Karren Brady interview

by Victoria Young on Thursday, 5 July 2012

Being happy about your shape comes from accepting what you have, rather than what you don't. When I was younger, I wanted to be tall and skinny. And because I wasn't, I was disappointed. The great thing about getting older is that I've come to accept my shape – and embrace it. The other great thing is I've stopped making the fatal mistake of following fashion – I now try to follow what suits me.

I've been to some glamorous parties where there are some very beautiful – and very thin – people. Then along come the canapés. But they don't touch a canapé or have a drink. And they have that pinched, pained expression. Obviously, I don't want to be huge, but the pain and dedication and the willpower to be thin would be a full-time job in itself.

Winning the BAFTA for Young Apprentice felt great. It's really nice to be part of the winning team. BAFTAs recognise all the people who work on a show behind the scenes. The best thing about working on the show is giving these bright, fiercely determined young people that showcase. Since last summer's riots, there has been a lot of negative attention on young people; Young Apprentice is the opposite of that.

My kids are my life. Sitting on the sidelines watching my son play rugby, helping them with their homework or getting them ready for their exams – I can't think of anything else I'd rather do.

I do think that someone needs to champion Women In Business issues.
Whether that means childcare issues, flexible hours, equal pay – whatever the issues are, someone needs to champion them. But no one has asked me, and I don't think you can just turn up at Number 10.

What's important to me is getting the balance right. There's no perfect formula. It's about understanding that at certain times in life, matters at home are more important than matters at work, and sometimes it's the other way round. You have to be flexible, and you have to accept that you can only do your best.

I love and embrace change.
If you fear change, it helps to really think through why you are changing something. It's like when people say, "I really hate my job." If someone feels that now – even during a recession - they should think about what they are going to do about it because it won't change itself.

Only you can change your own circumstances – other people can't do it for you. I have probably always lived my life like that, but it's probably not something I thought about until I had the aneurysm six years ago.

When I was diagnosed, what really got to me was the thought my children might have to grow up without me. All the things I'd sacrificed – not being there because I was at work – came back to haunt me. After the operation, I decided to do things differently. I only do the things I want to do now, because I know how fragile and short life is.

This is an edited version of Karren's interview. To read the full article, pick up the August issue of woman&home, out now.

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