The one lesson I’ve learned from life: Karren Brady says your career isn’t everything 

The one lesson I’ve learned from life: Karren Brady says your career isn’t everything

  • Baroness (Karren) Brady of Knightsbridge, 52, is CEO of West Ham United FC 
  • Claims you say yes to things you would prefer to turn down building your career 
  • Mother-of-two, who lives in London, says lockdown taught her to be in moment

Baroness (Karren) Brady of Knightsbridge, 52, is CEO of West Ham United FC. She was made a CBE in 2013 for services to business, entrepreneurship and women in business, and in 2014, a life peer. She lives in London with her ex-footballer husband Paul Peschisolido. They have two children, Sophia, 25 and Paolo, 23. 

I went to a Catholic girls’ boarding school from a young age — you got up when told, went to bed when told. Slept in a room with six others, and had a bath and ate when told.

So the one ambition I had in life was to do what I wanted to do, when I wanted.

I’d had enough by age 18. And I knew independence only comes if you have your own money. So I left home to start my career [in advertising]. When I got my first rented apartment, if I wanted a bath at 3am, I could. It was liberating. When building your career, you say yes to many things you would prefer to turn down. Learning to say no is freeing.

Baroness (Karren) Brady of Knightsbridge, 52, (pictured) who lives in London, said lockdown has taught her to be in the moment 

Because I left home at 18, I never really felt I lived with my parents. However, when lockdown came, my husband and I and our children went to stay in Hertfordshire with my mum and dad, who was getting over prostate cancer.

I worked from my bedroom in the day. Then we cooked together, had quiz nights, spent evenings chatting and just being a family. It was lovely.

We now know life can be very short. Family and friends are everything to me. When you can’t see them, life is hard.

But lockdown has taught me to be in the moment and have a good think about what’s important.

The advice I would give my younger self is: a career lasts a lifetime. But you must stay the course and not burn out. I wasn’t surprised that a poll for the Women in Business & Tech Expo found up to 60 per cent of women say work/life balance is more important than salary.

With home schooling and no childcare, women were hit harder than men in lockdown. Flexible working is a priority.

I think the young Karren would tell me to stop being so serious and have more fun! I often say no to invitations. But, recently, I’ve started saying to my husband: ‘Shall we go to that party?’

Karren Brady’s Women in Business & Tech Expo is available to view online: 


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