Despite only 20 per cent of the construction sector workforce being female, Valerie Owen defied convention by becoming the first female chair of the £100m turnover Swan Housing Group.
Discover what makes her tick in her First Women have the Last Word interview.
The woman I most admire is Michelle Obama because she is an excellent role model, both as a professional and a mother, and an inspirational speaker and leader.
To juggle my work-life balance I have to be very organised, and have always maintained hobbies and wider interests (like being a leader in Girlguiding). Hobbies serve as a ‘valve’ – diverting me from the pressure of work.
My biggest career break was joining Jones Lang LaSalle with a remit to help set up architectural businesses in London and Paris.
The biggest influence on my career was my father. He loved me and my sisters unreservedly; he was unstintingly proud of us, and yet constantly challenged us to be our best and make a difference in the world.
One thing that makes me mad in business today is a lack of ethics, values and positive behaviours.
Are boardroom quotas necessary or nuts? Neither – having women on boards is common sense. Why fetter your business by recruiting from half the talent pool, only?
My one tip on negotiating a pay rise is to win new, profitable business and maintain happy clients/customers, upfront.
In five years I see myself on the board of either a FTSE 250, or ideally a FTSE 100 company.
My number one piece of advice to young women starting their careers is: `Girls can do anything!’
My favourite wind down activity is spending time with my family, walking our crazy spaniel along the sea front.
The last book I read was Brick Lane by Monica Ali.
The one thing I can’t live without is my husband; I can’t imagine life without him.