To celebrate International Women’s Day, we sat down for a chat with our CEO Deborah Moore. Having worked at House of Fraser and Boots earlier in her fashion retail career, she joined us to discuss the challenges of running a fast-moving business and offer advice to other aspiring business women.
What is your biggest professional achievement and how did you achieve it?
Becoming the CEO of Dents - achieved by working hard, being open to change and being just a little bit pushy!
What was the biggest challenge of your career and how did you overcome it?
Covid was a real challenge. Having to send everyone home on the 23rd March 2020, not knowing when we would all be back in the business again. It was probably the lowest time of my working life.
Then, managing to keep the business going with the few staff who were coming into the office each day was a challenge. I went into the office every day as our web sales went crazy.
Once the government introduced the flexible furlough scheme, it became easier as you could bring people in as, and when, you needed them, knowing that if they weren’t working they would still have some income.
It was also difficult keeping up with all the health and safety advice as I felt a huge responsibility to keep the remaining staff as safe as possible.
What woman inspired you the most in your career and why?
Love her or hate her politics, Margaret Thatcher was a ground breaker. She looked at the long-term picture and pushed through policies that were initially unpopular, but turned Britain around.
She came to power during my late 20s and I met her a couple of times. She was formidable!
When she came to power, she was a woman with an all-male cabinet. To put this into context of the times, I was working for a large chain store group, where there were no women directors and very few female managers. On the director’s floor there were only male toilets. So, when a housewife from Grantham got the top job, it was inspirational.
How do you nurture and support the women in your business?
I endeavour to nurture the young women starting off in our business. It’s great when you see them flourish.
Although, I don’t believe in positive discrimination as people should succeed on their own merit. I was lucky that all my life I have been surrounded by strong, opinionated women, but also surrounded by men who treated women as equals.
What are the benefits to having women in leadership roles?
Professional women are used to juggling their work and home life balance better than men, and so tend to cut to the point quicker as they have less time.
What’s the best advice you would you give to the next generation of women leaders?
Be kind, work hard and surround yourself with the best team you can.