Karren Brady: 'The first lady of football'

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Birmingham City managing director Karren Brady and chairman David Sullivan pose for a picture at a function, circa 1993.Image source, Getty Images
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Baroness Brady and David Sullivan in 1993

Sometimes known as "the first lady of football" Baroness Karren Brady has a distinguished career in the commercial side of the game.

She did well at school but decided not to go to university, instead joining advertising firm Saatchi & Saatchi at the age of 18.

From there she went to radio station LBC and landed a big advertising deal which was to transform her future.

She persuaded David Sullivan, the owner of the Daily Sport and Sunday Sport, to place £2m worth of advertising with the station.

Mr Sullivan was so impressed with Lady Brady that he hired her.

She encouraged Mr Sullivan to buy Birmingham City Football Club from administrators, which he did in 1993, along with brothers David and Ralph Gold.

At the age of 23 she was made managing director of the club.

In an interview with the Financial Times, Lady Brady recalls taking over as managing director at Birmingham. "David [Sullivan] did warn me that I would have to be twice as good as the men to be thought of as even half as good. I said 'well luckily that's not difficult'."

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David Gold and Baroness Brady in 2005

When she met the squad, one Birmingham player quipped about what he could see through her shirt. Unfazed, she told him that when she sold him to Crewe, he wouldn't be able to see from there. The player didn't last the season.

The club was sold in 2009 for £82m.

From there, her partnership with Mr Sullivan continued. When he took control of West Ham United with David Gold in 2010, Lady Brady was put in charge of the commercial side of the club, with the title of vice-chairman.

One of her biggest jobs at West Ham was to negotiate the club's move to the Olympic Stadium, where they started playing in the 2016-17 season.

The Apprentice

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Baroness Brady, Lord Sugar and Nick Hewer with a Bafta award for their work on The Apprentice

Despite decades of work in the football industry, Lady Brady might be better known to some for her appearances on the BBC TV show The Apprentice.

In the programme's sixth season, in 2009, she took over as Alan Sugar's assistant, having previously been one of the team interviewing contestants.

Lady Brady is also known for her work championing women in business.

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In December 2013, Karren Brady was awarded a CBE for services to women in business and entrepreneurship

In 2013, she wrote in the Guardian newspaper: "Women who have got to the top need actively to ensure there is a pipeline of younger women, whether by networking or mentoring, who in turn are encouraging those below them.

"Women in the boardroom must not forget how many challenges and difficulties we have overcome, and we should share our coping strategies."

In December 2013, she was awarded a CBE for services to women in business and entrepreneurship and in August 2014 she was appointed to the House of Lords, taking the title Baroness Karren Brady of Knightsbridge.

Fashion chief

Image source, Dave M. Benett/Getty
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Baroness Brady became chairman of Taveta, the holding company for Sir Philip Green's Arcadia Group, in 2017

One of her more recent high-profile appointments was in the fashion industry.

In 2017, she was made non-executive chairman of Taveta, the holding company for Sir Philip Green's Arcadia Group, which includes Topshop and other High Street chains.

She has now resigned from Sir Philip's retail empire, just weeks after vowing to stay in her post despite a harassment scandal.

It comes after allegations of sexual harassment and racial abuse of staff by Sir Philip were reported earlier this month, accusations he strongly denies.

Previously, Lady Brady had said she felt "a real sense of duty" to staff at the retail empire, which includes her own daughter, Sophia Peschisolido, who has been a social media content assistant at Topshop since 2016.