An inspiring story

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(Picture (c) Jason Bye, reproduced from Supply Management magazine)

Nothing in particular to do with writing, but I found myself sufficiently impressed to relate this story I’ve just come across in Supply Management magazine. (Yes, I know – rock n roll or what? I don’t read it for fun, I hasten to add – most of the content isn’t quite this interesting – but blame the day job.)

Karen Hester joined Adnams – a Southwold, UK based brewery – as a part-time cleaner in 1988. In April this year she was appointed as the company’s Chief Operating Officer, the first female board member in the company’s history. A pretty remarkable rise by any standards, but the full story is well worth reading – see the full article here. There are several things worth celebrating here:

  • For someone to start at the very bottom of a company and rise to more or less the very top is still, sadly, the exception rather than the rule. But through sheer hard work and basically being herself, Karen succeeded in doing just that.
  • The above is, unfortunately, still doubly true for women. More and more are shattering that glass ceiling, but upper management remains mainly male-dominated throughout the business world. I work in publishing, an industry in which females are well represented at pretty much every level except the very top. Almost all the executive VPs in my company are men, and it has never had a female CEO.
  • And it’s probably triply true for an industry like brewing, which doesn’t exactly spring to mind as a trailblazer for gender equality.
  • So well done also to Adnams for recognising and nurturing the talent in its ranks. It makes me want to rush out and buy their products right now. Which would be no hardship, as their beer is phenomenally good.
  • Karen comes across as a pretty remarkable individual generally. In the British Army at age 16, starting her own business four years later … perhaps her subsequent success isn’t so much of a surprise after all.

So this isn’t really about writing … but you can take this as an inspiration for writing or anything else – that with talent, persistence and hard work, amazing things are possible. But that success doesn’t always come overnight – and probably rarely does, to be honest. It took her 27 years to get from the mop cupboard to the boardroom, but she got there in the end. So let’s raise a pint of Adnams to Karen Hester.  Cheers!

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