Diana Verde Nieto is a successful entrepreneur, change-maker, Young Global Leader and author who founded Clownfish in 2002 – a pioneering global sustainability consultancy and most recently the 2011 luxury brand website Positive Luxury. Positive Luxury is the unique portal that bridges the gap between CSR and marketing by giving customers access to purchase brands that have social and environmental morals, this is reflected in simple terms at the point of sale. The ACN chatted to the inspirational Diana, who has worked on influential brands such as Coca-Cola and Unilever with their sustainability programs, to ask her about business and the importance of sustainability in our world.
1. What motivates you to succeed?
In all honesty I don’t think about success in that way. I’m lucky that I love my career, so work, my passions and interests are really all one. I believe that success is not an absolute, success is a succession of failures and attempts until you get it right – it’s a journey.
2. Where do you think the opportunities for women in business lie in the future?
I think that opportunity for us is for not to think as ourselves as different or handicapped for being women and to position ourselves as equals. What I mean by that is that we should embrace our femininity and respect others and ourselves in the way that we wish others to do.
3. What advice do you have for women hesitant about their own abilities?
Stand tall, seek criticism and believe in yourself.
4. How do you feel women can support other women in business?
I think that supporting others in business should not have to be something to do based on what sex you are.
5. What top tip would you give to a woman trying to drive their career forward?
Listen, seek criticism and when you get it don’t be emotional about it. But for me the elephant in the room is motherhood and that is a choice – some women choose to be a mother, some women choose not to and some women choose both. I think that the main thing is to be happy with the choice you make not to blame the system for it, be happy with the choice you make and make the most of it whatever it is.
6. In your field do you see a culture-change taking place in the boardroom?
Yes I think that there is change – but it’s slow – I think that when millennials are heading businesses there will not be an issue in terms of gender equality.
7. Is the glass ceiling getting easier or more difficult to break through? Any changes between now and ten years ago?
I’m a women entrepreneur – and I think that there is a lot of women that took their careers in their own hands choosing to create their own careers and for us there is no such a thing as a glass ceiling – in fact the opposite – women entrepreneurs have an advantage over men.
8. Who inspires you and why?
Karen Hanton, my Co-Founder and Investor is somebody that I have been friends with for many years and I admire profoundly, she is kind, smart and driven. Sir Alex Ferguson, again, I’ve been lucky to meet him a few times and what I love about him is that besides being one of the most successful managers of all times he is a family man as well as a true professional. I admire people that are successful but also care about their families, people and the planet.
9. Do you think women celebrate their own successes enough or is there a need to highlight more in what they are achieving?
I think that people need to be humble about their successes – otherwise you take on the risk of being arrogant. You know that you have achieved success when you take the time to help others to achieve success, but I don’t think you should shout about it.
10. In your eyes, do you feel there is an opportunity to do more off the back of the Davies Report to progress women’s careers?
I don’t know enough about it.
11. What are the top three initiatives you feel the Government could do for women who want to succeed in business?
I think that child care needs to be tax deductible! Crazy that it is not…
12. What are the top three ways you feel the Government could support and push corporates who want to attract and help more women prosper into their business?
Same as above and be flexible about job sharing and also teach entrepreneurship at schools for both men and women.
13. As a successful business woman in the UK, how do you think we can inspire and support more women in their careers?
14 . If we succeed and support women in business productively, how would you like to see the landscape change in 5 years? Please state any thoughts from the boardroom to investments in female businesses.
I hope that more women come up the career ladder and choose to stay in business or set up their own businesses.
15. What is the most inspiring quote you have heard?
I don’t know if it is inspiring but what keeps me grounded is Einstein quote – I refer to it almost on a daily basis – it is my reality check.
“Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results” – Albert Einstein
16. What are your sources of inspiration?
People, nature, sports – I guess I’m a positive person so I always see the glass half full.