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Talking Business: 'Talented women must believe they can achieve'

Fiona Lambert is vice president of George and George at Home, and was the only woman in the top 10 of Drapers’ 2014 Top 100 of the most influential people in fashion.

Fiona_Lambert

I joined Asda as brand director of George in 2007, having worked with the clothing line’s founder George Davies earlier in my career. I was brought back to breathe new life into the brand. With that move came risks, as both the business and my reputation depended on my success.

I have never had moments where I thought I couldn’t do what I’d set out to achieve. You need to have conviction in what you believe in; if you make a mistake, learn from it and move on. One of the main challenges for women in leadership is the self-doubt that can come with that sort of reality. Rather than focusing on the hurdles and challenges, women need to believe in themselves and be positive. A lot of success comes down to mindset.

Fashion is a notoriously competitive field, but sexism in the workplace has never come into it for me. I believe you have to know your customers and your business inside out and that is what makes you good at your job, not your gender. There
is a tendency for strong women to be perceived as ‘pushy’ in the workplace, but you have to fight for what you believe in. You can be fair and right, but you can’t always be everybody’s best friend. Women should not be apologetic for being strong or having an opinion - too often I hear women use the words ‘actually’ or ‘to be fair’ when these words are redundant and make you sound apologetic.

That said, it is vital to know who you need at each stage of your career. Throughout your career you need to have mentors and sponsors - a mentor will listen, coach and give advice; a sponsor will look out for your career. I encourage any young woman in business to find the right people.

I have had some great advice, sought out sponsors and had some great examples to follow of successful businesswomen. I consider it a privilege to be in a position where I can be a role model and take real pleasure in nurturing young female talent in the business, who will crash through the glass ceiling in the future.

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