Karren Brady: Let go of things that aren’t working

Karren Brady yesterday advised a room full of watch and jewellery retailers that, as business leaders, they need to make sure they are "cruel to be kind" and continue to follow practices that make their business good, while being prepared to put a stop to those that don’t.

Brady, who is best known for buying and turning around Birmingham Football Club when she was just 23 years old and, more recently, appearing on reality entertainment programme The Apprentice, was speaking at the UK Jewellery Conference held by the Company of Master Jewellers (CMJ) in Birmingham. Brady revisited her career, describing how she had to overcome hostilities from those not used to having a woman in the board room of a football club. She also talked about inheriting a football club that was run down and in administration and the decisive action that needed to be taken in order for it to succeed. When sharing the fruits of her experience with the CMJ members, Brady explained the importance of acknowledging what works for a business – particularly one with a long heritage – and what doesn’t.

She said: "Good businesses are ones that hold on to what makes their business good and who lets go of things that don’t." She added: "For me, it was just a case of being really cruel to be really kind to make the business work. The hardest thing to change is the company culture. Culture is changed by good leadership."

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She also had advice for business leaders about using their time well and stated: "It’s not about the hours you put in but what you put into those hours. The most valuable commodity we have is time, find your own way to manage yours."

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