She is Business – Interview with the Baroness of Mayfair
By Holly Brierley – When success is defined as “the accomplishment of an aim or a purpose”, who would be the first successful female that you would envisage? A lawyer? Global CEO? Military official? A celebrity? This editorial will examine how females of a particular status must face a variety of verbal attacks and physical risks on a daily basis. Utilising first-hand insights from seasoned private security officials, this editorial will highlight the ways in which women can identify these potential risks and mitigate personal threats.
In order to effectively identify, manage and mitigate the various threats that wealthy, influential women may face, listed below are the case studies of three females who have achieved significant career successes within their respective fields of industry:
August 29th, 2014 – Georgia Marshall, a respected lawyer and leading specialist in family and matrimonial law, was hospitalised and treated for injuries due to an unprovoked attack by a male litigant whilst leaving the law Chambers. Her client’s ex-husband attacked her, punching her in the face and chest. Although he was sentenced to three years behind bars, Marshall had to suffer a broken nose, extensive bruising on her face, neck and chest.  Marshall has practiced in the Supreme Court, the Court of Appeal and holds a Directorship with a law firm. 
May, 2015 – Michelle Mone OBE, the subject of our editorial, is an internationally commended businesswoman and public speaker who became the target of a vitriolic social media campaign due to her vote against Scotland becoming independent from the United Kingdom. Mone faced slurs and threats ranging from “cow” and “slut” to “we’ll come and get you” and “we will throw you across the border”.  Raised on a council estate in Scotland and struggling with early motherhood, Mone decided to change her life. Awarded an OBE in 2010, Mone now holds a peerage in the House of Lords for the City of Westminster. 
June 16th, 2016 – Jo Cox, Cambridge University and London School of Economics graduate, was a Member of Parliament for the Batley and Spen constituency, head of Oxfam International’s humanitarian campaigns, national chair of the Labour Women’s Network, senior advisor to the Freedom Fund and Labour party politician, but most importantly a daughter, wife and mother.  Jo Cox was fatally shot and stabbed in a targeted attack in Birstall, West Yorkshire. Jo’s attacker, 52-year-old Thomas Mair, showed no remorse, held a history of psychiatric problems and was affiliated with the US neo-Nazi group National Alliance. 
I had the incredible opportunity to interview Baroness Michelle Mone, learn about her greatest accomplishments and glean her exclusive insights on success. Baroness Mone has been no stranger to threats. However, rather than submit when confronted with negative circumstances, Mone used them as inspiration to remain positive.
What does being a leader mean to you?
“To me, being a leader is about having confidence in what you are doing, and that means knowing exactly why you are doing it.“
Who is an influential figure within your life and why?
“My Mum and Dad. They always taught me to believe in myself and my dreams. They are the reason I am where I am today and I thank them for that every time I see them.”
How dramatically has your life changed from being Michelle Allen to becoming Baroness Michelle Mone OBE, holding a peerage in the House of Lords?
“Growing up in the poverty stricken East End of Glasgow, I used to play Monopoly and imagine what it would be like to live in Mayfair. Although I have always believed in my dreams, I never thought I would end up Baroness of Mayfair! The House of Lords is a different World altogether, but I am in a good place and at a stage in my life now where I am focusing on giving back to society. Being in the House certainly helps with that aspect.”
Has your personal life ever been at risk due to your profile – if so, how did you manage and mitigate those risks?
“During the Scottish independence referendum I had threats made on my life, but I am a tough Glasgow girl so I didn’t really think about it. Fast forward a short time to now and there are Police escorts and private security with me at some private events. I think it is quite exciting really.”
How did you manage the criticism from other business leaders when Prime Minister David Cameron listed you as a Life Peer?
“I have been in business a long time and with that experience comes a thick skin. Business is competition and some people don’t like competitors. It really doesn’t phase me anymore — the fact I am a woman and have blonde hair seems to phase other people a lot more!”
Have you experienced denunciation from members of the public who may feel jealous or offended by your successes – if so, how did you manage and mitigate those risks?
“Almost never. People can be very forthcoming when it is over the internet or in writing, but usually very different in person… the worst I have experienced have been tongue-in-cheek comments and never anything rude or unpleasant. *Touches wood*”
What would you deem as your greatest success in your personal or commercial life?
“My greatest success in my personal life is undoubtedly my kids. My eldest runs a number of my businesses for me while I am travelling and the other two are turning into little adults. They all make me very proud. In my career, my greatest success is undoubtedly still to come. To date I would say pretty much everything since stepping back from Ultimo. I have started and am involved in a number of businesses which keep me feeling young and enthusiastic… if a little tired sometimes!”
Despite their different career paths all of these successful women share one common experience: they were targeted because of their achievements.
As a private bodyguard, I have first-hand experience of protecting females of such stature, having worked for female A-list celebrities, successful businesswomen, Middle Eastern dignitaries and billionaire heiresses. These wealthy, highly influential, females have all faced significant, legitimate threats.
The following factors can either decrease or heighten an individual’s personal threat level:
– An individual’s elevated profile
– Exposure to the public and/or media
– A controversial career path and/or controversial career decisions
– An individual’s association/ relation to a distinguished family or institution
– Whether their career path attracts fixated persons (stalkers)
– Obligation to uphold a reputation
– Family who could be compromised or leveraged
Fortunately, simple yet effectives measures can be implemented if physical security is not a viable option for the individual including;
– Alternating your daily routine to avoid forming predictable movements
– Maintaining a low-profile via social media or online
– Recruiting appropriate representatives to manage your online footprint
– Seeking professional advice on controversial matters
-Dynamically assessing situations and responding with urgency (listen to your inner alley cat)
-Operating a need-to-know policy with all information
-Remaining cautious when using public Wi-Fi zones, hotspots and when transmitting information electronically
– Never travelling alone and exiting scenarios whenever you feel uncomfortable
All our case studies demonstrate professional women simply wishing to live their personal and professional lives. Unfortunately, all successful women are exposed to an element of threat. But how far is too far? When do red flags start popping up? When does behaviour become unacceptable? Along with the basic suggestions above, my advice is to listen to your instincts. If a situation or person does not feel right then address it. Do not allow circumstances to gather momentum. By heeding these suggestions you can help mitigate risks and maintain a low personal threat level.
References and Credit