Dame Rosemary Squire shares some of the rules she’s lived by, that have served her throughout her career.
As a woman at the top you can really make a difference so aim high, you’ll get much further than you think! As CEO and Executive Chair of the Board, I have been able to directly influence the policies that lead to a more diverse workforce. I’m proud to have opened doors for several women who moved up through the industry as a result of their skill and ambition – the West End and Broadway producer Sonia Friedman was one of them.
Earn your spurs
No-one gets a seat at the top table straight away – it’s likely that you will have to do the entry-level jobs on the way up. You’ll have to do the rotten hours. But when you have done it, and know what it is like, you can understand and respect the job when others do it. Tearing tickets at the door and showing people to their seat – I’ve done that and it helped me understand that everyone in the company has a vital role to play.
Find yourself a great mentor
A mentor can help you see the big picture but also provide practical advice when you are finding a particular issue challenging. I was lucky to have an inspirational mentor in the Neal Street property developer Christina Smith – she gave me confidence in myself when I was just starting out as an entrepreneur and approaching deal negotiations for the first time, saying, “if I can do it, so can you.”
People really matter – so be kind
It doesn’t have to be the grand gesture (although that’s great too!) but it can be as simple as making the introduction that finds someone their first job, telling a colleague you appreciate them, or just making someone a cup of tea. Be generous and it pays back with loyalty, friendship, good morale. I have tried to make this principle shape the working culture in my companies. I want work to be fulfilling, supportive – and fun.
When you’re going through hell – keep going
Winston Churchill’s words have really inspired me. There have been times in my life when I felt like giving up; my daughter was very ill, I faced discrimination and set-backs at work. It’s important to realise that everyone feels this sometimes, even when they are at the top of their
game. At these times, just putting one foot in front of another was the thing that saved me. My parents taught me to persist in the face of difficulties. Persisting leads to resilience – a very useful skill.
The vast majority of people are happiest playing it safe – but it’s through taking risks that you can really stand out. Opening our first theatre in the middle of a deep recession, acquiring a big group of theatres when we were a relatively small player – some of the biggest successes in my career were built on the back of opportunities that others might have been too timid to take. Do your homework, be the best-informed person in the room, face your fears – and jump. Next time it will be easier.
Nottingham Girls’ High School alumna, Dame Rosemary Squire co-founded the Ambassador Theatre Group, one of the world’s leading theatre companies, and now runs Trafalgar Entertainment Group, a live entertainment business that owns and runs its own venues, as well as creates, distributes and live-streams content.
In 2020, she was awarded the GDST Alumna of the Year Award for Exceptional Contribution. Dame Rosemary was awarded a DBE (Damehood) in the 2018 New Year’s Honours List for services to theatre and philanthropy.