Baa Bar CEO on succeeding in a man’s world

1. Which businesswoman do you most admire and why?

Mary Barra, CEO of General Motors ? the first woman ever to lead a major automobile business. In what many would consider to be a man?s industry, Barra has risen through the ranks of manufacturing and engineering. She is widely credited with the company?s turnaround, but what impresses me is the way she’s downplayed her new title and hasn’t lost sight of the company vision. I can relate to Barra: the bar industry is also heavily dominated by men and it just shows that women can do anything if they put their hearts and minds to it. 

2. How do you juggle the work/life balance? Any tips on staying sane?

The key is to make sure you have fantastic and passionate people working with you; the journey doesn?t feel as burdensome if you have the commitment of your people. If you’re lucky enough to have some spare time, spend it with people who mean the most to you ? your near and dear ones. Don’t spread yourself too thin.

3. Biggest career setback and what you learned from it?

I once made the wrong recruitment decision and it cost me a great deal ? and I’m not just talking about the replacement fees. Wrong recruits aren?t bad people, they can just be bad for your business. I now take my time to get to know people: I scratch the surface, dig for gold and find out if they share the same cultural values of the business. Don?t let a person’s initial fa?ade fool you and, most importantly, be true to your convictions.  

4. What makes you mad in business today?

Political agendas that make you lose sight of what?s good for business. Dishonesty and immoral conduct.

5. Boardroom quotas: necessary or nuts?

I don?t agree with them. Such decisions should be based on merit and the value the individual can add as a board member.

6. Your one tip on negotiating a pay rise?

Instead of focusing on past performance, focus on what you can potentially offer in the future. Employers love to hear what they?re going to get rather than listening to what they already know.

7. Where do you see yourself in five years?

As chairwoman of Baa Bar, I hope. Baa Bar will always be my baby and I care about where the business is heading in the future. I’d also like to be more involved in community projects which make the night-time economy a safer and comfortable environment for our customers.

8. Your advice to young women starting their careers?

Don?t limit yourself with goals. Set yourself dreams.

Elaine Clarke, chief executive of national bar chain Baa Bar, was shortlisted in last year’s First Women Awards. We’re on the hunt for this year’s inspirational, trailblazing women. To enter ? or nominate someone else ? email or apply here. Entry deadline: Friday April 4, 2014.


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