Karren Brady's career advice to mum-of-two who wants a high-achieving career

APPRENTICE star and vice-chairperson of West Ham United FC Karren Brady answers all your careers questions.

Today, she helps out a woman who compares herself to other mums who have high-powered jobs and wants the same.

Q) I have two young kids, and juggle looking after them with working three days a week in a shop selling beds. Although I’m exhausted, I generally enjoy my life.

However, when I do school drop-off, I see loads of mums who seem to have high-powered jobs and look completely together (unlike me!) and it’s making me question what I’m really achieving.

I didn’t go to uni and have always taken on whatever work I can find without being too choosy, but I’ve never progressed much beyond standard retail roles. Should I accept that I’ll never be anything like those mums, or do you have any suggestions of how I can one day be as high-achieving as them?

Sally, via email

A) First, stop putting yourself down by comparing yourself to others. I didn’t go to university and I’m not doing too badly! You need to ask yourself: “Am I happy and content?”

If yes, then great, stop worrying! If the answer is no, then you should address what about your work isn’t making you happy. We spend so much of our lives working, it’s important to do something you love. Maybe it’s applying for a promotion at the shop you work in and climbing the ladder. Or consider looking for other retail jobs within an area you’re interested in.

If you want to completely move away from retail, then start researching industries to narrow down what it is you would enjoy, and talk to friends and family to get their input. Identify any skills you need to learn and find courses that will increase your knowledge – often you can opt to study around your current job.

Most importantly, stay true to yourself and don’t worry about what other people are doing. Good luck.

  • Got a careers question for Karren? Email [email protected]
  • Be a boss

    Bossing It is Fabulous’ series about ordinary women who have launched incredible businesses. It aims to inspire other women and show that if these ladies can do it, so can you!

    Read more at Thesun.co.uk/topic/bossing-it.

    A Day In The Life…

    A day in the life of…Jo Tutchener-Sharp, 45, is the founder and CEO of fashion brand Scamp & Dude. She lives in Cookham, Berkshire, with her husband Rob, 43, an events agency owner, and their children Sonny, nine, and Jude, seven.

    I get up at…7am. After a crazy rush getting the kids ready, my husband walks them to school while I have a shower. I’ll grab a cup of tea and some toast, then head to my studio at home. My team of 15 is based all over England and have worked from home long before the pandemic. You don’t have to be in London to be good at your job!

    My typical day involves…Scamp & Dude has been going for five years, but we’re still quite small, so I’m very involved in every part of the business. A big chunk of my role – and one of my favourite jobs – is designing.

    I create what I want to wear and, luckily for me, loads of other people want to wear the same thing! I also run our social media accounts, which is full on. My kids attend after-school clubs and I always do the 5pm pick-up, then my attention is on them until bedtime. I sometimes pick up work again once they’re asleep.

    The best part of my job is…Creativity, interacting with our customers via social media, and charity work. We’ve donated over 3,500 Superhero Sleep Buddies – cuddly toys with a pouch for a photo of a loved one  – to little ones who are seriously ill or bereaved.

    Then for every Super Scarf sold we donate one to a woman with cancer or the mother of a child with cancer. When they put that scarf on, I hope they think: “Someone’s thinking of me.” I suffered a brain haemorrhage in 2015 and thought my life was about to end. I kept thinking: “I haven’t done enough good. I haven’t helped enough people.” Now I feel like I’ve done some good.

    And the worst? Dealing with the impact the pandemic is still having on business, such as delays with factories following a Covid outbreak. It’s not nice having to explain to customers why a delivery is late. 

    I wind down by…I love a bubble bath and face mask or watching Married At First Sight. My husband says: “It’s so embarrassing that you watch that!” but I need to switch my brain off. It’s good for me!

    •  Visit Scampanddude.com.

    Compiled by: Claire Frost & Gemma Calvert

    • Karren cannot answer emails personally. Content is intended as general guidance only and does not constitute legal advice.

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