good are you at replying to emails?
I always reply to ALL my emails personally.
Do you ever really have a proper day or week off with no contact with the office?
I try not to look at my phone when I am on holidays abroad, but somehow I am uncomfortable about leaving my work phone at home.
What's the quotation that best sums up your approach to business?
I see business as a game with players, strategies to devise, plots to make and uncover, allies to find, foes to defeat, you win, lose - and it has to be fun.