Ten Questions

August 21, 2012 3:13 pm

Christine Brown-Quinn

Christine Brown-Quinn

Christine Brown-Quinn: "I am hopeful that younger women can accelerate progress"

Christine Brown-Quinn is an MBA graduate and the founder of The Female Capitalist, a consultancy practice. She is focused on empowering professional women to combine career and family successfully, as well as helping companies obtain better results through gender diversity.

Ms Brown-Quinn also co-founded the Women in Business Superseries, which helps aspiring professional women discover business strategies through conferences, dinners and webinars. She has a degree in foreign languages and an MBA in international business from George Washington University School of Business and has worked in international finance, including the role of a director at Swiss Bank (now UBS).

In her spare time, Ms Brown-Quinn enjoys playing tennis, cycling, jogging and cooking. She has published a book called Step Aside Super Woman, Career and Family is for Any Woman.

Ms Brown-Quinn will be available for a l ive web chat on Thursday, 23rd August 2012, between 14.00 and 15.00 BST. Post your questions now to ask@ft.com and they will be answered on the day.

1. Why did you choose to do an MBA?

Once I got into the business world, I realised that if I just stuck to being an expert in foreign languages and not business, I would always be on the periphery. I wanted to understand more – how exactly did accounting work? I was very curious. In the late 80s I worked in London as a conference producer and it was my job to interview executives in the City and find out what the latest trends were. After that two-year stint, I was absolutely sure I wanted to study international finance.

2. What is your biggest lesson learnt?

You have to go after things. You can’t wait for things to come to you no matter how brilliant you are at what you do; the world just doesn’t work that way. Part of that lesson is also getting over “no”. No is only what happens before yes, it’s not the final destination.

3. What academic achievement are you most proud of?

Receiving academic honours for my MBA studies. My husband and I achieved this as a team as I was attending university full-time while he was working full-time and our two older kids were then just one and three. Although I’ve always been organised, that time in my life was particularly intense. I used to try to be one week ahead of schedule of my deadlines as I was always afraid that one of the kids would get sick.

4. Who is your ideal professor?

Aung San Suu Kyi, the chairperson of the National League for Democracy in Burma. She would be an ideal professor to teach leadership as she’s one of the best leaders of our time. It’s never about her - it’s always about others and a greater cause and mission. She graciously deflects any focus on her own personal struggles to the struggles of others that are much more painful and heroic.

5. What advice would you give to women in business education?

Think about your next career move before you graduate. Start building the plan, making connections with businesses and alumni and leverage the resources of the career centre.

6. How do you deal with male-dominated environments?

I make sure that I stand my ground, but in my own individual way. It’s hard to compete physically (men take up more space at the meeting table, they have louder voices, etc.) I use my intellect, humour and straight-forward approach to make sure that my voice gets heard.

7. What is the last book you read?

Open by Andre Agassi. It was a real insight into how a champion can be tormented by striving for perfection. Agassi says he was never really happy until he started thinking about others. My favourite quote is: “the only perfection is the perfection of giving to others”. I admire Agassi for going back to his roots in Las Vegas Nevada and giving back to the community, especially the youth. I also admire him for choosing a strong woman for a wife (Steffi Graf) – it says a lot about his own self-confidence and strength.

8. What is your favourite business book?

The Competitive Advantage of Nations by Michael Porter. He does a fantastic job bringing to life the concepts of why certain economies are more competitive in certain industries than others, closely linking in the culture. For example, Japanese consumers are notoriously demanding and, as a result, the quality of consumer goods in Japan is world-class.

9. How do you deal with pressure?

Running is my number one cure - even just 20 minutes will completely change my frame of mind. My other method is not to procrastinate - if a certain deadline is stressing me out, I’ll outline the key actions and then DO some of those actions - that reduces the level of tension.

10. What are your future plans?

Help to improve the diversity numbers in the City by sharing the hard-earned lessons from my own career. By sharing the shortcuts, I am hopeful that younger women can accelerate progress and break through any perceived barriers.

Compiled by Charlotte Clarke

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