Steely grit needed to break the glass ceiling

Steely grit needed to break the glass ceiling

Liz is an educated, attractive, lucid woman.

At 23, she decided to make herself the top woman in advertising in the Western world. She got to know the advertising leaders in London, France, Germany, Italy and New York.

Her method was simple - she asked questions about matters she needed to discover to make her understand how advertising worked.

Why one creative director thought an advertisement was a good ad while another did not was fast-track learning for Liz. She learnt more about the person expressing the view than the advertisement itself.

Knowledge of why people think the way they do was valuable.

Once in a position of hiring, she was well equipped to "read" job candidates.

Mary was well educated too. Smartly dressed and smiling, she was described as "warm" by people. She listened.

Youngsters who got into trouble went to her for advice.

Her kindly demeanour came from how she approached people. She was just as smart as Liz, sometimes even better dressed.

She was ambitious to learn about business, rise to the top, then start a company of her own.

She realised fashion is a hard world but she decided to aim for "the rag trade". She had the brains for it.

She made connections and got to know top-class couturiers by their first names.

Liz became head of a well-known advertising service company.

Living prudently, she managed to acquire shares in the business. When her older partner retired, she became the chief executive officer, remaining there until she, too, wanted to retire. She sold her business for a fortune.

Mary rose rapidly in the fashion world. She attended all the main fashion shows and knew everyone who was anyone. Friend and confidante to all, she was reliable, charming, kind.

As a personal assistant (PA) to a famous fashion designer, she was highly paid and the envy of many.

But for all her success, Mary remained a PA, never breaking through the glass ceiling.

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