By Ruth Sunderland
Daily Mail, London
WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) Lady Barbara Judge is the first female chairman of the Institute of Directors in its 114-year history. She was also the First female director of British bank Samuel Montagu and the first female chairman of the UK Atomic Energy Authority. With those credentials, she has plenty of thoughts to share on how women can succeed in the workplace.
Daily Mail, London
FOR women who want to get ahead in business, take up a team sport.
That’s the advice from Lady Barbara Judge, who reckons men might have an edge in the boardroom because they are more likely to have played football or rugby.
Lady Barbara, as everyone calls her, is the first female chairman of the Institute of Directors in its 114-year history.
Why, though, would signing up for a netball or hockey squad make women more likely to succeed?
‘I have been thinking that one reason women are not as confident and not as collegiate as men is that men play team sports whereas women don’t so much,’ she says. ‘Men are not so afraid to fail, because if you lose a game or a match you all lose together as a team, and you all pick yourself up and play again.
‘Women tend to play more individual sports. They ride, they swim, they play tennis. They do not develop the team mentality that helps men to help each other.’
When we meet in the IoD’s imposing Georgian headquarters in central London, the walls are decked with huge paintings of men, mostly old-fashioned military types in red jackets.
‘I want to get paintings of women on the walls,’ Lady Barbara says. ‘Big magisterial pictures of women. To have all these officers on the walls, I don’t think it is very inspirational for women.’
With her queenly appearance, she would make a good subject for a painting herself. She is immaculately made up with blonde hair coiffed into a perfect chignon. Her dress edges beyond the merely formal and verges on the ceremonial. In the daytime, she always wears a light-coloured blouse with a high-necked ruffle collar under a black or blue skirt suit.
When I meet her a second time a few days later at a party sponsored by Barclays that she has thrown at the IoD for high-achieving women to network with one another, she is resplendent in a kingfisher blue embroidered Chinese-style jacket, worn over her day blouse and skirt.
‘One of my reasons for having the party was to bring women into the IoD who had never set foot in the building before. Many people thought it was a stuffy men’s club and I wanted to give them a chance to see the reality, which is that it can be a buzzy women’s club too – it is friendly and supportive for women as well as men.’
Only one in five of the IoD’s membership is female, but among younger entrepreneurs the ratio is nearer half and half. There will be more events for women, she says.
Though her image doesn’t yet grace the IoD, a portrait of her in profile by renowned photographer Ander McIntyre is in the National Portrait Gallery collection.
Does she think how women in business look is important?
‘OK, this is my personal opinion. I believe, if you are a professional person, you should look professional, because it gives other people confidence in your ability.
‘Men have a uniform, why shouldn’t women have a uniform?
‘I work in the morning, I don’t have time to think about picking my clothes and accessories each day. The way I do it is much easier. You have to check out the buttons on each suit to know I have more than one of them.’
Her style hasn’t changed, she says, in 20 years. Neither has her size, which is very slender, so she doesn’t throw out her suits and has lost track of how many she has.
Lady Barbara, now 70, was born in Saddle Rock, New York. Her mother, Marcia Singer, now 93, was her biggest inspiration.
Marcia, who had a career when most married women stayed at home, was a dean of a college and worked until 88. ‘The moment she stopped working she started to go downhill, and six months later she was in a wheelchair.
‘As soon as she retired and she didn’t have to get up in the morning to go to school, she stopped getting up and she fell to pieces.’
Lady Barbara visits her mother, who suffers from dementia, at her nursing home in New York every month. ‘My mother thought women should have a job, because they had a brain and they should use it, and they should make their own money because otherwise you’re not independent.
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After jobs in New York and Hong Kong, Lady Barbara moved to London in the mid-1990s where she rapidly acquired an impressive portfolio of jobs, including chairman of the Atomic Energy Authority and the Pension Protection Fund.
Her mother’s plight moved her to take a seat on the board of the charity Dementia UK.
As well as team sports, parents should encourage their daughters to do maths, she says.
‘Women who take maths in school earn one-third more throughout their whole life.’
It’s important also, she says, that husbands are supportive. ‘I don’t think any woman can be successful, if she is in a partnership or marriage, if that is not the case.’
Her son from an earlier marriage, Lloyd Thomas, is 33 and works in private equity.
Lady Barbara took just 12 days off when he was born and is on the record as saying long maternity leave is bad for women’s careers.
Did she really mean that? ‘I was just saying what I felt was right for me.’
She lives with her husband in central London and they also have a home in France. She and Lloyd sometimes work alongside each other in the same room, a habit the mother and son began when he was a schoolboy with his homework and she brought back papers from the boardroom.
Lady Barbara might not have much in common with an average mum struggling to balance a career and family, but no one can doubt her sincerity as a champion of working women – and, besides, she claims she’s a softie.
‘I get up in the morning and put my hair up and it is like armour. People have described me as an ice-maiden because of what I look like,’ she admits. ‘Of course, when you know me it’s not like that. I’m a marshmallow.’
Job: Chairman of the Institute of Directors
Family: Husband Sir Paul, son Lloyd and daughter-in-law Margaret.
Lives: Central London
Education: Law degree from New York University in 1969. ‘I was a bit of a leftie, demonstrating against the war in Vietnam and for the environment.’
Career: Appointed by President Jimmy Carter to the Securities and Exchange Commission, the US financial regulator. First female director of British bank Samuel Montagu in Hong Kong in 1983. First woman chairman of the UK Atomic Energy Authority and chairman of the Pension Protection Fund. Nuclear safety adviser to Tokyo Electric Power Company.
Day in the life: ‘I wake at 5am or 4.30am. I do half an hour on the treadmill every morning. It takes me an hour to get ready, then I talk to Asia. I read my papers for the day. I like that quiet time to get my work done. I leave the house at 7.30am, I have berries or smoked salmon for breakfast. I don’t eat lunch, but I like dinner, especially dessert.’
Hobbies: Writing restaurant reviews.
Best advice: ‘Nothing is impossible if you work hard enough for it.’