Having achieved almost everything she planned to by the time she reached 40, Vanessa Vallely locked herself in a room and very quickly wrote this book. Her book was the fortieth thing she wanted to achieve by 40 and, simultaneously, it gave other women something that she hadn’t had for her whole brilliant career in the City of London: a practical roadmap to navigate the lumps and bumps that corporate workers potentially face in their careers (essentially women, but men can benefit from her tips too).
When asked who this book is for, Vanessa explains that it’s for the next generation of workers. However, experienced ones, including corporate executives, can also relate to it as professionals, females, wives, mothers, mentors and mentees, and can find something new, interesting and useful.
Vanessa’s findings and recommendations have credibility: as a daughter of a single mother with limited income, she started out as an office cleaner in the City when she was 15, and before she reached 40 she became a highly valued and head-hunted IT professional and manager. She reminisces:
I saw working in the City of London as a way to earn a decent living. I knew I didn’t have the academic track record like some of my peers, but I thought I would give it a try regardless. I’ve always lived by the motto that I don’t ever want to look back in my later years and say I wish I had.
Vanessa’s second motto is:
Nothing is achieved without risk.
She is also the founder of a network of women in the City (70 000 members) and mentors about 15 people, including one in Africa. Her mentees are mentors for others. And her book is part of this process too. From that point of view, OpenBooks.com, which allows unlimited copying and sharing of ebooks, is the ideal platform for her mission to help aspiring women in the male-dominated corporate world.
Vanessa has no doubt: it’s still a man’s world. “Will it change?” she asks, and answers, “I hope over time”. She recalls the fact that once women couldn’t vote!
In her foregoing professional life she wasn’t the only woman at her level, but she was the only one doing her job so there was no one around to share the challenges she faced. But she discovered networking. And one of her recommendations is: spend 10% of your working week meeting new people and learning new things. This will invariably expand your horizons and open doors of opportunities.
Most popular reviews:
“An absolute must read for any aspiring corporate professional” – Lara Morgan, CEO of Company Shortcuts
“Vanessa's personal story reads like a roller coaster ride with dynamic cast of characters, I couldn't turn the pages fast enough to find out what happened next! Her advice to others clearly comes from the heart as well as from considerable experience. I'm sure she will inspire the next generations coming through to think about their career and life plans in different ways” – Birgit Neu, MD, Neuchange
“There is so much that can be learnt from Vanessa's journey - she is an inspirational role model and her story shows that we can achieve anything if we are bold enough to dream it and brave enough to work hard earning it” – Ruby McGregor-Smith, CBE, CEO, MITIE Group PLC