Deborah Leary OBE

Voted as one of Britain’s Top 100 Women Entrepreneurs by Real Business Magazine in 2009, Deborah Leary, is considered to be one of the most motivational and entrepreneurial women of the time.

Deborah is founder and CEO of award winning Forensic Pathways Ltd and also runs a successful consultancy business focussing on business strategy, implementing corporate social responsibility, developing international trade, optimising research & development grants and I.P. alongside advising on women entrepreneurship.

In recognition for her commitment to entrepreneurship Deborah was awarded an O.B.E. in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List 2008.

Deborah is also President of the British Association of Women Entrepreneurs (BAWE)
Voted as one of Britain’s Top 100 Women Entrepreneurs by Real Business Magazine in 2009, Deborah Leary, OBE is considered to be one of the most motivational and entrepreneurial women of the time.

Deborah is founder and CEO of award winning Forensic Pathways Ltd. While attending a conference in Toronto with her policeman husband, Deborah overheard a conversation between police officers concerning a piece of equipment known as a forensic Stepping Plate. The Canadians hadn’t heard of the product and Deborah spotted a gap. She found that the product used to prevent contamination of evidence at crime scenes was made from aluminium and therefore officers couldn’t see the crime scene once they were put on the ground. She designed a transparent plastic version and launched Forensic Pathways. Since the original idea the company has expanded supplying not only forensic equipment, but has diversified into technology offering unique data analysis solutions in the area of due diligence & risk, business and criminal intelligence

“What I love about this business is how you connect dots. We found £20m worth of insurance fraud for one client – but the money was being used to fund terrorism. So by solving a local problem, we had a global impact.”

Deborah also runs a successful consultancy business focussing on business strategy, implementing corporate social responsibility, developing international trade, optimising research & development grants and I.P. alongside advising on women entrepreneurship.

In recognition for her commitment to entrepreneurship Deborah was awarded an O.B.E. in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List 2008. Other awards have included the Joyce Award for Services to the British Association of Women Entrepreneurs, World Association of Women Entrepreneurs World Association of Women Entrepreneurs (FCEM) International Woman Entrepreneur of the Year 2007/8, European Woman of Achievement 2006 and British Female Inventor of the Year 2005.

Deborah is President of the British Association of Women Entrepreneurs (BAWE), an organisation targeted at sustainable and scaleable women owned businesses based in the UK. The network provides opportunity for B2B, lobbying, and mentoring. The Association is seen as the over arching network for women entrepreneurs. BAWE is linked to the FCEM – World Congress of Women Entrepreneurs.

I spoke to Deborah and asked first about her about her role as President of the British Association of Women Entrepreneurs.

“BAWE is about guiding women entrepreneurs. Not all women are the same and not all of their businesses are the same. What is needed is a road map to guide women entrepreneurs to the individuals and groups that can be of most help to them as they grow their business. We’re not interested in doing the same old thing. Networking can often keep women in their comfort zone. They take their eye off the ball; they become good at networking and forget to build their business. BAWE is not interested in hosting monthly get togethers, but focuses on organising meetings and events that can add real value.”

“There are mumpreneur groups that have achieved wide publicity but their focus isn’t necessarily on challenging women to build scaleable, global companies. Politicians like to be seen to be consulting these groups. It brings the politician good publicity, as it appears that they are consulting women, but it is a soft option for them. They can appear to be interested in business women without actually being challenged on their policies for real business growth”.

When asked about her advice to entrepreneurs Deborah gave the following advice;

* Set Goals.
If you don’t know where you are going you will neither know the direction to travel in or when you get there

* Understand what you want, your motivation and drivers.
This can be different for different people. Some are motivated by money, some by fame, some want to create a comfortable live for their families. You need to understand what it is that drives you so that you can keep the passion for business in the business

* Understand who you need to be to be successful and affirm it.
The person that you need to be in order to be successful probably isn’t the person you are at the start. You need to understand who you need to be and learn how to become that person.

* Learn to handle change – you will need to change as you grow and your business grows.
Change is inevitable. If you constantly fight change within yourself and within your business you will create barriers to your own success.

* Find a peer group to challenge you.
Some networks can be simple business exchanges or lunch dates. Find a group where you can network with your peers, and their peers.

* Find out what your clients want – and give it to them.
Sounds simple doesn’t it but many businesses make the mistake of offering things that they can do/make rather than tailoring what they do/make to meet the needs of the client.

* Aim to be remembered for the how you do business and not just for the business you do. Your reputation is everything. Protect it, build and and value it.
This is crucially important-that you do business with integrity. If you are using social media make sure you don’t confuse your personal life with your business brand. People buy from people so it may be appropriate for people to know the kind of person you are but posting your holiday snaps on a business social media page is hardly ever going to be a good idea!

* Don’t hide from the money.
Don’t hide from the money. The business will only survive if it makes money. Keeping an eye on the accounts is crucial. It may not be the most exciting part of the business and for most it is certainly the most daunting, but it is vitally important. I promise you it becomes more exciting the more successful you become! You need to understand what the numbers mean. Good financial assistance is essential, but you are the one with the vision. You must be in control.

* Think Big
Have a global product, a big vision, aim to be the best at what you do.

As well as her role with BAWE, Deborah is involved in a number of other organizations:

* Chair of the Midlands World Trade Forum, a West Midlands regional network supporting businesses involved in international trade.www.mwtf.org.uk

* Deputy Director of the United Nations UK Global Compact Network supporting multi-nationals and SMES in Corporate Social Responsibility, reporting directly to UN Headquarters in New York www.ungc-uk.net

* A Founder of Microsoft’s ‘Voices for Innovation’, a network focusing on innovation across Europe. www.voicesforinnovation.org

* Board Member of the Young Vic Theatre Company www.youngvic.org

* Fellow of the RSA

* Formally a Board Member to the Small Business Council which advised UK Government about the needs of small businesses.

A huge thank you to Deborah and we hope to hear a lot more from her here at the3rdi in 2011

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