I am West Midlands born and bred and passionate about our region. I believe we are the heartland of UK makers and creators, with a goldmine of young talent.
I became the Liberal Democrat candidate to be the first Mayor of the West Midlands Combined Authority to use my 30 years’ working experience to fight for our region.
I’m not a career politician. I’m primarily a business woman and educator. I’ve been very lucky in my career to have great opportunity and be right at the heart of change. I want to make sure that our region and our young people also have opportunity and the kind of lift up that can change lives. I want to make the West Midlands one of the best places in the UK to live, work and thrive.
From EU policy to NY fashion
Fresh out of law studies at University College Dublin, I became a policy advisor for the CBI, researching the (very topical once again) issue of non-tariff trade barriers in Europe. I spent a year with them in Brussels, promoting the views of British business in the early days of the European Community.
I then enjoyed a year in New York working for one of US Vogue's most celebrated and creative editors, Grace Mirabella. I helped the first wave of Irish fashion designers to go global including Paul Costelloe and John Rocha.
Live Aid satellite links
Those were heady and exciting times. But nothing was so extraordinary as the two years I spent working for Visnews just as satellite broadcasting and simulcasting became reality.
Co-ordinating satellite links for the first Live Aid concert in 1985 and bringing the first news of the Ethiopian famine to the world were heart-pumping moments. These events changed the way in which we relate to overseas disasters forever.
I returned to Dublin just as the Big Bang era of deregulation swept through the finance and equity markets. I had realised how satellites would forever change the way global finance worked. So I got a job as an equity dealer for the entrepreneurial Irish billionaire, Dermot Desmond, at National City Brokers. My first day on the desk and we had 1987’s Black Monday, a global financial crash.
Day and night often blurred as adrenaline and endless mugs of coffee kept us going. But those two years provided me with tremendous insight into how technology would drive change.
CNN television wars
I moved from equities to media tycoon Ted Turner's CNN empire.
It was the summer of 1990 and the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait was underway. I worked with our heads of news in Europe, broadcast stations in North Africa, and CNN's 'embedded' reporters to deliver those brutal and often horrifying scenes to viewers. The era because known as the first 'television war' for global coverage.
Later, my time as a non-exec director at FTSE listed manufacturer AGA Rangemaster taught me how a traditional business should adapt to a fast-changing commercial climate. I became MD of Fired Earth and developed a new paint range with talented designer Kevin McCloud, now presenter of ‘Grand Designs’.
I ended up returning to the (relatively) calm world of the CBI, first in Manchester and then for 10 years as its Birmingham-based regional director for the West Midlands.
University and business partnerships
Since those heady days, I've focused on building partnerships between employers and students at Birmingham City University. I’ve made it my mission to raise the profile of the great brands and innovations of the West Midlands through Midlands Excellence.
I co-founded a Birmingham Made Me initiative which promoted links between great young designers and commercial business and resulted in 30 new start-ups.
As a Lib Dem councillor on Worcestershire County Council, I’ve gained first-hand insight into how local authorities have been coming to terms with the challenges of austerity,
Champion for change
My record is one of navigating and embracing change. Now, I’m standing as champion for change and the unifying voice for the West Midlands. We are on the cusp of a period of massive upheaval as the complex and confusing Brexit process gets underway. We face more cuts and uncertainty but also opportunity. I want to be the mayor that unites us and takes our region forward into a future made by us, for us.