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TGtB Meets... Lucy Graham - International Women's Day Special

In celebration of International Women's Day 2015 we've been chatting to Lucy Graham, Marketing Manager at Clarks Village just outside Glastonbury.

Tell us a little bit about yourself…

Before I entered the world of retail marketing, I spent over ten years working in the hospitality industry, marketing luxury hotels across the UK and Europe. Despite travelling with my jobs, the South West has always been home for me - I have lived in the centre of Bath and in Clifton in Bristol, and although I love city-life, I have recently moved into a 16th century longhouse in rural Somerset – and I’m now trying to get to grips with log burners and range ovens!

Which women inspire you and why?

I am a big fan of Paloma Faith - not only is she a hugely talented artist and performer, but she is extremely passionate about her beliefs and she uses her fame as a way to address many global issues. Unlike many ‘celebrities’, Paloma is not afraid to stand up for what she believes in – and despite her eccentric style, everything she does, she does with passion, and most importantly, honesty – an extremely admirable trait.  I’m off to a Paloma concert in Plymouth at the end of this month, and I also have tickets to see her at Westonbirt Arboretum in the summer.

I also hold huge respect for Karren Brady for succeeding in the hugely male-dominated world of football and gaining respect from a very tough crowd!

What do you think is the biggest issue facing women today?

Easy - the media. The media does a lot to perpetuate unhelpful stereotypes and unrealistic ideologies that can be extremely damaging to young girls and women.

What was the best piece of advice you received?

To ‘embrace being uncomfortable’. Being too comfortable with life can be a real de-motivator and can often result in complacency.  In business, I think it’s healthy to step outside your comfort zone and to embrace the uncomfortable feeling; you’ll undoubtedly learn something from the situation (even if it’s what you could do better next time) and that learning allows you to develop and grow as a person.

And also, ‘if you don't ask, the answer is always no'.

What significance do you think International Women’s Day holds?

International Women’s Day continues to raise awareness of the on-going need for equality. I don’t think it’s about feminism or sexism (words that don’t always carry particularly positive connotations in today’s world) – it just highlights the fact that gender is not relevant to what someone is capable of achieving.

Do you have family (and/or children)? How do you maintain a work/life balance?

Achieving a healthy work/life balance is all about understanding what really matters. Time is precious and something that shouldn’t be wasted, so it’s all about focusing on the important stuff – and most importantly, deciding what can wait until Monday morning.

If I am working from home, my nine-year-old, self-proclaimed ‘fashionista’ step-daughter is quite often peering over my shoulder, wanting to know more about the world of retail – so sometimes I do combine work-time with family-time… but the mobile phone never comes to the dining table!

Do you think there's equality between men and women in the workplace?

It’s getting better but there is still much room for improvement. Throughout my career, I have often felt that, as a woman, I have had to work harder to prove myself and gain respect from my male (and female) colleagues; and that’s how I feel about equality – women seem to have to work harder to become ‘equals’. This needs to change.

As a successful female, where do you see yourself in 10 years’ time?

For me, life is all about the here and I don’t like to make too many long term plans. I believe that if you work hard and you are passionate about what you do, new opportunities will be presented to you, and opportunities may arise that you hadn’t ever planned for.

Based on your own experiences, what advice would you give to fellow females looking to get into your profession?

Be a sponge! Everything you do is an experience so make the most of every opportunity, even if you do not think it is relevant for your future career. Learn as much as you can from the people around you, and then create your own path.

If you could have dinner with 5 inspirational women dead or alive, who would they be?

Paloma Faith (Singer), Kate Mosse (Author), Coco Chanel (Fashion Designer), Tracy Emin (Artist) and Julie Walters (Actress).

Lucy works as Marketing Manager for Clarks Village Designer Outlet just outside Glastonbury. Less than 20 minutes from the M5, you’ll find a shopping village with traditional paved walkways, beautiful landscaped gardens, a stylish restaurant terrace with indoor and outdoor dining, a choice of coffee shops and an unrivalled selection of discount designer and high street stores, all offering up to 60% off RRP.

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